US No. 2 This Week: Katy Perry – Firework

Ah, we had to scrape the bottom of the barrel sometime, but I was hoping it wouldn’t be so soon…

(sidebar: I think I’m going to stick to using Vimeo where possible, it’s much simpler than YouTube)

Now I should state for the record that I don’t really hate Katy Perry. Hot and Cold? Catchy, enjoyable song. Um…Teenage Dream isn’t so bad either? Well it’s still not her I hate. But I HATE the living SHIT out of this song.

It’s Christina Aguilera’s ‘Beautiful’ for a new generation of 14 year old fat girls who believe they’re going to marry Edward Cullen because he’ll see past their flaws when no one else will. The start of the song is innocuous enough until she references the only bad scene from American Beauty, which is actually the very first line, so it doesn’t stay innocuous for long. In then devolves into an array of analogies along the lines of, “Have you ever felt shitty?”

Presuming the depression of all listeners, Perry then reveals her true form as Queen of the Banshees. Her screech pierces the eardrums of all those who hear, instilling utter terror and shattering windows within a 10 kilometre radius. After some more vague platitudes she commands that ALL MUST BE FIREWORKS.

I’m pretty fine with the song up until the point where she starts yelling at me. Katy Perry has an okay voice, but not one well suited to this song. It sounds like it was written for the aforementioned Grand High Priestess of Shout-singing, Christina Aguilera. It’s hardly surprising that at the MTV her vocal performance was laughable.

Perry has said that it was inspired by Jack Kerouac’s seminal novel ‘On the Road’ which, frankly, I need say nothing about because that is not a sentence that should exist. She has also had this to say about it:

“People are coming back and almost adopting it as their own anthem, and it’s hard, I think, to write an anthem that’s not cheesy, and I hope that this could be something in that category. I hope this could be one of those things where it’s like, ‘Yeah, I want to put my fist up and feel proud and feel strong. But I also don’t want to be cheesy, it’s a fine line, and I think ‘Firework’ … would be like the opus or my one song — if I had to pick a song to play — ’cause it has a great beat. But it also has a fantastic message.”

Now, it’s lovely that she’s proud of the song but…has she listened to it? This is a pure bloody cornball. Given that the production team Stargate wrote Beyoncé’s ‘Irreplaceable’, and co-writing credits for ‘Firework’ also go to the likes of Ester Dean (who has co-written songs such as Rihanna’s ‘Rudeboy’ and The Pussycat Dolls’ ‘Jai Ho!’), I’d expect a little more. But the song just comes off feeling so painfully constructed.

The beat is nice enough for a club song. I refuse to dance to it in clubs though, out of principle, but the sentiment probably goes down a treat with drunk people, because the song does reek of just having a good time, albeit in a very cheesy, angelic sort of way.

Maybe I’m overanalysing it a little bit here though. It’s mainly just that atrocious chorus. I can zone a lot of things out in a song but that’s like an airhorn straight in your face. Sadly, however, this is the shit pop songs are made of. Regardless of how offensive I find parts of the song, it’s well-crafted enough – it has, to my utmost chagrin, been stuck in my head on a few occasions for longer than I’d like before I was able to phase it out with some Wild Beasts or someone similarly brilliant.

A club hit; a pop hit; on paper they’ve really done everything right. Because my bias is more than evident, I’m going to assign three grades here:

Personal rating: 1/10

As a pop song? 6/10

As a club song? 6.5/10

(Teenage Dream is a better song!)


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