Today’s Song: Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Party for One” Is an Ode to Solitude

Carly Rae Jepsen © Natalie O’Moore
Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Party for One” celebrates what happens behind closed doors when there’s no one with you, from crying in bed to candy underwear.

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Carly Rae Jepsen, neé Carly Slay or Carly Gay depending on who you ask, has spent most of her time in the limelight as a syrupy sweet pop artist. Her lead singles have been ubiquitous hits like “Call Me Maybe,” “Run Away With Me,” and “I Really Like You,” all yearning pop-bangers about searching endlessly for companionship. Artists like Taylor Swift and Jepsen herself canonized the mold of the girlpop singer as eternally pining, forever youthful.

Party for One” flips that script. “Party for One” celebrates what happens behind closed doors when there’s no one with you, from crying in bed to candy underwear. The video even features an actor eating spaghetti in the bathtub, an image so visceral and so gratuitous that suddenly my shower beers have become graceful as Audrey Hepburn from Breakfast at Tiffany’s. But I get it.

Stream: “Party for One” – Carly Rae Jepsen


Party for One - Carly Rae Jepsen

Party for One – Carly Rae Jepsen

Jepsen’s voice is strong as ever, and her mastery of the pop form shines through in the single. “Party For One” is a banger, of course, but its most interesting moments aren’t the places where the beat drops, or at least not those places by themselves. Jepsen’s ability to build tension through irregular pre-chorus moments and modal bridges is what glues her pop ethos together and elevates her sonically from any other pop musician.

At any rate, “Party For One” isn’t just about being a gross hobgoblin after a breakup, and I’d be bereft if I minimized what is perhaps Carly Rae’s most interesting single to such a platitude. Sure, there’s Absolut vodka, spaghetti bathing, and the heavy implication of masturbation, but ultimately the tune is an ode to solitude. Not the empowered solitude, the Platonic ideal of thousands of self-help books, but messy, intensely human solitude. Jepsen sings,

Tried to let it go and say I’m over you
I’m not over you
But I’m trying
You don’t want my love
If you don’t care about me
I’ll just dance for myself
Back on my beat
Party for one
If you don’t care about me
Making love to myself
Back on my beat
Ahh, ahh, ahh
Carly Rae Jepsen © Natalie O’Moore

Carly Rae Jepsen © Natalie O’Moore

The song is wonderful in its uncompromising compassion for humanity. Jepsen extends her invitation to the Party for One broadly; gay, lesbian, wrinkled with age, bursting with joy and heavy with mourning. Mark Kanemura, the LGBT man that ​went viral​ with his rainbow wig dance to Cut To The Feeling, makes a huge appearance as one of the lonely partygoers. “Party For One” presents a Panglossian vision of these lonely humans and allows them to cut loose.

Three years after E•​​MO•​​TION, Carly Rae Jepsen is ready to move on, not from a guy but from Carly Rae Jepsen as a forever pining 30-something with schoolgirl sparkles in her eyes. Her evolution (e•​​vo•​​lution, maybe) in “Party For One” makes such a deliberate statement you could mistake it for a rebuke of her previous music. Much more likely, however, is Jepsen coming into her own after gaining a substantial indie cult following after the release of ​E•​MO•​TION.

Carly Rae Jepsen "Party for One" still

Carly Rae Jepsen “Party for One” still

The only flaw I can find is probably a personal gripe. An obvious slip of the Pride-branded Absolut bottle – a cloying assimilation of the revolution for LGBT rights packaged ex post facto into the consumerist nexus. Still, Jepsen’s constant overtures to the LGBT community are uplifting and cute. I absolutely loved the video and the song. Check it out below!

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:: stream/purchase Party for One here ::

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Party for One - Carly Rae Jepsen

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📸 © Natalie O’Moore
directed by Bardia Zeinali

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Danny Vagnoni is a writer specializing in music & culture writing, podcasting, and editorial work. Danny is currently working with Grammy winner Denny Somach (Ah Via Musicom, Eric Johnson) on an upcoming classic rock podcast and multimedia endeavour. He is based in Philadelphia, PA, and loves the city's resurgent culture. [Aside from all that, Danny has approximately five million instruments, two of which he can play competently, brews beer for kicks, co-hosts a podcast, and has a ceaseless drive to create.]