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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Every so often our friends at NPR Music alert us to something hot and new.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "CALL ME MAYBE")

CARLY RAE JEPSEN: (Singing) Where you think you're going, baby?Hey, I just met you, and this is crazy. But here's my number so call me, maybe?

GREENE: And, I mean, we're always looking for a good excuse to play music on the program, aren't we? This is the song, "Call Me Maybe." It's from pop singer Carly Rae Jepsen. It has gone totally viral. The video for the song actually has quite a twist, and we'll get to that in a moment. But we wanted to bring in NPR's music critic Ann Powers. And, Ann, how often does a song just go viral like this?

ANN POWERS, BYLINE: It happens occasionally, David, but not always with the intensity of this completely infectious song.

GREENE: Where is it on the charts? I mean, is it moving up?

POWERS: "Call Me Maybe" by the Canadian singer Carly Rae Jepsen is shooting up the charts internationally. It's already been number one in a bunch of countries, and it's heading toward the number one spot, in the top five, right now, in America.

GREENE: But, you know, I wonder if the world of YouTube has changed the importance of the charts, because it doesn't seem like the charts always are the perfect gage of how much people love a song. The video on YouTube has really exploded.

POWERS: Absolutely. Carly Rae Jepsen is part of the universe that includes her mentor, Justin Bieber. Justin Bieber and his girlfriend Selena Gomez were in Canada, where Carly Rae Jepsen is already a star. And they discovered this song on the radio. They then tweeted about it and made a video of themselves singing along to it. And that was kind of the beginning of this viral explosion.

The official video has Carly noticing her hunky neighbor mowing his lawn across the street. And she decides she's going to chase after him. And so there's a typical, kind of, like romance novel scenario, where Carly is rehearsing with her band. And they push her to wash her car. So the boy sees her washing her car.

And, you know, the typical ending would be they would get together. The neighbor comes over and watches Carly's band play. And then the twist. The neighbor comes up and gives his phone number, not to Carly, but to her male guitar player. Everyone looks confused, but nobody looks that unhappy.

This is what has led to myriad YouTube reinterpretations. And what's so interesting is that in the fantasy space of these parodies of "Call Me Maybe" people are trying on new roles. And everyone's really comfortable if a guy wants to act like Carly Rae Jepsen and be besotted with another guy. It's really not a problem.

GREENE: And I think we actually have a clip of one of these parody videos that's shown up on YouTube.

(SOUNDBITE OF YOUTUBE VIDEO, "CALL ME MAYBE OBSESSED")

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: It's just going to be another guilty pleasure that Dave has to hide. I wish I could run through the streets, naked, dancing to this.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #2: This is embarrassing.

POWERS: Yeah, this one I love. It's called "Call Me Maybe Obsessed." And it's two hipster dudes who keep a secret from each other. And that secret is they have both completely fallen in love with the song. And they're changing their lives, basically, so they can spend all of their time listening to this song. And it's making them into better men, basically.

GREENE: That's the secret they reveal.

POWERS: Exactly. And the end, it's a beautiful, happy ending with them skipping down the street arm in arm, singling along with the song. It's a brave new future of liberated manhood. I love it.

GREENE: Music critic Ann Powers. Thanks so much for being here.

POWERS: Oh, thanks for having me.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "CALL ME MAYBE")

JEPSEN: Before you came into my life, I missed you so bad. I missed you so bad.

GREENE: And you can watch all the "Call Me Maybe" videos from Justin Bieber, from some eighth graders, from those two hipster dudes, Carly Rae Jepsen herself. It's all at NPRMusic.org.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "CALL ME MAYBE")

JEPSEN: (Singing) So, so bad, bad, bad, bad, bad.

GREENE: This is NPR News.

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