Katy Perry’s Delusions of Grandeur

I love to hate her. I hate that I love her. I guess you could say I have a classic love/hate relationship with Katy Perry. On the one hand, she’s the female pop star most likely to make me sweat. On the other, I think she’s way too full of herself.

I recently saw an interview on South American TV in which she was asked what sets her apart from pop’s other divas. “How am I different from other female pop stars?” she began her response by way of repeating the question (how annoying). “I guess I’m more interesting.”

For me, that would depend on which Katy Perry I’m listening to: “I Kissed a Girl” Katy Perry or “Hot N Cold” Katy Perry? “If We Ever Meet Again” or “California Gurls”? She’s got to be the most maddening star on planet pop, brilliant one single, unlistenable the next. Like clockwork, for every great hit, she counters with a dreadful one, and vice-versa. There are three sides to Perry: the good, the bad and the butt ugly.

The good: “Hot N Cold,” one of the best singles of the century and Perry’s crowning achievement so far, and “If We Ever Meet Again,” her recent collaboration with Timbaland. The latter, a huge UK hit that stalled in the U.S., is yet another perfect example of how the Brits, more than the Yankees, know a great pop song when they hear one.

The bad: “I Kissed a Girl,” her first No. 1 hit and the musical equivalent to eating dust.

The butt ugly: “California Gurls,” her second No. 1 hit and the reason why I’ll probably never again own a radio. I’m not sure which is worse — that she considers this unfortunate summer of 2010 anthem to be a viable West Coast companion piece to Jay-Z and Alicia Keys’s “Empire State of Mind,” the orthographically challenged title (which, on the plus side, means it will never be confused with the Beach Boys classic), or that she dragged Snoop Dogg, a once credible “gangsta” rapper, down with her.

As usual, she’s redeemed herself (sort of) with her follow-up single, “Teenage Dream,” the title song from her new album (due August 24). It’s a slightly more rock-flavored affair that kind of makes me want to fall in lust and hit the beach (though not necessarily in that order). That said, “Teenage Dream” is indicative of my overall problem with the 25-year-old rising star. She’s not the second coming of Deborah Harry, or Madonna, or Gwen Stefani, that she seems to think she is. Musically, “Teenage Dream” is solid pop with a slightly New Order-ish vibe, but it doesn’t break any new ground. Like Perry, it won’t be influencing anyone in 20 years — or even two! And shouldn’t Miley Cyrus be singing lines like “We can dance until we die/You and I/We’ll be young forever”? Is that more interesting than Rihanna (Katy’s new BFF, who’s planning her bachelorette party as I type), Robyn or Elly Jackson from La Roux? At least it’s better than Ke$ha.

Memo to Katy: You’re a big girl now, the First Lady of Hot, according to Maxim magazine. Act your age. It might make you as interesting as Fergie. She already knows that big girls don’t cry — and I bet she hasn’t had a teenage dream since she turned sweet 16. TC mark

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