The Peabody Rooftop Party with Carly Rae Jepsen, the 17th Floor
From 6 p.m. Thursday at The Peabody, 149 Union. Special admission at the door: $15 (admission for most parties is $10); VIP passes $125, includes admission to all 23 parties, valet parking, discounts at hotel shops and restaurants, and access to a VIP lounge with food tastings and drink specials. For more information, call 901-529-4000, or visit peabodymemphis.com.
April 18: DJ Mark Anderson’s MATV and the Kaleidophonix with special guest Hot Chelle Rae*
April 25: Dr. Zarr’s Amazing Funk Monster
May 2: G3: The Garry Goin Group
May 9: Kevin & Bethany Paige
May 16: Party Planet
May 23: Gary Escoe’s Atomic Dance Machine
May 30: Kid Ego
June 6: Seeing Red
June 13: Almost Famous
June 20: The Millionaires
June 27: 5th Kind
*Special event pricing, $15 (includes one drink).
Singer Carly Rae Jepsen, who helps kick off the new season of The Peabody Rooftop Party series on Thursday, was already a successful artist in her home country of Canada when “Call Me Maybe,” the lead single off her first international release, Curiosity, hit the U.S. airwaves last winter.
The song, which was featured again that fall on Jepsen’s sophomore full-length, Kiss, became a global phenomenon. It sold 9.1 million copies worldwide, going five-times platinum in the United States. It hit No. 1 in 37 countries, including the U.S., where it held the top spot for nine weeks. (It still sits at No. 48 on the Billboard Hot 100 more than year after its U.S. release.)
And during the summer of 2012, it was on everyone’s lips, including Cookie Monster, fun., James Franco, the Miami Dolphins cheerleaders, and former Secretary of State Colin Powell, all of whom have either covered or parodied the track.
There was no maybe about it. With one song, Jepsen, 27, who garnered two Grammy nominations and the Billboard Rising Star award thanks to the tune, had become an international superstar.
“It was extremely exciting and dreamlike,” Jepsen says by e-mail, recalling the ubiquitous furor that surrounded her and the song, which she co-wrote with Josh Ramsay and Tavish Crowe. “I traveled everywhere and grew in more ways than I could have imagined. As an artist and a businesswoman. I learned so much about what I can handle and what I can’t. At the end of the day, I’m happiest writing with no makeup on — in my hotel room. So the other stuff is kinda like bonus.”
If Jepsen seems to be taking her sudden fame in stride, it’s because she’s been preparing for it her entire life.
“When I was 7, I declared to my family that I was going to be a very famous singer one day,” says Jepsen, who was serenaded to sleep by her father singing James Taylor songs and was taught the lyrics of fellow Canadian tunesmith Leonard Cohen by her mother. “I think when you’re little, you have that naive confidence that you can fly if you want to. Luckily they stood by me and encouraged those dreams to grow bigger rather than fade away. I feel very lucky to have the family I do.”
Jepsen started her music career in school theater, and got her first guitar at age 17. Even then, she imagined she would follow her parents into education, but a teacher encouraged her to try out for the television music competition “Canadian Idol.” She placed third on the show’s fifth season in 2007.
The next year, Jepsen put out her independently released debut album, Tug of War. The disc produced two gold singles and earned the artist two Juno Award nominations (the Canadian equivalent of the Grammys) for best new artist and songwriter of the year.
The success got Jepsen signed to 604 Records, the label of Chad Kroeger, lead singer of the Canadian rock band Nickelback. In September 2011, the label released “Call Me Maybe” as a single in Canada.
It might have stayed there if Canadian-born teen pop star Justin Bieber and his then-girlfriend Selena Gomez hadn’t traveled back up north that winter. Bieber, who got an early boost in his career from R&B sensation Usher, heard the song on the radio and quickly reached out to the artist behind it.
“My sister called me shrieking one day. ‘Justin Bieber tweeted your song!,’ and I didn’t actually believe her. But then I looked it up and it was real,” Jepsen says. “I got the call soon after from (Bieber’s manager) Scooter Braun and his team. They offered me my first worldwide record deal, and I felt too shocked to believe it was real. I didn’t tell anyone for a long time. When it was announced on TV, everyone in my circle was freaking out.”
As the buzz from “Call Me Maybe” slowly fades, Jepsen now finds herself in the position of having to prove it was no fluke. She has already followed up with a handful of charting singles, including the Bieber collaboration “Beautiful” and “Good Time,” a song with electronica artist Owl City that hit the Top 10.
Her current single off Kiss is “Tonight I’m Getting Over You.” Co-written with Lukas Hilbert, Clarence Coffee Jr., Shiloh, Katerina Loules and Jepsen’s producer and hero, pop producer Max Martin, the track returns the singer to her obsession with romance.
“This song is all about shaking off a bad habit,” she says. “Sometimes, it’s easier said than done, especially if your heart’s in the mix.”
Not content to bask in her current achievements, Jepsen is already looking past Kiss to her next songs.
“I am constantly writing, but I don’t know that I have THE songs for the next record yet,” she says. “I have a few ideas I’m playing with, but sometimes the songs in between the albums are just as important. I think it’s gonna be folkier and dancier if you can imagine that. A combo of the two worlds I love best.”