The Daily Aztec

Take Carly Rae seriously

by Ryo Miyauchi, Assistant Arts and Lifestyle Editor

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The few times I’ve played Carly Rae Jepsen’s music in the presence of other people, they seemed to mention one thing that’s starting to irk me.

“It’s cool that you like girly music,” one of them once told me. “Other people talk bad about it but I don’t see what’s wrong with it.”

To be clear, I don’t have a problem listening to girly music, whatever that may be, but it sounds condescending when people describe music as “girly.”

Girliness has its own understood sound and feel in music, and Jepsen’s songs fit some of its known qualities.

The production of her music sounds bright and bubbly.

Though she’s more bashful than other pop singers, she wears her heart boldly on her sleeve.

Big, electric feelings are the main currency for her music; it’s no coincidence that she titled her new album “Emotion.”

People don’t really use “girly” as a compliment, though.

People say music is girly in the same way people describe a baseball pitch as girly.

Listeners who dismiss girliness in music complain the beats sound too soft or cheesy.

They say the vocalist sings too weakly, or the topic at hand is too immature.

Music has to have a certain edge to be considered of value for many, and Jepsen’s music doesn’t exactly fit with what some of those people want.

Some want toughness, both in sound and voice, not something that sounds like sweet bubblegum or a voice of a wrecked heart — both qualities that Jepsen projects in her music.

For these same people, female musicians, including Jepsen, make worthwhile girly music by growing out of it.

Critics and fans alike point out artistic progress when a young female artist changes her voice from a naïve girl to a self-assured woman.

Jepsen has grown up as a singer and songwriter in “Emotion.” While she once held back shyly, she now expresses her lyrics in a fashion that is noticeably more straightforward and bold.

She couldn’t quite get her words across in “Call Me Maybe,” that last “maybe” acting as a cushion for her real feelings.

In “All That,” the song that she performed on “Saturday Night Live” this year, she looks at her crush directly in the eyes.

“Show me if you want me, if I’m all that,” she sings.

But I see people finding creative growth elsewhere in other areas of her music, and the responses aren’t so flattering.

For the production of her new album, Jespen adds deep synthesizer bass lines — a trendy sound used by pop artists from Kelly Clarkson to Demi Lovato.

Yet her singles have yielded similar responses as Taylor Swift did when the former country star went through a similar change with her extremely popular hit “Style”: She’s sexier and her music more edgy.

By this line of thought, her songs, like other female artists, become quality music as long as it successfully seduces the male gaze.

Progression doesn’t come from sophisticated style or more dynamic songwriting — it comes from how well the product pleases a standard set by men.

A part of me wonders if getting rid of the descriptor “girly” would change anything.

People don’t describe music as “manly” in the same way they don’t point out a band is an all-male band.

So why point out songs as girly?

But on a second thought, not recognizing girliness as a positive quality would be a disservice to female musicians, too.

Swift and Nicki Minaj, for instance, have both openly embraced girliness as their identities when they were defining themselves as world-famous pop stars.

Minaj wore flamboyant wardrobes, decorated in neon pinks and blues, and her music sounded equally colorful as they stood as examples for girls who aspire to be self-made women.

Swift sang about growing up as a young girl for young girls, her image storybook-themed as her breakthrough single, “Love Story.”

Since then, the two have proven girliness has a sense of cool and power.

Like the two musicians, girly music does not care if it’s cool or not.

It only asks to be taken seriously.

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