Thursday, September 9, 2010

And Now For Something Completely Different

Where I suffer for your entertainment. A coworker, with whom I occassionally engage in debate regarding the output of various pop-music starlets (a favorite is the "Rihanna vs Britney" argument), challenged me to listen to the new Katy Perry album, "Teenage Dream". Here goes, track by track.

1. "Teenage Dream" - the first, and title, track on this album full of lackluster vocal prowess and halfed-assery in the studio. When Katy makes an attempt at singing I can handle this, the song is fine until you get to the :51 second mark, where Katy and her handlers decide she'll just forcefully belt out one- and two-syllable words in between what should be a much better beat. This song doesn't do much for me...until she decides to actually sing again. The "i'mma get your heart racing in my skintight jeans..." umptempo bit is by far the best part of the song, and only appears twice, covering probably 20 seconds of the nearly four minute running time on this one. There's a monster-pop hit in here somewhere, and it's missed. Surprised they let this one get radio-play so quickly while California Gurls was exhibiting staying power.

2. "Last Friday Night" - The autotune vocal effects on this song are complete garbage (they appear during what the CD booklet refers to as the Pre-Chorus)...but once the real chorus starts, again, it's possible to find a catchy track in here. The opposite of the previous song, Katy's singing bits are the awful sections on this one and her more casual speaking sections carry the song. 2/3 of the way through you get a beat buildup and the crowd chant-along, begging for a producer/remixer to invest more time on this track than Dr. Luke and Max Martin appear to have spent. One of them slipped on the banana-peel effect button a few times too many in post-production and just gave up.

3. "California Gurls" - should've been a Snoop song feat Katy Perry instead of the other way 'round. Give the Dogfather another verse or two and drop Katy's wailing.

4. "Firework" - When, exactly, is the Firework expected to go off in this song? Get some real instruments in the studio, build a guitar riff, and drop the hollow synth noises. We get what sounds like a sample of the Coldplay string section instead of the bombast we're expecting based on the buildup. Once the "power" part hits, it lasts for maybe 10 seconds, and lacks the punch you'd get from a superior artist like Kelly Clarkson. Producers! Turn the volume up.

5. "Peacock" - This is a rubbish attempt at a Fergie song, which is ill-advised to begin with. Also, Katy namechecks Mystery, yet gives the cold shoulder to Matador and J-Dogg? Really hate the Venga Boy beat here.

6. "Circle The Drain" - another song shouting out for real musicians to play real instruments in a real studio. Katy echoes Billy Joel's "ack-ack-ack-ack" and sings her own terrible echoing. For a song about abandoning someone due to their drug abuse it sure makes me want to abuse drugs. Hilarious attempted drum solo as the song comes down from it's high.

7. "The One That Got Away" - Honestly, this is the best song on the album, and it begs for someone with real vocal chords to belt it out. Rewrite the first verse, get a killer guitar riff (again, see: Kelly Clarkson), give it to one of the talented kids graduating from American Idol, and you've got an actual hit. In Katy's hands, it's middle-album slow down filler. Hearing her attempt to sing the "whoa-oa-oa-oa"s live without a backing track would be torture.

8. "E.T." - No one should ever cram all of the T's and R's of the word "Extraterrestrial" into a chorus. I suggest replacing it with "Gastrointestinal"

9. "Who Am I Living For?" - Where Katy sings over terrible synths and beats, pretends to be Rihanna in parts, and in other parts just tries to sing words as loud as she can. Zzzzzz. I think this might be a 'message' song. The message is "get this crappy album released quickly while people still remember how great 'Hot N Cold' was!"

10. "Pearl" - I don't think I can do this anymore.

11. "Hummingbird Heartbeat" - Ugh. This one is about the birds and the bees. I'm done here.

12. "Not Like The Movies" - I'm sure it isn't. i didn't bother listening to it.

Never Again, this was a terrible idea. How much did the producers on this album get paid?