"Weapons-grade teen pop" - Rolling Stone
You know that scene in High Fidelity? The one in which record store clerk (and record snob) Jack Black tears a strip off a luckless customer for having the temerity to ask for a copy of Stevie Wonder's I Just Called To Say I Love You? ("It's sentimental tacky crap. Do we look like the kind of store that sells I Just Called to Say I Love You? Go to the Mall.")
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The poor lug leaves without the record saying: "OK buddy I didn't know it was pick on the middle aged square guy day."
I think it might be that day again and today I'm the middle-aged square guy.
Oh I could pretend that in 2012 I was all about Frank Ocean. But, really, it was my daughter who turned me on to him. I could make a case for Usher's Climax being a glorious late flourish of the electronic R&B that was the best thing about the early years of this century (as noted in Not Fade Away 2001, 2003 and 2005), but to be honest I didn't notice it until long after. Maybe I could even make a case for Bat For Lashes' Laura but I fear I might have raved about a few too many mournful ballads in this slot.
And the fact is, if I'm honest, the song I was humming to myself most in 2012 was Carly Rae Jepson's Call Me Maybe. My daughters were mortified by this. It was so middle-aged square guy of me. And yet two years on I've still not grown tired of it. I don't own it - do people still bother with "owning" tracks? - but when it appears on the radio I'm still humming along. I can't be alone. It sold a ridiculous amount of copies, and prompted a ridiculous number of viral copies of Rae Jepson's own promo video. And it's better than I Just Called To Say I Love You.
It's easy to sneer at tween pop. I've done it myself about One Direction, JLS, Little Mix etc many, many times. But I find it hard to sneer at this song. From the plucked strings it opens with to Dinky toy rave rush of the chorus, it's, well, just sweet.
And sweetly innocent too. Call Me Maybe is a song that suggests that teenage crushes aren't quite the pornotopia hip-hop and R&B videos might suggest. It's about looking sideways at cute guys and maybe swapping phone numbers.
Maybe it's the father in me that wants to think this is a more realistic vision of teenage life than, I don't know, Robin Thicke's Blurred Lines. Am I being naive? I'd like to think not. Sometimes life isn't like a Hollyoaks plot.
Pop music was invented for and by teenagers. We forget that sometimes. Call Me Maybe is a reminder.
Chained, The xx
Pyramids, Frank Ocean
Ill Manors, Plan B
Farewell (In Three Parts), Husky
Laura, Bat For Lashes
Serpents, Sharon Van Etten
Disparate Youth, Santigold
Under The Westway, Blur
Do You, Miguel
Inspector Norse, Todd Terje
Lay Your Cards Out, Polica
Everything Is Embarrassing, Sky Ferreira
73 - 78 (Beck Remix), Philip Glass
NME Single of the year: Best of Friends, Palma Violets
Festive 50 Winner: Husbands, Savages
And the Best-selling Single of 2012: Somebody That I Used To Know, Goyte, featuring Kimbra