Brow Beat

There Are No Boys Allowed in Carly Rae Jepsen’s Dazzling Video for “Boy Problems”

One of the standouts on Carly Rae Jepsen’s pretty-much-critically-ignored album from last year, Emotion, is, hands down, “Boy Problems.” A bubbly, Sia–co-written ’80s confection that feels like it would easily fit onto a vintage Debbie Gibson album, the track finds Carly pulling double duty, singing in the voice of her exasperated girlfriend, who’s sick of hearing all about her tumultuous relationship with her beau, and as Carly herself, who “knows [her friend] is right and [that she] should not be offended.”

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Some have made the case that “Boy Problems” is a “beautiful gay song of discovery,” that the lyrics subtly hint that Carly is in denial about really being in love with her friend. And you can totally read it that way! But the new, dazzling video that has just dropped for the song doesn’t really give off those vibes, instead playing into the best-girlfriends-who-are-just-sick of-hearing-about-your-crappy-relationship theme. You’ll find no boys here; an array of young women mouth the words to the song, shake their heads at Carly, while Carly laments her love life amid a mountain of tissues in a bedroom. Aside from the laptops, iPads, and phone selfies, the video’s aesthetic matches the song’s ’80s theme, from the colorful Lisa Frank–esque cartoon art (photographer and designer Petra Collins directed) to the shoulder-padded outfits and gigantic hair.

It’s a delightful video, especially in light of the fact that the other women in the video look … normal, beautiful, and diverse. There are all different types of ladies annoyed with Carly’s boy problems, of different ethnicities, body types, and hairstyles. It might seem silly, but it’s nothing short of refreshing.  

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