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Photo by Scott Troyan

In February, at Swedish American Hall in San Francisco, I saw Carly Rae Jepsen record for the podcast Song Exploder. The podcast discussed her song "When I Needed You," and in the course of the recording, the host, Hrishikesh Hirway, played the song's initial demo, recorded in New York while Jepsen was performing as Cinderella on Broadway, a year before her next album E·MO·TION would take shape. The song as it appears on the record is a kind of fluorescent, machinistic kiss off, nimble and confident even as it describes something that's falling apart. The demo is a minor key dirge oriented around a delayed guitar melody; its elements seem to respond to the gravity of a breakup. She tracked the demo right after a relationship ended, when the feelings were still fresh. A year later in Los Angeles she and a few other songwriters would shift it into a major key, and a few months after that Ariel Rechtshaid would modify it further, until it sounded like a hundred unrelated parts working together in bright combinations.

When our publisher suggested we try to put together a Carly Rae Jepsen issue this is sort of what I envisioned it as: something deeply personal that would still have a collagistic and cinematic scope, that would convey enough distinct perspectives on one person, one aesthetic, one feeling, that it would feel like a bright collapse, like a Carly song. I think we came as close as possible. Elisabeth Waltz studies Carly Rae Jepsen's performances on Canadian Idol and aligns them to developments in her own life; Scott Interrante analyzes "Call Me Maybe" through the lens of music theory as a way of exploring its immediacy and charm; Zan McQuade observes the crowd at a typical Carly Rae Jepsen show and finds a hundred unrelated parts working together in bright combinations. This issue is also our most image-oriented yet; photographer Scott ...