I am not exactly fond of Katy Perry. No. Not really at all. Her music is agonistically danceable while being riddled with playful misogyny, hollow and cutesy “it’s a joke, duh!” overtones, and a general lack of sincerity. Perry is also propped up as an advocate of the LGBTQ community, while not exactly understanding anything about them/continually insulting community members. She has her gay fans, but she also has plenty of gay detractors.
I like bubblegum rump-shakin’, I was dancing to Jock Jams all of last night—C & C Music Company for life. But Katy Perry, Katy God Damn (and I’m only saying that because I know if offends her off color Christian roots) Perry. I see her as the Sarah Palin of music, appealing when gloss is applied but bumbling and misguided when you catch her off guard or ask deeper questions of her work. And though it took Sarah Palin being played by Julianne Moore for me to almost like her, and in spite of all the things I may dislike about Perry, I have seen a potential for like in her latest track.
“Part of Me” has been packaged in to her deluxe re-release, and newly dubbed, Teenage Dream: The Complete Confection. The album contains the original tracks plus three extra singles, the first of which is “Part of Me.” I’m not going to lie, it’s kind of a saucy power jam.
Though when I need to recall specifics of it, my mind actually thinks of a Kelly Clarkson song. This in it’s own way is a compliment . Kelly Clarkson is a belting beauty who has found a steady niche in lady power/lady positive work that appeals to a vast audience. It is a bridge between gay men and lesbians, country and pop fans, its everything Faith Hill was supposed to do and Carrie Underwood almost does.
In fact Clarkson’s most recent break-up jam was unseated on Billboard by Perry’s “Part of Me,” before ascending again to the top spot. Perry seems to be channeling her catchiness to a song about self-empowerment, survival, and flourishing post heatbreak. And she isn’t saying her ex-boyfriend is “PMS(ing) like a bitch” or that he should hang himself with his H&M scarf. Praise be to Odin!
What also draws me to this song is that it really does seem to come from a personal space. It’s not trying to be cherry chapstick shiny, rather the song is her dancing and singing out some pain with a really nice beat. It also doesn’t seem as strangely retooled and forced into a gay-nthem-hood (gay anthem) as her smash hit “Firework.” Though I do think that song can be a source of pride for some, to me it was kind of dull and only was released as a single for the quick pink dollar, as it was attached to anything that had to do with firework shows or anti-bullying. Fireworks fizzle out Katy, I want a well-kept fire as my source of strength.
Back to positivity, and my enjoyment of her latest track, and my hopes that it is the harbinger of better tunes. It is safe to believe its inspiration was her split from Russell Brand, though the reference to diamond ring might make that a little obvious. Though I never wish tragedy upon anyone, with a serious tone, I think divorce from a loveably scuzzy Brit might actually inspire a whole host of good work. She has even been in talks with her good friend and my current favorite pop star, Princess Ri, about a track collaboration. Ri has done her best work processing personal struggle into danceable jams, perhaps Perry can pick up on that.
I see her next album, whenever it may come, as a potential space for rejuvenation rather than cotton candy-scented and cloying. Maybe the focus on herself will divert her from trying too hard to reach out to gay audiences and putting her stiletto in her mouth. Maybe with a reflective album we will see something less “it’s a joke, don’t you get it?” and more genuine and likeable.