artist: Katy Perry
OK, let’s get the obvious wordplay over with. Katy has “roared” back onto the charts at #2 for this calendar week. She appears to have retained her unstoppable hit-making prowess for another few frames.
“Roar” is a tacit nod to the “I am woman, hear me roar” feminist battle-cry. Katy teams up with power pop heavy hitters Max Martin and Dr. Luke again, and to good effect. This record, like all pop classics, sounds inevitable as it progresses through verse, refrain, and the simple, crescendo-driven chorus. It’s familiar without being derivative, catchy without being annoying. It’s so innocuous, in fact, that you can’t even accuse it of being innocuous with a nasty, isn’t-that-just-so-innocuous attitude. It’s an airtight hit if ever there was one.
Having said that, I have two points of criticism. First, if you’re going to name a song “Roar,” why wouldn’t you throw caution to the wind and roar the song? I can hear P!nk pummelling this song to shreds with her tough-girl schtick, and I can equally hear Beyonce personifying the lioness, shaking her mane, and shaking the rafters with her interpretation.
Which leads me to my second criticism: I miss the edgy, irreverent Katy who got our attention with the internet hit “Ur So Gay.” I’m quite sure Katy never swore on a holy book that she would always be interesting and unique, but I do feel like we’ve collectively been the victims of a bait-and-switch, which reached its apex with the ridiculously commercial (I would even venture to call it pandering) “California Girls,” the lead single off of her last major release, Teenage Dream. “Roar” is a much better and more interesting record, at least, than that single.