Saturday, September 4, 2010

Mini Review: Katy Perry's "Teenage Dream"

I’m going to give it to you straight: I’m actually morally offended by how abysmal this album is. Upon listening to it, I actually had to switch songs midway for the majority of the track listing because it felt as though my ears were Nazis in a previous lifetime and were only now receiving their brutal punishment. Although an awful song, lead single “California Girls” was catchy enough to be tolerable (if you were at a nightclub dancing away your urge to throw up all the shots you just took to eliminate the ugly and increase your fun). Then came “Teenage Dream,” the second single, which only contributed one positive thing to the world: this fan tribute video.

Songs like “Not Like The Movies” prove that sometimes even AutoTune can’t pass off breathy spoken vocals as singing, and songs like “E.T.” prove that sometimes AutoTune can make a human sound like Rosie from The Jetsons. In “Hummingbird Heartbeat,” Perry sings “You make me feel like I’m losing my virginity the first time and the time when you touchin’ me, I make you bloom like a flower that you never seen. Under the sun we are one buzzin’ energy … Some call it signs, we call it chemistry, this is the story of the birds and the bees.” With lyrics such as these, Perry proves her incredible skills as both a lyricist and a grammarian. And if you think that songwriting is embarrassing, just listen to the first ten seconds of “Peacock,” a song (and I use that term extremely loosely) in which Perry sings “Are you brave enough to let me see your peacock? Don’t be a chicken boy, stop acting like a bee-otch.” I couldn’t make this shit up if I tried -- but at least this song gives gay men with too much time something to do. Be sure to also remember that all this "music" is coming from a woman who chastised Lady GaGa for being “blasphemous” and sang that she “felt so wrong” kissing a girl. Looks like our good little former Christian singer has traded in her preaching and morals for hypocrisy and cash. The only 2010 release worse than this one is Ke$ha’s. From that perspective, at least Perry has accomplished something with this album.


fountainofyouth said...

Hilarious - but lay off Ke$ha!

Anonymous said...

Wait, wait, wait a second - you slam Katy Perry pop (granted, she's not the best out there) but praise Britney Spears and The Veronicas (one hit wonders)?

Alex Nagorski said...

@Anonymous: The difference for me between Katy Perry and the artists you mentioned is that while they are also producing the same "type" of music, what they come out with tends to challenge the genre rather than just bank on everything else already out there. Although I admit Britney has come out with a lot of garbage over the years, there's no denying that she still pushes boundaries. Overall, her albums are produced by teams of people who know precisely how to fill whatever void pop music is experiencing. Just listen to "Blackout," the album she released in the midst of her crazy years. It's a dark, electronic record unlike anything she had ever put out before. While it wasn't as commercially viable as some of her previous material, the sound Britney exuded blurred the lines of strict dance music with mainstream bubblegum pop, paving the road for artists like Lady GaGa (who appeared on the scene a few months later). Britney Spears is by no means some sort of profound artist, but you can't deny her status as a music icon. All the Madonna comparisons do measure up because with each record, Britney revamps both her image and sound rather than playing it safe and adhering to her peers on the radio. Rather than rushing to release a follow-up to 2008's "Circus", Britney is hard at work revolutionizing her sound in an attempt to come out with a record that will once again change and influence pop music. She could easily release something that would be a clone of hits like "Womanizer," but that's not the approach she's taking. Look at this article that was posted a few days ago: For that, I respect Britney a lot. I am confident that although the music will most likely not be the most intellectually stimulating, it will be sleek, sophisticated pop music that will easily distinguish itself from its competitors.

In terms of The Veronicas: While they may be one hit wonders in America, they're HUGE in their homeland of Australia. They play sold out stadium shows and have strings of hits after hits. Also throughout Europe (in countries such as the UK), they are widely represented on mainstream radio. Regardless of that, however, I've never been one who believes that record sales and/or popularity are what define a musician as successful. For the same reasons that I mentioned that I appreciate Britney Spears, I appreciate The Veronicas. Their first album was complete pop/rock, very reminiscent of a lot of other artists with a similar sound such as Kelly Clarkson. With their second album, "Hook Me Up," however, they took that pop/rock and infused it with a heavy dose of electronica. Their songs transcend the boundaries of people who only listen to rock or only listen to dance music, creating a hybrid of the two genres that can appeal to fans on both sides of the spectrum. And while they may not be the most poetic songwriters on the music scene today, their lyrics are still the products of more creativity and vulnerability than "I wanna see your peacock."

I believe that artists that stick to the safe zone by just contributing to sounds that are "in" or have already been proven bankable are just ... boring. I think Katy Perry is a smart business woman in that she knew exactly how to market herself to make money off of this album. But if you compare her two CDs, the first one showed at least a few traces of an artistic seed being planted. Then she strapped on a whipped cream bikini and came out with a safe, generic record that was complete manufactured pop without the slightest dose of original flavor. That's my main problem with it: You can't tell the difference between what she's coming out with in comparison to other people on the radio today. I don't think Katy Perry is a lost cause, but I don't think she's contributing anything or furthering today's pop music in any way.