Teenage Dream, by Katy Perry
Suggested by Ashley Rogers (Guilty Pleasure)
I strongly suspect that Teenage Dream will not score highly with me.
Before we begin, let’s take a moment to discuss Katy Perry. Her Wiki page lists her professions as Singer, Songwriter, and Television Judge. I’ve no beef with the first two, but the third? For me, a Television Judge is a Judy or a Rinder. Or, I guess, the woman that lived above Greg Evigan and Paul Reiser in the sitcom My Two Dads. It’s not someone who judges musical acts on X Factor or similar. But hey, times change, so maybe I’m wrong.
Katy Perry is one of those acts whose life is arguably more scrutinised than their music. Madonna’s another, as is Lady Gaga, and Britney Spears, and maybe Rhianna. On the Y Chromosome side, we’re talking Michael Jackson as the strongest example, even before the horrors. Katy’s life has been colourful thus far, certainly, with her high-profile marriage and divorce to the embodiment of hepatitis Russell Brand, and her subsequent engagement to the bafflingly androgenous Orlando Bloom serving as mere blips on her life’s radar screen.
In fact, her second album, or third if you count her debut release of Christian songs under her real name Katy Hudson, trades on her perceived celebrity and supposed aspirational party lifestyle somewhat, as her Katy Perry debut One of the Boys did before it. There, it was faux-naughty and sexually charged songs like I Kissed A Girl serving to bring her to the forefront with a bang. On Teenage Dream, which is more disco-infused than pop-rock, it’s more a general theme that permeates the first half of the album, with songs like the titular Teenage Dream, Last Friday Night (TGIF), and California Gurls concentrating wholly on young love (“Let’s go all the way tonight / No regrets, just love”), the excesses of teenage partying (“I smell like a minibar / DJ’s passed out in the yard”), and the genetic superiority of women from California (“Lookie here, baby, I’m all up on ya / ‘Cause you representin’ California” … well done, cameo Snoop Dog.)
Musically, it’s decent enough pop-disco fare, with synths and drums and yadda yadda yadda. Perry’s voice is alright, I suppose, likely best exemplified on the excellent Firework, which is a punchy anthemic stormer with a Girl Power vibe. My favourite track is Peacock, a chanted wailer replete with suggestive lyrics. “I wanna see your peacock-cock-cock, your peacock-cock,” straight out of the Jackie Q Get Him To The Greek school of comedy lyricism. Ebenezer Goode, is that you?
The latter half of the album is slightly less party-every-day, seeing Perry in a more reflective mood. It’s fine, just like the first half. If anything, it’s a little more considered and a little less calculated, and thus I warm to it more. But despite the album ending strongly, I still feel underwhelmed. It’s not special enough to elevate it above the countless others plying the same schtick, and it’s pitched squarely at a demographic I never inhabited, nor ever will. My 4/10 score may seem churlish for such an innocuous album, but it offers me nothing I need or desire.