For pop culture fans, we all know where we were when we first heard the boppy, synthesized opening notes of Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe.” The song by the Canadian songstress has a pretty simple premise: Girl sees Boy. Girl thinks Boy is über cute but is too nervous to act on it. Girl gives Boy her number and asks him to call her. But what those 3 minutes and 20 seconds gave us was something much greater than a fun summer fling of a song: “Call Me Maybe” became a cultural moment — and also served as our 2010s’ blueprint for bang inspo.
For many of us in our teens or early 20s, “Call Me Maybe” anchored as the soundtrack to some of the core and truly fun memories of our most formative years. While the song was initially released in September 2011 on Canadian airwaves, it wasn’t until 2012 that it really blew up. And by blew up, we mean stratospherically blew up, becoming not only the song of the summer, but pretty much of the entire year. It was played at weddings and university parties, and spurred numerous viral lip sync videos. There’s a reason why Billboard named it one of the “Songs That Defined A Decade.”
Regardless of whether you got sick of it being overplayed on the radio or fully stan Carly Rae Jepsen as an underrated and much overlooked pop figure, chances are that you have some feeling or memory associated with it and its instantly recognizable chorus. Maybe it reminds you of your high school crush, bonfires at the beach with your BFFS, or the ill-advised trip you took to Supercuts to try and emulate Jepsen’s heavy front bangs.
For me, I think of Selena Gomez and Justin Bieber’s now infamous lip sync video to the hit song, made at the peak of their tween coupledom and a signifier to me — an obsessive fan — that true love was real (or at least my teeny bopper, kind of naïve idea of true love). It was a glimpse behind the curtain of celebrity puppy love and into the inner workings of one of the most famous couples of the time. (Also, the moment when they almost kiss?! Erotic).
Which is part of what makes “CMM” so sweet to this day, a testament to its staying power. It’s not just the song’s serotonin-boosting hook, but everything it came to represent: a simpler time when we had permission to be carefree. And who doesn’t want to reminisce about that? To celebrate the 10th anniversary of the lasting reign of “CMM,” Refinery29 staffers share their fondest (and one not so fond) memories associated with the song, along with some truly incredible throwback 2012 photos. Here's why, a decade later, we’re still cueing it up on our playlists.
"During the 2012 competition season, I probably heard this song 300 times in various ice rinks while competing as a synchronized skater. It was a true crowd pleaser for the littlest skaters, my age group (teenagers), and especially the skating parents, who crowded into rinks for hours at a time and needed a good reason to stretch their legs and dance a little during Zamboni breaks. I associate this song with thick makeup, my hair gelled back like a helmet, and dancing around with teammates and proud parents, feeling like ice skating was the most fun and most important thing in the world. Catchy isn't a strong enough word for whatever's in that song! 'Call Me Maybe' got its hooks in all of us in 2012, and after hearing it everywhere for a full calendar year, its grasp did loosen — but it will never fully release us." — Abbey Maxbauer, Senior Social Editor
“'CMM' reminds me of the color pink! The year was 2012, I was 15 years old, in my prime Tumblr phase and obsessed with Doctor Who. I was one of the guys, and my "not like other girls" phase was mighty strong. So, 'Call Me Maybe' was a song that I begrudgingly knew all the words to. It was that guilty pleasure song that was forever stuck in my head. I watched the music video too many times, and can still recite all of the lyrics. 2012-Me had no idea just how obsessed I would be with Carly Rae Jepsen just three years later, with the release of her greatest contribution to pop music the album EMOTION. It's all about the yearning and crushing from afar that all teens feel! Plus, it was catchy." — Mercedes Viera, Associate Deals Writer
"'Call Me Maybe' immediately makes me think about my first year of college! I was a camp counselor that summer and I learned to play it on guitar and sang an acoustic version at campfires. It was a huge hit, especially with the 8-year-olds. It came out not long after “Friday” by Rebecca Black, so at first everyone thought it was a joke or a kid song, but then you actually listen to the lyrics and the melody and the production and realize it’s an incredible song. Plus it has the most scream-able chorus." — Hannah Rimm, Editor
"I remember being at church camp, and there was a talent show. This cute boy, Spencer had learned the song on guitar and sang it in front of everyone. I honestly don't remember if he did a good job, but everyone enjoyed it — probably because he was hot. He had that 'I'm a guy who wears a headband' thing going for him, and the Catholic girlies ate it up. It was super catchy and addictive. However, I do remember it being kind of annoying at one point. I think it has really easy-to-remember lyrics, and the song expresses a feeling many people can relate to. We've all had a crush!" — Chichi Offor, Associate Writer
"The BANGS! We all had them at one point, let's be honest. In the summer of 2012, I was a college grad with no job and zero idea about my future. I would hear 'CMM' on the radio though, and for those few minutes, I would forget about my anxiety and just sing along to its 100% carefree vibes. Listening back now, I'm reminded that it's okay to not know what lies ahead. Just enjoy the ride — windows down and music blasting. 'CMM' was such a bop and still is! It's the perfect blend of candy flavor pop that anyone can dance to. Y'all can't change my mind!" — Melissah Yang, Entertainment Director
"This song reminds me of summer beers and dancing. It came out during my semester abroad in Prague, so I missed the entirety of the hoopla around it., I came back and was like 'Y’all are losing your mind over THIS?' Carly Rae Jepsen has proven time and time again that she's a pop music genius. At the time, 'Call Me Maybe' had the audacity to be fun, twee, lighthearted pop, in a time when our pop stars were all going through their 'Dark Artsy Fartsy' phases. 'Call Me Maybe' was pure hearted, genuine, and open. We don’t often get that amount of genuine expression in pop music; I think a lot of people who initially loved the song thought they were doing it with irony, and it actually turns out they liked it. A lot." — Amanda Mitchell, Senior Beauty Writer/Stories Creator
"The first thing that comes to mind is being 20 and wanting Carly Rae's bangs. 'Call Me Maybe' came out my sophomore year of college, and at that time, you could not go a day without hearing it at least once. When I hear even the first few notes of the song today, I'm immediately warm and fuzzy inside. It's instant nostalgia and should be on every single party playlist. It's a perfect radio pop song! I saw Carly Rae perform the song at Gov Ball last year, and even now, it's a true banger of a track. I think perhaps the most iconic part of the song's legacy is who Carly Rae became as an artist. I'm sure a lot of people thought she'd be a one hit wonder, but here we are a decade later, and she's put out some of the most interesting, well-produced pop music (including one of the best full pop albums) in recent history."
— Annie Black, Social Media Editor
— Annie Black, Social Media Editor
"I immediately get annoyed thinking of this song. Every time I was in the car and my mom was driving it would play on every radio station. TBH all I wanted to listen to was Drake. I still can't listen to it to this day. Sorry not sorry!" — Nadia Ebrahim, Assistant Style Editor, R29 Style
Interviews have been edited and condensed for clarity.