Review Summary: An open letter to Katy Perry.
Dear Ms. Perry,
I really do want to convince myself that you aren't one of those flash-in-the-pan pop stars. I mean, really, you yourself even admit it on the very first track of your debut album with the words, "I don't wanna be just one of the boys
". I mean, that claim was, in a way, semi-laughable off the bat because "I Kissed A Girl" got played every 20 minutes on the hour everywhere we walked, but considering the true talent there was surrounding your debut, I was convinced that we had someone who was clearly not just another pop artist and had some excellent, tongue in cheek tunes and a killer singing voice to boot too. But, it's so painful to think that you'd allow yourself to succumb to the sophomore slump so easily with Teenage Dream
; not only is it a departure from what came before, but it was almost as you forgot completely who you were.
Alright, maybe "completely" is a little dramatic. I mean, there's a few songs on this album that do remind us of who you once were. But listening to this album makes it so easy to notice that you've sacrificed talent for lowest-common-denominator pop. I mean, sure One of the Boys
very much pop, but it's intelligent and is very tongue in cheek and subtle. I can't remember the last time I laughed so hard at a song like "Ur So Gay" before, or even the catchy and funny "Waking Up In Vegas". I guess you can say this album does have its own version of the latter, which is "Last Frday Night". But it has none of the cleverness and comes off as a pale copy.
Trying to connect the dots
Don't know what to tell my boss
Think the city towed my car
Chandelier is on the floor
Ripped my favourite party dress
Warrants out for my arrest
Think I need a ginger ale
That was such an epic fail
Pictures of last night
Ended up online
It's a blacked-out blur
But I'm pretty sure it ruled
Of course, what makes "Waking Up in Vegas" stand out is the sense of humour and wit of the lyrics, along with a nice musical melody. In this song neither are to be found- the music especially is the same four chords repeated over and over again, with zero variety, though a nice saxophone solo in the bridge does shake things up a bit.
If anything, I can't accuse Teenage Dream
of not trying, but rather of trying too hard. "Firework" and "The One That Got Away" are perhaps the most obvious examples; both seem as if you're trying to transcend the cookie-cutter pop style that she's taken, but alas, all you can do is make it sound like cookie-cutter pop with your singing over the music. And you know, I'll give you credit for trying hard with "The One That Got Away" to yank some tears from our eyes, but it lacks the emotional punch that made songs such as "Self Inflicted" or the devastating
"I'm Still Breathing" such an enriching experience. Problem with "Firework" as well is that there are so many other damned songs out there like them, it's foolishness. And not that it's a bad an or anything, but it feels so paint-by-the-numbers, and even Pink's "Raise Your Glass" sounds fresher and more powerful than it. Let's not even get started on "Peacock"; what on earth were you thinking??? I mean, there are things I would do, horrible, unspeakable things, just to unhear "I wanna see your peacock-cock-cock-cock". Yeah, that song is so bad I'd do so much as convince my local record store to ban the album because of that song alone. And never mind the unsubtle sexual innuendos that surround it (and memories of L.F.O.'s "I'll Show Ya Mine" conjured), the whole song itself is a bloody unholy mess. Thank The Lord it was never released as a single.
However, I must say you did give me (unfortunately false) hope with "Circle the Drain". That and "E.T." are the two songs on this album that are worth listening to; more than once, even. The former is a cool song reminiscent of your debut album and some stellar vocal work is to be found here, I mean, after all, I do enjoy your voice. And "E.T." is cool and anthemic. I like the dubstep-esque music and anthemic chorus. You also show off some stellar vocal work on the song too. Sadly, those two songs are the only songs on the album that didn't make me cringe and shudder in fear.
But, you know, it's not in my nature to hope anyone's career fails because of one below-par album, and I mean, really, how many artists have slumped with their sophomore efforts before? I do believe you have a bright future ahead of you and I really do hope you can rise above the ashes with your next album. But I'm hoping to God it doesn't sound like this. I mean, you're far more talented than what's showcased here, even your debut showed us. Perhaps one way you can solve this problem is by staying away from awful producers like Dr. Luke, who is responsible for such atrocities as Animal by Ke$ha. Either way, get your act together, because it'd be a shame to lose you.