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Katy Perry Song Reviews

Katy Perry: One of the Boys (2008)

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One of the Boys

One of the Boys A-

When this song starts out, all I hear is a sort of Hillary Duff clone. Sure it's catchy, but it's fairly indistinguishable from her contemporaries. But once the chorus comes up, a funny thing happens that catches me by surprise: It actually becomes endearing. The chorus is quite a thing with a remarkably catchy melody, a soaring and playful vocal performance and harmonies that sell it. The song development was done really well, too... the verses and chorus meld in perfectly together. I would have preferred something other than that choppy refrain, but even that sounds pretty good to me despite the ultra-polished guitar sound. The lyrics are really cute about a tomboy who wants to be more girly. Well, I'm officially intrigued. (Oh, and hitting my sweet spot are some synthesizer tones that recall classic-era Cars.)

I Kissed a Girl B

To be honest, I didn't like this at all the first time I heard it. That drum rhythm is right off of a Gary Glitter album, and her singing style sounds too much like she's aping other radio divas. (Although she's a better singer than most of them.) The buzz synthesizer in the chorus is also very common to the pop scene of the '00s. But just like “One of the Boys” it grows on me. It's an infectious tune! It's overproduced, but it doesn't annoy me for some reason.

Waking Up in Vegas C

Ooooo... now this is pretty bland. It doesn't have much of a melody, and it doesn't have nearly the same quality of harmonies as the previous two tracks. There are a few fairly nice textures in the verses, but this could have been recorded by anyone. The chorus is really bland, something that would make me think what I heard in “One of the Boys” was a complete fluke if I wasn't already aware what was on the rest of the album. The Alanis Morrisette vocal styling was also a bad idea... she's much better when she sounds natural.

Thinking of You C+

Stop it! She's trying to sound exactly like Sarah McLachlan throughout this... Well, it's not all that bad, actually, but I'd rather not hear impersonations. The song itself is fine, though. The melody is reasonably catchy, though rather forgettable, and it's easy for me to get caught up in that soaring chorus. The main drawbacks are that it's way too serious and geared straight for the pop-radio market. Though I'm reading the lyrics, and they're not nearly as cliched as I thought they would be.

Mannequin B

Ah, now that's more like it. She has some real power in those chops when she's not intentionally muting them trying to sound like someone else. The texture at the beginning of this is really cute and likable, although that goodness was extinguished by the time the chorus comes around and those choppy guitars come in and dominate everything. Those song producers really should try not to follow these trends too closely. The lyrics are really terrible this time and contains all sorts of cliches, but I sort of like the clever way she plays with the line: “You're not a man/you're just a mannequin.”

Ur So Gay A

This is another one of the controversies, but it's a really fun and well-written song. It's tongue-in-cheek (just check out the music video where Perry displays a huge shit-eating grin the whole time), and the lyrics are surprisingly clever in a juvenile sort of way. But I suppose the controversy comes in because 12-year-olds are more apt to think that it's much more serious than that. Ah whatever. The melody is instantly catchy, and the chorus is great. That whistling track that plays in the background is something that is fondly reminiscent of Peter Gabriel's “Games Without Frontiers.” The song production was overdone, though much of the instrumentation served it well. The horn synths coming in for the final third even proved to be a good idea, and helps keep the hooks fresh.

Hot N Cold C+

Those rapid-fire synthesizers at the beginning had me hoping that this would be something of a Sparks' “No. 1 Song in Heaven” retread... but I was just dreaming! The chorus is really disappointing, this time sounding very bland and something way too common to her contemporaries. I would like to point out that the song has an interesting ending (it's a weird, sort of technical failure), which does much to suggest to me that she's an actual serious musician. She's just spending way too much effort trying to sound like other people on the radio. That's Katy Perry's fatal flaw.

If You Can Afford Me C

This is also OK, but again she was concentrating way too much on mimicking those bland sounds on the radio. The melody is mostly non-distinctive, albeit passable, and so is the instrumentation. Her vocals are definitely good, though. They sound like they're coming from an actual girl, and not manipulated by machines. That alone is respectable enough these days.

Lost A

See, there's a good songwriter in there all along! She just should stop imitating things, and write her own thing in her own style. This is really a gorgeous, contemplative ballad with a sweet melody and a soaring vocal performance that sounds like she's singing it from her heart. The lyrics might not be Shakespeare, but they're faaaaaaaaar from the common drivel that's usually on pop albums. (I wouldn't even be mentioning the lyrics if I didn't read so frequently that they were bad.) The twinkling arrangements are also an incredibly endearing quality of this. ...I just wish all the songs sounded like this.

Self Inflicted B

Those electric guitars probably shouldn't have been over-processed like that, but I guess we have to realize the sort of genre we're listening to! Anyway, I guess they don't sound that bad anyway. Once again, she managed to write a fitfully catchy pop melody, and she's singing normally with high spirits and energy. It really helps the whole drive of the track, and it's easy to get caught up in the spirit. So, yes, it's good.

I'm Still Breathing A-

Usually songwriters who can nail ballads can nail anything, and she writes an excellent ballad once again. It's not as captivating as “Lost,” but this atmospheric thing is still mesmerizing in its own right. The song production is thick, but it's not overdone and generally constructive to creating the atmosphere. The melody has a great flow to it, the chorus is very memorable, and again there's something worth hearing in that vocal performance and it's certainly not anything aesthetic.

Fingerprints C+

Not the explosive ending I might have hoped for. Those vocals do sound like they were processed somehow... either that or she's mimicking one of those tween singers. (OK, I guess she *is* a tween singer, but ... that doesn't mean she has to sing like one.) I'm not repulsed too badly at this although those guitars really should sound more like God intended them to be instead of these over-processed things. This is mostly an upbeat pop-rocker with a slightly above average melody. There is a ballad refrain, which does remind me vaguely of The Beach Boys. So, she does let a little sunshine peak through.

Teenage Dream (2010)

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Teenage Dream

Teenage Dream B

Hi! ...Have you ever seen the cover art for this album? Oh, don't rely on those small pictures you're seeing on this site. You gotta find a blown-up version. ...May I please just stare at that in lieu of telling you what I think of this song? ... It's like a '40s pin-up picture except there's bits of fluff covering all the naughty bits... Why cover up the naughty bits? This thing already comes with the “explicit” tag... Anyway, this song isn't bad at all. However, I still have to express some disappointment over it. The opening song of One of the Boys was such an excellent bit of bubble-gum pop that was brash and energetic, and listening to it was like a fresh of breath air. This song, while just fine, doesn't give me such excitement. It's very polished and disciplined. She uses usual drum machines that pound away at a mid-tempo pace and some buzzy synthesizers grooving away in a detached manner in the background. Perry sings sweetly until the chorus, which she belts out in the way she does. The melody is alright, too. Not terribly memorable, but still can be fun if you're in the mood for it.

Last Friday Night (T. G. I. F.) B

It was probably just a strange anomaly I liked One of the Boys so much. ...Or maybe that was just a strangely inspired album? ...Once again, the song production seems way too polished and disciplined for my taste. Perry sings well although I do believe I'm detecting a bit of vocal embellishment. (Katy Perry needs vocal embellishments as much as she needs to enlarge her breasts.) On the plus side, this song gets a nice little mid-tempo groove going, and Perry's simple though hooky melody meshes well with it. Will you tap your toe? Maybe! ...There's one point in this that they tricked me into believing a real saxophone was noodling in a jazzy manner like I was listening to a good old '70s album... but then I hear it going into these absurdly high registers... Haha...

California Gurls B

This was touted as the big single from this album, and … For pete's sake, why is this so underwhelming?!?! For some reason I was interested enough to watch a video of this song on the Internet when it was released, and … well, I love watching Katy Perry dance around on stage in an old-fashioned bathing suit, but I wasn't too wild about the song she was singing. I was always waiting for it to TAKE OFFFFFFFFF!!!! like so many songs from her debut did. ...Oh well. ...Oh, and Snoop Dog raps in this. I almost don't notice him, since rappers who guest on pop albums generally don't contribute melodies.

Firework C

Well here it is... Everything had been quite decent, but it was only a matter of time the album would start taking a dive. The melody still isn't memorable, but for the first time in the album, I'm not enjoying it in the slightest as its playing. Perry's singing loudly and nicely, but again with the vocal effects? Can't you sing like an old fashioned singer? You have these '40s pin-up pictures, so why not let the vocals match? The music producers/sound engineers spent all their time on the previous three songs, and they don't do much here. It's your basic pounding mid-tempo drum machine beat and some fairly uninteresting string synths. Yawn.

Peacock D-

She's entering Lady Gaga territory... Isn't it bad enough that we have to put up with Lady Gaga in this universe? But now we have Katy Perry imitating her! ...Come on! We want the freshness back from your debut, KATY PERRY! Freshness is not Lady Gaga's ambition in this world. Whatever happened to those funny lyrics? Well I mean these lyrics are so ridiculous that this could be a parody... and if it is, then it would be hilarious... But, seriously, I don't think they are... She just wanted to encroach on Lady Gaga territory... (“I wanna see your peacock-cock-cock-cock-cock” … “Are you brave enough to let me see your peacock / Don't be a chicken, boy, stop acting like a biotch / Imma peace out if you don't give me the pay off”) ...Really the lyrics aren't the reason I dislike this song so much. It's annoying. It's like a nightmarish version of Toni Basil's “Mickey.” The melody is dumb, dumb, dumb. Errrrgh. The only thing keeping it out of F territory is that I feel I must recognize the fact that there's a middle-eight section. (That's apparently the moment she got to see the peacock.)

Circle the Drain B+

Alright, back to the ordinary goodness, which seems to be the high standard of this album. ...In fact, maybe this is a little better than the usual standard for this album, because I like that driving disco beat. Also, as long as they were digitally enhancing Perry's voice in this album, at least they put a fun sort of echoing effect on them at the end of every stanza. ...You see, I don't always hate vocal embellishments! Unfortunately, the song's appeal for me stops there. (And you know I give these things more benefit of the doubt than most people who like Can albums do, right? ...I mean, not that I think I'm better than people who don't like Can or anything... However, people who like Can tend to be somewhat snobbish when it comes to mainstream teenager music.) The melody could have used stronger hooks. Whatever happened to those nice Katy Perry melodies that used to get stuck in my head? I still remember how that one song goes... “Ur so gay, and you don't even like boys...” That was just two and a half years ago, and melodies like that were already the old days?

The One That Got Away B-

This might have been pretty good if the producers reprogrammed that drum beat. It's loud, pounding, and monotonous, and it doesn't add anything whatsoever to the texture. ...Oh man! This makes me appreciate those '80s Genesis albums I've been listening to even more, because say what you want about Phil Collins, he wouldn't be caught dead putting his name on a song with such a boring drum rhythm in it. (Boom-boom-boom-boom-boom-boom-boom-boom-boom-boom... forever. No fills or hi-hats tapping around or anything.) Other than that, this is sort of nice. The melody soars pleasantly, and the string arrangements are quite lovely. It's a wholly decent power ballad.

E.T. D

Here is my well-thought-out, intellectual criticism of this song: Booooooooo! If you listen to this song, you'll probably do the same thing. Unless you don't like Can, or something. Not only is the rhythm section completely botched, this time sounding like Queen's “We Will Rock You” except without the infectiousness, but the synthesizers are overproduced and terrible. Perry doesn't bother coming out with much of a melody, and of course the producers over-polished her vocals so much that they're entirely without personality. YAWN.

Who Am I Living For? D+

That's a good question. And, “Why Am I Listening to This Album?” is another good one! Oh, Katy Perry... Could it have been her fiancee? Could she suspect that he actually likes boys, and such a realization completely sucked out the inspiration that she once had? ...This is yet another disappointing song. It's not nearly as annoying as the previous song, but it's just as boring. Perry is singing boisterously another forgettable melody to another dead-dull drum groove. Yawn. Yawny yawn yawn. ...Imma listen me some Yanni after this.

Pearl C-

This is like Pearl Harbor on my eaaaaarrrsssssss. Listen, Lady Perry. I've been giving you the benefit of the doubt. But I'm sick and tired of this. ...Should I be more detailed? Perry is singing another power ballad with a melody that isn't interesting to instrumentation that isn't interesting. I mean, at least they let it flow well and let the drum machines evolve for once... But I still don't find it interesting. And the vocal effects that the producers put on her aren't interesting, either. At the very least it isn't annoying me. ...Is that interesting?

Hummingbird Heartbeat C

I'd rather literally listen to a hummingbird heartbeat than this song. Has anybody ever recorded such a thing? Given the rather awful quality of these songs in the latter half of the album, I think Her Royal Perryness should have just released an EP. ...I know I gave this a C, which seems to suggest this album has been slowly getting better in quality. Truth be told, there's at least a slight bit of energy here. Other than that? The melody isn't interesting. Whoever was in charge of the instrumentation was doing color-by-numbers. No invention? Yawwwwn. Imma listen me some—wait I already said that.

Not Like The Movies C

Yay, the final song of the album! ...But why is this so boring? …Maybe I should seriously listen to some Yanni after this to see if that guy is exciting at all. This is the album's only low-key ballad, and the only song here that doesn't use any vocal embellishments that I can detect. Since I usually like low-key ballads, you would think I would finally start to get out of this funk and like something in this album. But no dice. This is boring. It's supposed to be “emotional” or whatever, but I don't care about it. The melody is forgettable. Don't you remember when Katy Perry used to write nice melodies? Yanni.

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All reviews are written by Michael Lawrence.