Track of the Day: 'Boy Problems'

Editor’s Note: This article previously appeared in a different format as part of The Atlantic’s Notes section, retired in 2021.

Even relatively unhip New York Times columnists agree that the new Carly Rae Jepsen album is “the best thing ever.” Right now, my favorite track is “Boy Problems,” above, but honestly next week (or tomorrow) I may feel completely differently.

A list of thoughts, non-exclusive, about this track—a sugar-laced, late-summer masterpiece:

1. That glitch drum fill from 0:06 to 0:08! It’s barely two seconds long and there are at least seven distinct sounds in there. The Twitter user @kerryrm helpfully slowed it down for us.

2. This song is dense with storytelling. By the 12th second, we know its plot, conflict, and three major characters. We’ve even heard from two of those characters in their own voices. And then the name of the song hits at just 0:15!

3. The plot continues to develop between the pre-chorus (“Boy problems / Who’s got em / I got em too”) and the chorus (“I think I broke up with my boyfriend / and I don’t really care / I’ve got worse problems”). And the chorus reveals too that this is a song titled “Boy Problems” that is not really about boy problems at all.

4. Over at Jezebel, Jia Tolentino surveys Jepsen’s problems and decides that this track is in fact “a beautiful gay song of discovery.” Possibly so—queerness, as ever, stays to the margins and evades full detection. But I think it’s very hard to hear this song’s three or four call-and-response moments (“na-nana-nana”) and conclude it wasn’t written as some kind of anthem.

5. That slap bass! That slap bass. That is all.