Charles Hartley, a free-lance writer based in New Jersey, has written more than a thousand published sports articles. He earned Master’s degrees in Business Administration and Journalism. In addition, he was awarded his Bachelor’s degree from Wake Forest University where he majored in English and Communications.
It began with Justin Bieber — as most important international events do.
He heard a song he hadn’t heard before. He thought it was a huge hit. He Tweeted about how hot the song was an how he was certain it would be huge. With his trained musical ear, having pumped out a few pop songs himself, people gave credence to his Tweet in a world where so many of them are untrue or half true or just don’t really matter. “The Biebs” posted a Tweet that was important and, arguably, the most memorable of all time.
The world reacted as they always do to what The Biebs says and does. They listened to the song. He nailed it. It had that “it” sound. When you hear it for the first time, you know it’s going to the top of the charts. We all have this visceral, intuitive sense. The song changed the trajectory of the music industry.
It was that Tweet that catapulted Carley Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me, Maybe” to the top of the music world. In Southeast Asia, The Nordics, every country east of the Mediterranean Sea, and across the United States this tune became THE SONG – including you and me – among anyone who knows anything about great music, pop hits, and The American Top 40.
Anyone who tries to argue, or did with you back then, that this is not one of the greatest all-time pop songs is, or was, lying and trying to be contrarian and uber-cool. Single them out for disciplinary action today.
The timing of this musical sensation happened to be just months before the U.S. Olympic Team was about to leave for the 2012 London Olympics. The song got so big, and stirred peoples’ romantic emotions so much, and evoked such catchy-ness and good-feeling frivolity, that the team decided to produce a video about it as one way to promote the team and show them having fun.
The video was a smorgasbord of sensational swimmers getting in touch with their groove things. On the plane flying the team to London, Missy Franklin danced down the aisle. Ryan Lochte stood still by a pool giving a kiss gesture to the camera. Rebecca Soni and Ricky Berens were about to smooch when, just before their lips touched, Dana Vollmer broke between them, seemingly out of nowhere, and cut short the act. This was building to be a moment of pure human attraction, but Vollmer turned it sideways.
Along with the rest of mankind, the team embraced the song. Everybody was all in. One reason this song struck such a chord with humans was that for so many years there hadn’t been a fabulous pop song come along, in fact, not since “Brandy” by Looking Glass in 1971, “Shannon” by Henry Gross in 1976 and “Superfreak” by Rick James in 1981.
It took 31 lean years after “Superfreak” for another international pop song to overtake the music world. “Call Me, Maybe” tells that timeless story of a girl discovering she’s attracted to a boy and wants to meet him. The twist is that she’s forward about it and does something “crazy” by asking him to call her. “This is crazy,” Jepsen sings.
It was crazy. And still is.
Olympic swimmers have said they also like other musicians. Lil Wayne, the hip hop and rapper, was one of the musicians Michael Phelps said he listened to before one of his races that won him eight Gold Medals in the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.
Hip hoppers and rappers often have a disdain for pop. But even Phelps, because he was being honest with himself that it’s a great tune, got caught up in the “Call Me, Maybe” international fever. In the video he wore sunglasses. Before the team could produce the video he had to sign off because he’s the greatest swimmer who has ever lived and has brought unmatched popularity to the sport across Earth. In a recent Facebook Live, the newly-crowned captain said he is working on a sequel video with the team.