#1 of 10
Carly Rae Jepsen once told us that she makes music so people can escape. And you know what? “Cut to the Feeling” does just that. It wastes no time cutting to the feeling-aka the chorus-and doesn’t let up until she’s taken us straight, “all the way” to emotion. Escape mode achieved. – HAYDEN MANDERS
#4 of 101
Cult-pop diva Carly Rae Jepsen released only one new song under her own name in 2017 (not counting a Target promo), so “Cut to the Feeling” carried more than its fair share of our playlist load this year. (In June, Spin named it the best song of the year so far.) Fortunately, the exuberant single is up to the job: Three-and-a-half minutes of perfectly calibrated pop, “Feeling” lines up its shots and then knocks them down with the giddy electricity of a video-game speedrun. The backing keyboard still believes in old-school house; every time the beat quits, a mob of handclaps spark up in its place; Jepsen’s soaring pre-chorus vocal leap could make the “Run Away With Me” sax blush. Originally written for the 2015 album Emotion and released this year on the soundtrack for animated film Leap!, “Cut to the Feeling” is equal to anything on Jepsen’s standalone projects. — ANNA GACA
Carly Rae Jepsen is pop music in its purest form. Emotion was the album that Katy Perry and Lady Gaga wanted—and are still trying desperately—to make. It’s smart, precinct pop music that would sound like laboratory bubblegum if it wasn’t so plugged into emerging tastes. Jepsen’s latest track “Cut to the Feeling” is among the dozens of tracks reportedly cut from Emotion. Like virtually every song on that album, “Cut to the Feeling” is boundlessly fun. Just let loose to it—jump on your bed in your underwear, be your own ’80s rom-com montage, hang through the sunroof of a limo. Just let Jepsen—who must have been genetically engineered to be a pop star—transport you to a world without problems. – MATT MILLER
#11 of 50
In some corners of the internet, Carly Rae Jepsen is the biggest pop star in the world. While the Canadian songwriter became a household name with “Call Me Maybe,” an inescapable chart-topping anthem about the perils of phones, she became an obsession for many playlist-building bloggers with 2015’s Emotion, a record that doubled down on big ’80s production flourishes and big heartbreak. (A case can be made for why her previous album Kiss was better than Emotion, but, really, you don’t care.) A castoff from the Emotion sessions, “Cut to the Feeling” is just as intoxicating as her best work, rushing from chorus to chorus with the reckless energy of a trigger-happy fireworks display. For a song about skipping right to the good part, it’s the perfect approach. – DAN JACKSON
#4 of 20
Why So High? Can anyone resist smiling and jumping around when this comes on? Carly proves she tapped into something truly magical with her Emotion album, and she sounds right at home cheerleading her way through an anthem that sounds like I Wanna Dance With Somebody’s peppy younger sister.
Why Not Higher? It’s an extension/revisit of the Emotion era, rather than showcasing what and who Carly Rae Jepsen is and sounds like in 2017. – JESSICA PETTERSON
#6 of 40
At some point, doesn’t the well have to run dry? Won’t Carly Rae Jepsen eventually run out of sugar-coated ’80s pop homages to drive into our hearts and minds? As long as she keeps dropping singles as effervescent and joyful as Cut to the Feeling, let’s hope that day never comes. – JAY CRIDLIN
#3 of 41
Imagine having so many amazing songs collecting dust on your laptop that you can afford to scrap a song like this from not one, but TWO albums, then throw it away on some minor animated film, and then service it with a D-grade music video a few months after that. Any other act would hinge the success of their entire era on something as effortlessly euphoric as ‘Cut to the Feeling’. Katy Perry would have flogged a track like this through this year and the next, and then ridden off into the sunset with a cartful of plaques and awards to show for it. Carly Rae Jepsen’s talent is, to put it politely, absolutely sickening, and here’s hoping for more examples of it in the very near future.
#4 of 30
Nobody in pop does songs about navigating sexual tension and making the first move better than Carly Rae — and this E•MO•TION-era gem, left off both her 2015 LP and its b-sides collection before finding a home in the movie Leap!, reaches the same giddy heights of “Call Me Maybe.” —N.F.