Carly Rae Jepsen – “Boy Problems” (Singles Going Steady)

"Boy Problems" isn't reinventing the pop song, but it's pop music done well.

Emmanuel Elone: Ever since “Call Me Maybe”, Carly Rae Jepsen has been fighting to be more than a one hit wonder, and “Boy Problems” is certainly helping her in the fight. In fact, I would say that this song is one of the best pop songs that I’ve heard in the last few months. The synthetic groove is clearly ’80s inspired, but Jepsen’s light-hearted yet powerful vocals make this song much more than an ode to the decade that inspired it. The lyrics are decent as well, and the hook is sure to grab the ear of many a listener on the radio. “Boy Problems” isn’t reinventing the pop song, but it’s pop music done well, putting Carly Rae Jepsen leagues ahead of her contemporaries in that regard. [7/10]

Kevin Korber: Like most of Emotion, “Boy Problems” hits so many pop sweet spots. It carries elements of funk, synthpop, and disco, and Carly Rae holds it all together with a deliciously ambiguous narrative. It’s the sort of guilty pleasure that makes you wonder why you should feel guilty at all. [8/10]

John Bergstrom: Let’s play Name Those ’80s Shout-Outs. I’m going with Madonna’s first album (“Borderline”, maybe) with some post-“Celebration” Kool & the Gang for good measure. Not a bad combo, and superproducer Greg Kurstin (Lily Allen, Sia, most everyone else) makes it work. The problem is “Boy Problems” really highlights the limitations of Jepsen’s voice, which is just too girlish and too flat. Also, the chorus is not particularly memorable. Expect the vapid, retro video to get about 25 million plays, and don’t expect this one on the radio. [6/10]

Pryor Stroud: The cliché about Carly Rae Jepsen is that she’s the conduit for sugary, unalloyed pop confections that are easy-on-the-ears but also unequivocally the products of flagrant commercialism. While “Boy Problems” doesn’t do much to dispel this cliché, it underscores why Jepsen doesn’t need to reinvent the wheel to triumph; it’s a hyper-polished teen-pop track with immaculate production and head-rush melodics that wouldn’t seem out of place in Madonna’s mid-’80s career apogee. During the chorus, Jepsen beams through an untiring hook that reminds you what choruses, in their essential form, should do: pull you through the verses, one after the other, eagerly anticipating the next fulmination of sheer pop ecstasy. [8/10]

John Tryneski: I’ve come to the conclusion that if you consider yourself even something of a fan of pop music then on some level you’re bound to enjoy Carly Rae Jepsen. “Boy Problems” couldn’t be more straightforward love letter to genre at its most sugary and straightforward. Everything from the cheesy synths and drum machines to the soft-focus glitz in video gives proceedings the vibe of a lost ’80s radio hit. Lyrically it serves its purpose by tackling a subject as simple in a way to be as disposable or profound as the listener’s personal emotional state dictates. The song does too much right to justify any response other than giving in and enjoying it. Also, as a general note, you can’t argue with Jepsen’s Pat Benetar-style mullet. [7/10]

Chad Miller: When I first heard this song I instantly hated it, but after many repeated replays of Emotion I grew to love it. The bass and the drums do a great job of keeping the track’s energy up, and the chorus is extremely conducive to singing along. The whole thing is entirely infectious. Lyrically, everything is pretty upfront, but Jepsen is great with this, hitting these somewhat simple feelings with enormous strength, though there is a bit of ambiguity in the bridge which I love. [9/10]

Chris Ingalls: It’s a dancey pop song. Don’t look for anything deep here. The thing is, it’s a really good pop song. A nice throwback to the late ’70s/early ’80s with those compressed drums, shiny disco keyboards and scratchy rhythm guitars. Like a funky, long-lost Madonna B-side circa “Lucky Star”, it’ll get stuck in your head for the rest of the day, but won’t leave much of a hangover. Fun and disposable. [7/10]

SCORE: 7.43