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Carly Rae Jepsen is (kind of) back. Sadly the Canadian pop icon still hasn’t released a follow-up album to 2015’s acclaimed E•MO•TION, but she does feature on a brand new track by BC Unidos, a music duo founded by Swedish producers Markus Krunegård and Patrik Berger. The track, called “Trouble in the Streets,” is a fast-paced, guitar-heavy tune that screams indie pop and Jepsen, of course, elevates it with her signature breathy, soprano pipes.
Since E•MO•TION, Jepsen has crafted an image that masterfully toes the line between upbeat bubble-gum pop princess and introspective indie queen, refusing to fully surrender herself to either “side” of the industry. But apart from a single here and a featured credit there, she hasn’t given us many clues as to what direction she’ll go in next—and when she does, the signals are often mixed.
Last year, she hinted that the album could have more of a disco vibe. In August, she announced that she’d be touring with fellow pop icon Katy Perry in 2018, making us think that whatever she’s cooking up next will be another electro-pop masterpiece.
Now “Trouble in the Streets” has us speculating that Jepsen could return to her stripped-down, pre-“Call Me Maybe” roots, especially since she and Berger have been working closely on her upcoming album since February. FYI, Berger helped produced some of the biggest pop hits of the 2010s, including Robyn’s “Dancing on My Own,” Icona Pop’s “I Love It,” and Charli XCX’s “Boom Clap.” So let’s break “Trouble in the Streets” down and see if the track can tell us anything about Jepsen’s next work of art.
According to a tweet, Jepsen posted late last week, she actually co-wrote “Trouble in the Streets” with Berger and Krunegård. “Trouble in the Streets,” like many Carly Rae Jepsen songs, is about love. But “When it’s gonna kill me, there’s no better way to go” sounds considerably darker than “I feel like I could fly with the boy on the moon” or “I wanna play where you play with the angels.” Jepsen often sings about loving without inhibition and unashamedly pursuing passionate relationships. In “Trouble in the Streets,” however, Jepsen sounds decidedly more hesitant about being with the person she loves. Could this signal a departure from the upbeat, optimistic lyrics that have defined Jepsen’s music up to this point?
“Trouble in the Streets” is super fast (not unlike the aforementioned “I Love It”) and forces Jepsen to push her vocal abilities to the limit. Jepsen proved that she’s not half-bad at singing quickly (i.e. basically rapping) in her “It Takes Two” collab with Lil Yachty, so we’re hoping this means she’ll experiment more with rhythm and speed on her next album.
If you’re looking solely at instrumentation, “Trouble in the Streets” is a lot more Metric than it is Ariana Grande. Synths and drums are usually the driving forces of Jepsen’s music. In “Trouble in the Streets,” however, the guitars take front and centre, giving the song a vibe that’s slightly more old-fashioned than what we’re used to hearing from her.
From “Trouble in the Streets” to “I Really Like You” to “Cut to the Feeling,” Jepsen’s signature pipes are unmistakable and unforgettable. And Berger has a knack for writing songs that are perfectly suited to a particular artist’s voice (listen to Lana Del Rey’s “Off to the Races” to see what we mean), so we’re confident that anything Jepsen creates with Berger will end up being 100 per cent uniquely her.