Monday, September 13, 2010

In my opinion, there are two types of catchy tunes in the world: The one with pop hooks so well-crafted you’ll want them replaying in your head until the end of time ( case in point “Umbrella,” “Just Dance”), and then there’s the obvious, derivative kind of catchy that causes you to itch which Katy Perry falls into.

Take for instance one of the summer’s biggest singles, “California Gurls.” The track is little more than a direct rip of BFF Kesha‘s superior drunk-pop anthem, “Tik Tok,” yet it’s managed to thrive nonetheless.

Perry’s shtick is obnoxious and, at times, hypocritical. Bolstered by a devoutly religious upbringing (and short-lived run as a Christian rock artist), she has the gall to criticize her fellow pop stars for being blasphemous sluts while simultaneously shooting whipped cream out of her tits and posing topless for Rolling Stone and Esquire.

But Katy Perry delivers good pop,and that is what her fans want the most

Teenage Dream is Katy Perry’s follow-up to her massively successful 2008 debut, One of The Boys. The album, like the one before, is a veritable “who’s who” of the top pop producers in the game, including Max Martin, Tricky Stewart, Greg Wells, Benny Blanco, Dr. Luke, and Stargate.

The album begins with its title track, which also happens best song. “Teenage Dream” is not only a masterfully crafted pop tune with a smart hook, but a rare moment of tenderness for the otherwise bratty bombshell: As the lyrics goes “You think I’m pretty without any makeup on / You think I’m funny when I tell the punchline wrong,” Perry whispers on top of the song’s setting sun guitar strums.

“Last Friday (T.G.I.F.),” in contrast, feels entirely inauthentic, very much a replica of everything you might have heard from Kesha's tune, Animal. Say what you will about Kesha’s aesthetic , but any and all talk of drunken hook-ups and glitter on the floor are strictly within her domain at the moment. Any other attempt to emulate her drunk-pop revelry? Well, it just comes off sounding cheap.

The slap-happy silliness is pervasive throughout Perry’s record, including the stomping ode to the penis, “Peacock.” Scribed by one of the naughtiest names in popular songwriting at the moment, Ester Dean (“Rude Boy”; “Drop It Low”), “Peacock” is a most infectious, cheer-tastic celebration of the male member hidden behind the thinnest of veils: “Are you brave enough to let me see your peacock?

“Circle the Drain” is the result of such desire, one of the album’s most impressive numbers. The song contains the best, most biting lines of the entire record: “Wanna be your lover, not your fucking mother,” Perry explodes with a vitriolic, shaking-with-anger kind of enunciation while exorcising her ex-flame’s demons.

“E.T.” and “Who Am I Living For?” follow along a similarly angst-ridden path. Still, Perry’s self-searching offerings are a bit too modern/major production (excessive instrumentation; squeaky-clean studio sounds) to be dubbed worthy of an Alanis Morrissette comparison.

At best, Teenage Dream is a top heavy collection of party pop anthems and occasionally good, often schmaltzy slow numbers. Aside from the occasional moment of sugary sweet brilliance however (“Teenage Dream”; “Firework”), the party balloons deflate rather quickly, resulting in a record that feels about as fluffy as the pink cotton candy swirled around Perry’s naughty bits on the cover.

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