Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe” recently chalked up another long-overdue week at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100, but that hardly captures the extent of the song’s ubiquity. In January, Justin Bieber first tweeted about the song. Since then, aside from the 140 million-plus views racked up by the original video, there’s also the inevitable Barack Obama mash-up, the Arrested Development montage, the business card, the “supercut” of Katy Perry and everybody else’s viral “Call Me Maybe” covers, the Donald Trump cameo, the meme images, the Colin Powell rendition, the “Chocolate Rain” guy’s version, and, bringing everything full circle, the impromptu Bieber cover. The last one’s a little pitchy, but people seem to love that guy.
Critics have been going through their own cycle with the song. In April, the Village Voice’s Maura Johnston described people reacting to it “as if it were a particularly attractive crush object.” By early May, NPR’s Ann Powers was cataloguing how this girlish song has spurred macho-looking men into posting their own YouTube versions. Before the month was over, the Globe and Mail’s Sean Michaels was asking in a headline, “Is this the best pop song ever?” By June, bringing everything full circle, the Village Voice’s Zach Kelly was worrying that the Internet was killing “Call Me Maybe.” (Which brings to mind John Mayer’s long-deleted blog post presciently forecasting the instant cultural obsolescence of Borat: “It will be due to a society set up to adopt, consume and then divorce a trend in dizzying time.”)
Not to worry. Plenty of people are still hearing “Call Me Maybe” for the first time. And, for all the cacophony on the Web involving this song, the culture really does need its next “schwing” and “NOT,” its next “I wish I could quit you” and “Imma let you finish.” Most importantly, though, a number of the alternate versions of Jepsen’s hit are startlingly good. Here are the nine you should hear right now:
1. Dan Deacon – “Call Me Maybe Acappela 147 Times Exponentially Layered”
A perverse cousin of that 800% slowed-down Bieber remix making the rounds a couple of years ago, the America electro-acoustic mad scientist folds “Call Me Maybe” into itself until it reaches some sort of psychogenic fugue state. It’s from a Bandcamp compilation of 42 “Call Me Maybe” covers.
2. Physical Therapy – “Mad Drums vs. Call Me Maybe”
New York producer Daniel Fisher, whose Avalanches-dreamy EP Record Sales you can and should stream here, contributes a percussive remix that sounds like what its title says.
3. How to Dress Well – “Call Me Maybe (HDTW LOL EMPHASIS MIX HAHAHA)”
Scroll to the 35-minute point of this spectral-R&B producer’s recent Live Yourself mix and (right after the above remix) you’ll hear the atmospheric echoes and scary-movie pitch-bending you’d expect from the man behind 2010’s influential Love Remains. Follow-up Total Loss arrives on September 18 via Acéphale.
4. Kitty Pryde – “Gimme Scabies”
Our own Brandon Soderberg has lumped in this young, white, female rapper with the execrable Karmin, but here’s two-and-a-half minutes where we can respectfully disagree. Karmin smack of effort and drain all traces of controversy from the songs they cover; Kitty is casual (and hip) to a fault. The 26-year-old Jepsen gets away with effervescent teen-pop, and an ambiguously teenage rapper turns it into her own vice-ridden, oddly endearing cloud-rap hit.
5. Carly Rae Jepsen / Annie Lennox – “Call Me on Broken Glass” (mash-up by Vampire Weekend’s Rostam)
OK, so this one’s a bit on the nose: “Call Me Maybe” co-writer Josh Ramsay has said he played Jepsen the Lennox hit “as an example of how a string riff could be cool in a dance tune. Rostam’s pitch-shifting effects help make it more than just obvious reference-spotting. “Strictly for the lulz” indeed.
7. Carly Rae Jepsen – “Call Me Maybe (Silent Drape Runners Mix)” This New York-based duo is refreshingly unabashed about just about everything — seapunk, their love of Twin Peaks, and this dark, scrambled reworking of Jepsen’s track, inhabited by a time-stretched snippet from Robyn’s highly relevant synth-pop heartbreaker “Call Your Girlfriend,” is similarly uninhibited…and rewarding.
8. MC Chris – “Tasty Face”
Not all humorous reworkings of “Call Me Maybe” are dead after one listen. This nerdcore rapper’s bath salts-inspired cannibal parody is worth forwarding to your friends.
9. Carly Rae Jepsen – “Call Me Maybe (Skrillex Remix)”
None of the many and sundry dubstep remixes floating around out there really grabbed us, but then we came across this inevitable pairing, which, as you’ll see, invokes the ultimate YouTube meme. Sorry :-/