“The Loneliest Time” by Carly Rae Jepsen feat. Rufus Wainwright
When Carly Rae Jepsen first announced that her new album, out this week, would be called The loneliest moment, I took a breather. Wasn’t it a bit in the nose? Was it necessary to remember that everything breathes a little trash water? Which says more about me than it does about her. I’m a grumpy gremlin, but Jepsen is a precious pixie who made a name for himself with pop songs about infatuation, full-throated adoration, and just the alluring kind of disappointment. In fact, there’s nothing more CRJ than an album title so moving it could be the name of a book about a shelter kitten who was rejected by 500 potential adopters.
The title track is not my favorite song from the album. (It’s “Western Wind,” whose sweet opening beats bring me to tears every time.) It comes from the theater-kid side of its creative spectrum, with a guest appearance from beloved balladeer Rufus Wainwright and a nursery rhyme bridge: “We reached the moon / But lost in space, I think we got there too soon.
This bridge ends with an extremely dazzling flourish that you’re probably familiar with, even if you haven’t heard the song, because it took off as a TikTok sound. Jepsen delivers the verse – “I’m coming back for you, baby / I’m coming back for you!” – with wide-eyed optimism. It looks like the cutest performer in high school, warm in the gym spotlight in a sequined top hat and dance tights, smiling and breathing hard at the end of their big solo.
Thousands of users have linked him with videos lovingly using his enthusiasm. Jepsen posted a selection of picks on Instagram: One person says “I’m coming back for you” to their half-empty can of La Croix; a harassed mother guiltily walks away from a cute baby stuck in a high chair (“When you’ve got three babies but only two arms,” the text reads). A home cook grimaces at her box of green salad; a sneaky shopper hides a coveted item in Target so no one can get it before returning on payday; this person admits to cutting his nails only once every four months. Nobody is perfect!
That’s the magic of Carly Rae. His sweetness is contagious, his absolute loyalty. When she says she is come back, she thinks so with all her being. When we sing, we try to say it – we really try – but at the end of the day, we have to admit that we don’t always do what we say. We have the best intentions, but we are not as pure in heart as her. Either way, with his help, the rest of us can finally claim to be on his level (I come back for you!) for a while, at least. —Estelle Tang
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