The Sheeran Effect: Observing The Beginnings of Ed Sheeran's Influence on Pop
But here are two important things to keep in mind: despite its lack of multiple smashes, Kiss is a tremendous record, a triumphant collection of bubblegum music rightly heralded by pop addicts in the years following its release. And the follow-up to Kiss, which is slowly coming together, could be even better, based on many recent indicators.
Since the beginning of 2015, Jepsen has given us reasons to get legitimately excited about her second album for School Boy/Interscope Records. In January, Jepsen posted an Instagram photo of herself in the studio with Dev Hynes, the mastermind of Blood Orange, and songwriter/producer Ariel Rechtshaid. For those unfamiliar, these two guys have made some of the more compelling pop music of the 2010s so far. Rechtshaid was instrumental in shaping the sound of albums like Vampire Weekend's Modern Vampires of the City, Haim's Days Are Gone, Sky Ferreira's Night Time, My Time and Charli XCX's True Romance, among many other projects; meanwhile, Hynes worked closely with Solange on her True EP and produced Mutya Keisha Siobhan's underrated single "Flatline," along with his critically lauded Blood Orange album, 2013's Cupid Deluxe. Together, Rechtshaid and Hynes produced Ferreira's captivating indie-pop single "Everything is Embarrassing"; imagining this pair creating something on par with that song for Jepsen is worth getting animated about.
Then, Jepsen shared a photo alongside Bleachers head/Fun. guitarist Jack Antonoff, who co-wrote Sara Bareilles' "Brave" and three songs on Taylor Swift's 1989 album; Jepsen professed that she had a "[g]reat couple days in the studio" with the in-demand pop writer. A few weeks later, Jepsen snapped an Instagram photo of herself with Vampire Weekend's Rostam Batmanglij, who contributed to Charli XCX's Sucker album and produced his band's beloved first two full-lengths. "New music soooon!" read the Rostam/Carly caption. Okay, so combined with the Hynes/Rechtshaid news, we can conclude that Jepsen is going the indie-pop route! Maybe the Kiss follow-up will be Pitchfork-approved instead of a commercial comeback. Best New Jepsen!
But hold up: is that Jepsen dancing next to Justin Bieber and Tom Hanks, during a music video shoot for her forthcoming single, "I Really Like You"? Yes. Yes it is.
Okay, so now Jepsen's comeback includes a must-see music video with Tom Freakin' Hanks and the Biebs as her co-stars. "I Really Like You" is coming out in March, and early word on the single is very strong. Scooter Braun, Bieber's manager and Founder of SB Projects, had this to say about the song during a recent chat with Billboard: "I told her that she couldn't come out with anything unless it was on the level of 'Call Me Maybe.' And, now we have a new one that is on that level." It's expected for someone in Braun's position to say something that praiseworthy of Jepsen's new material, but the direct comparison to "Call Me Maybe" remains pretty encouraging.
Still not pumped for the Jepsen Train to roll into the station? Maybe yesterday's news, that Jepsen has spent studio time with Tegan and Sara, will get you there. Jepsen has worked with her fellow Canadians before (Sara Quin co-wrote the Kiss bonus track "Sweetie"), and that was before the indie-rock duo segued into technicolor pop with their 2013 album, Heartthrob. If Tegan and Sara can help Jepsen re-create the warm hooks of a song like "Closer," then this project becomes even more enticing.
Jepsen's next album does not have an announced release date (most likely because it is not finished), and the list of collaborators is not concrete (Jepsen has also mentioned producers like Benny Blanco and Josh Ramsay being involved in the project). Yet the hints she has dropped represent promising signs for those of us who have heard what Jepsen can accomplish on a proper pop album and want her to have another shot at the spotlight. The success of "Call Me Maybe" may be darn near impossible to replicate, but Jepsen's mainstream moment will likely extend past one calendar year.