Best and Worst Versions of “Call Me Maybe”

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When the first day of summer hit last week, I still hadn’t heard Carly Rae Jespen’s song “Call Me Maybe.” Ever. Not even a single measure, or note, or anything. This is no small feat. I’ve kept an ear to almost every corner of the music universe for the better portion of my listening life. I love pop music in both theory and practice. I have no aversion to a good “summer jam” (I was particularly infected by “Teenage Dream” a few summers back), and Canadian singers are fine by me. (Did my sister and I share a Celine Dion cassette tape growing up? Why yes, we did.)

That said, I was just a bit overwhelmed with the impact of the track on the masses. It seems like 2012 has seen a new take on “Call Me Maybe” with each passing week, and the plague-carrying ear worm of a chorus wriggles its way to my Twitter feed almost daily. Stories on tech blogs, sports sites, and even respectable news outlets have been riffing on its lyrics for months, as if it were the only well to draw a joke from. It’s inescapable, and I wanted nothing to do with it, and I made sure everyone knew it, too.

Until now. I decided to end my churlish boycott of this thing everyone seems to love so dearly and throw myself to the wolves. I decided to listen to “Call Me Maybe” (as well as several alternate versions). Below are my findings.

“Call Me Maybe” (121.6 million views)

Might as well get this out of the way on the first go: I don’t hate it. I don’t really like it, either. I get it—it’s got a fun Katy Perry meets Robyn vibe, but it’s definitely not Katy Perry or Robyn. And the verses are really pretty weak. And the video is really kind of strange—I’m more than fine with the “twist” ending, but I don’t really feel like there was any sort of setup whatsoever for such a “twist” to occur. One glance from the guitarist to the other guy would’ve made me feel a bit better, I think. Didn’t he and the other dude, according to the chorus, just meet? In any case, the chorus has not left my head for the majority of the past hour, and I’m not sure that I have a problem with it.

“Call Me Maybe” (with lyrics!) (53.6 million views)

The Kony 2012 popup really took me out of the mood here, to be honest. I do appreciate the attention to grammar, however, and the debate regarding the foresight/first sight lyric is interesting. (Which one is it CRJ?)

“Call Me Maybe” (Harvard Baseball Team Cover) (13.2 million views)

Here’s the first reported shark-jump for “Call Me Maybe.” The premise starts strong: A few guys from a baseball team are about to sing a popular track that kind of seems out of their comfort zone(!) while one buddy is driving and one buddy is filming and one buddy’s asleep. Sadly, like the Sandusky “conspiracy” idea, this one comes crashing down on its own weight. You can almost hear the moment after the song came on for the first time in the van when one kid thought “someone should be filming this so it can go viral!” I’m not impressed by the choreography, either, and the ceiling-punch chorus bit comes off as a farce. Over/under is five years before “I was distracted because my teammates were performing a choreographed ‘Call Me Maybe’ viral video in the motor vehicle while I was operating said motor vehicle” is used as a defense against vehicular homicide! (Oh, and finally: Could the team be any less prepared for when Tyga’s “Make It Nasty” comes up next on the playlist?)

“Call Me Maybe” (ft. Jimmy Fallon and The Legendary Roots Crew) (4 million views)

This one I enjoyed, as it really capitalizes on one of the only positives I see from this track: the “fun/laughing/smiling is contagious” idea. When groups hear this song, they can’t help but feed off each other and feel happy. Sometimes they’re even compelled to perform the track themselves! On the real, though, Black Thought looks like he’s having a ball and the classroom instruments sound pretty amazing.

“Call Me Maybe” (ft. Justin Bieber, Selena, Ashley Tisdale & MORE!) (43.2 million views)

I found this clip to be the most egregious of the set. Whereas there’s at least some homage to the original source material in most of these videos, Bieb-street and his merry band make no effort to connect their antics with the happenings of Jespen’s track. Standout missteps in the shooting script: the inclusion of a juggling shot, the 1990-something yin-yang shirt, the dude holding up the Hunger Games, the fact that Justin Bieber is significantly cooler than the majority of his crew, the fact that Justin Bieber might be wearing a slice-of-pizza charm on his ice, JB’s display of non-muscle (hey, he’s the one who flexed), JB’s use of the word “swag” at the end (which stopped being cool roughly between the first and second time Tyler, the Creator said it), and the multiple instances of banana phones (which even Raffi himself shook up eventually with the “Danana Phone”). Also, where in Carly Rae’s name are the parents during all of this?

“Call Me Maybe” (Barack Obama, er, cover?) (14.5 million views)

I’m going to go out on a limb here and suggest that Barack Obama did not approve this message.

“Call Me Maybe” (The Hottest Abercrombie & Fitch Guys cover) (4.1 million views)

I had a good guffaw this round at the idea of a tryout-type situation during which all of the world’s hot A&F guys duked it out and left it all on the line and only the hottest remained, and the entire building that hosted the trial was burning from the sheer heat of the tryout (but everyone got out safely, so don’t worry). As for the video itself, I have a hard time imagining the audience as I have a hard time thinking of any group of people who wouldn’t consider everything going on here as an assault to the senses. I mean, who’s OK with a shirtless dude popping out of some flowers to yell, “where you think you’re going, baby?” No thanks, Hottest Abercrombie & Fitch Guy. Finally, the triumphant “YEAH” at 3:10, ostensibly from one of the meat head-ier HA&FGs, is the funniest thing I’ve ever seen in my life. That is, until I saw …

“Call Me Maybe” (Corgi Rae Pet Parody) (.7 million views)
Guys, you can thank me later for this one.