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Jepsen spent her formative years absorbing pop culture in her hometown of Mission, British Columbia, Canada. She starred in productions of Annie, Grease, and The Wiz at her high school and became one of 25 female students to be admitted to the Canadian College of Performing Arts in Victoria, British Columbia. After graduation, Jepsen -- who had relocated to Vancouver and worked as a barista and pastry chef assistant at a coffeehouse where she performed at open-mike nights -- was persuaded by her drama teacher to audition for Canadian Idol. Jepsen competed in the fifth season of the show in 2007, ultimately winning third place and performing in the show's nationwide tour. Meanwhile, her demo for the competition caught the ear of manager Jonathan Simkin, who helped her get a deal with 604 Records. In 2008, she released her folky debut LP, Tug of War, which featured a cover of John Denver's 1974 hit ballad "Sunshine on My Shoulders." The album's singles "Tug of War" and "Bucket" were both Top 40 hits on the Canadian Hot 100.
For her second album, Jepsen took a more danceable pop direction. Working with Josh Ramsay of Marianas Trench -- who appeared on Tug of War and also took Jepsen on tour with his band -- as well as Ryan Stewart and Tavish Crowe, she premiered her new sound with the 2011 single "Call Me Maybe." It became the best-selling single of 2012, topping the Canadian, U.S., and U.K. charts as well as those of 18 other countries, and ultimately earned a Grammy Award nomination for Song of the Year and won a Juno Award for Single of the Year. The Curiosity EP, which featured "Call Me Maybe," followed in early 2012. That June, the Owl City duet "Good Time" arrived and peaked at number eight on the Billboard charts. Jepsen's second album, Kiss, appeared in September 2012. It debuted in the Top Ten in Canada and the U.S. and won Album of the Year and Pop Album of the Year Juno Awards a year later. The Japan-only release Kiss: The Remixes appeared in 2013.
Jepsen began work on her third album in early 2013, collaborating with producers Ramsay, Stewart, and Max Martin on songs inspired by '80s pop and folk. In early 2014, she began a 12-week run as the lead role in the Broadway production of Rodgers & Hammerstein's Cinderella. She returned with new music in March 2015 with "I Really Like You," which became another Top 40 hit. Featuring collaborations with songwriters including Sia, Devonté Hynes, and Ariel Rechtshaid, and producers such as Mattman & Robin and Greg Kurstin, her third full-length, E-MO-TION, arrived that August. Boasting a more mature sound, the album was a Top Ten hit in Canada and a Top 20 hit in the U.S. and was ultimately shortlisted for the 2016 Polaris Prize. She made appearances on Bleachers' Terrible Thrills, Vol. 2 in 2015 and the Knocks' debut album a year later.
In early 2016, Jepsen played Frenchy in the live television performance of Grease and recorded the theme song to Fuller House, the reboot of the family sitcom Full House. In August 2016, she released E-MO-TION: Side B, an EP featuring eight tracks that had been in consideration for the album. The following May, another E-MO-TION outtake, "Cut to the Feeling," featured in the animated film Leap, in which Jepsen voiced the character Odette. Following a tour with Katy Perry, in November 2018 Jepsen released the single "Party for One." For her fourth album, she wrote almost 200 songs, with the feel-good sounds of ABBA and Donna Summer among her wide-ranging inspirations. Featuring collaborations with Jack Antonoff, Patrik Berger, Tavish Crowe, and Captain Cuts, Dedicated arrived in May 2019 and balanced its '70s disco influences with tropical pop and other 2010s trends. It debuted at number 18 on the Billboard 200, becoming her third Top 20 album. Dedicated Side B, an album-length collection of outtakes, appeared a year after Dedicated's release.
Alongside 2020's holiday-themed "It's Not Christmas 'til Somebody Cries" (which reached number 11 on the Billboard Holiday Digital Songs chart), Jepsen spent much of the next couple years writing songs for her next album with Crowe. The July 2022 stand-alone single "Move Me," a collaboration with Lewis Ofman, preceded that October's full-length The Loneliest Time. A reflective set of songs blending folk, funk, disco, and pop from the '70s and '80s, the album's creative team included Crowe, Captain Cuts, Alex Hope, Rostam Batmanglij, and Bullion. It cracked the top 20 of both the Canadian and U.S. albums charts. The James Ford-produced single "Shy Boy" appeared in June 2023. ~ Heather Phares & James Christopher Monger
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