Yet unlike other artists who won’t ever completely step out of one song’s shadow, like Radiohead (“Creep”) or Beck (“Loser”), Jepsen does not have a tortured relationship with her hit. In fact, it’s still a staple in her live performances, and she’s just as bubbly and earnest performing it as she was in its campy music video. To her loyal and passionate fans -- the “Jepfriends” she has cultivated over the years since her breakthrough by writing similarly impeccable songs -- “Call Me Maybe” is the sum of Jepsen’s talents wrapped up in a neat, three-and-a-half-minute tune so immediately recognizable that even nonfans know it from its opening string-plucks. While those outside of Jepfriend-dom might have been surprised by the sophistication of her third album, 2015’s E-mo-tion, her fans knew better. We had already glimpsed the pop savant Jepsen was on “Call Me Maybe.” (Not coincidentally, the biggest hit off E-mo-tion was “I Really Like You,” a joyous banger in the “Maybe” mold.)
If “Call Me Maybe” is a supposed one-hit-wonder’s one hit, it is arguably the most fiercely beloved random smash on this entire list. Jepfriends don’t advertise their special relationship to Jepsen’s discography by rejecting the song everyone else knows or trying to justify how deep her talents run beyond it. It’s the foundation of her career and catalog, and as such, we don’t just continue to embrace it -- we embrace it as a key part of what makes Jepsen the pop star we love.
I tested that idea recently when I tweeted a question to my fellow Jepfriends: Does “Call Me Maybe” hold up? Over half a decade since this earworm entered the airwaves, the responses were overwhelmingly affirmative. “Still one of the most intoxicating songs of all time ... Still somehow sounds fresh,” wrote one user. “It’s beyond love. It’s sacred canon,” responded another. “It’s amazing, and on its own, it still slaps,” another observed, though he, like some other respondents, did note that it can feel “out of place” with respect to the rest of Jepsen’s output. When I interviewed Jepsen in 2015, she seemed to share that sentiment. “ ‘Call Me Maybe’ was such a gift, but I don’t need that to happen again in my life,” she said, her big brown eyes hidden behind pink sunglasses. To her fans, too, it’s still a gift -- and what she has done since continues to prove its promise.
This article originally appeared in the Aug 4 issue of Billboard.