It’s been a long road for Katy Perry. After a long period of gospel music, culminating in a Gospel-Rock album that went nowhere, she underwent a total revamp and after years of hit and miss, a cosign by Madonna herself, a label folding and a label dropping her, she finally got real traction with 2008 monster hit “I Kissed a Girl” and became a pop phenomenon. But everyone can be hot for their first album. On her latest release, Teenage Dream, Perry sets out to craft an album that cements her staying power.
The title track, is powered by a breathy innocence, which finds her ready to give herself to that special someone. Her range is on full display on the break with a distorted electric guitar and contrasts with the sweet delivery of the body. The sentiment is immediately discarded on “Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.)” which begins with Perry awakening with a hangover, next to a stranger in bed, in the midst of post-party Apocalypse; remembering nothing but maxing credit cards, too many shots, skinny dipping and threesomes.
Snoop Dogg guests on the thumping ode to Cali hotties, “California Gurls.” It’s pop decadence, and you’ve heard this before many times and Snoop on top doesn’t save it. The dance rhythm of “Firework” belies the depth of lyricism. Perry’s strong vocals are on display against the backdrop of chunky strings and pounding rhythm. “Firework” reminds the listener never to give up on themselves even when the going gets tough.
“Peacock” is a song about Perry’s quest to see what you’ve got in your pants. She may have kissed a girl but there’s no mistaking what kind of frontal nudity she’s checking for on this. She wants to get broke off but she wants to check the merchandise first. Heavy guitars muscle “Circle The Drain,” an ode to watching someone throw their life away via drug addiction. Katy decides that she no longer wants a front row seat to your self-destruction. She notes:
Shoulda been my teammate, but you chose your fate. You say that you love me but you’ll forget in the morning. You fall asleep during foreplay cause the pills you take are more your forte, I’m not sticking around to watch you go down. Wanna be your lover not your fucking mother’ Can’t be your savior, I don’t have the power.
The cheerleader drum and steady piano of “The One That Got Away” has Perry recounting her lost high school romance in the traditional alternative-reality-dreaming-that-they-are-still-here way. “E.T” is a digital diddy that slows down to boom-boom clap pace. The title refers to the object of her affection, who’s so different from the other boys that he’s otherworldly. Corny but cute.
“Who Am I Living For?” is a slow “Justified” sounding sizzler of a song with strong vocals from Perry. Her chops are on display further on “Pearl” on the lower end of her range and makes solid allegory while telling the tale of a girl whose brilliance is being snuffed out by smothering relationship and the return from that dark place.
Synths and guitars power the saccharine but steady “Hummingbird Heart” which again finds Katy in full butterfly mode and in love with someone who makes her heart all aflutter. “Not Like The Movies” is a powerful personal track that slows down the pace of the album and deals ably with a girl’s first time, the things involved in making that decision and the aftermath. The slow ballad gives an indication of how Katy can grow as an artist when she’s too old to sell sex. The album closes with two club remixes to “California Gurls” and “Teenage Dream.”
Teenage Dream is an album that runs the gamut from youthful indiscretion to sincere emotion. It features Katy Perry as both Pop princess and a legitimate vocalist and showcases the full range of her voice and delivery. It not only places her back in the Pop Zeitgeist but offers her a way to grow into something more powerful as she ages.
Katy Perry- Circle The Drain Circle The Drain
Out of 5
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