There’s nothing much new or interesting in the charts at the moment, so I’m briefly breaking my promise to focus on male artists for a while to address the issue of Katy Perry, for the third time. Yes, she’s such a repeat offender, she’s getting her own damn category. A KATYgory, if you will!! Haha, we have fun here.
Look, I get her shtick. I think. Wait, no, I don’t, because it oscillates so wildly between all sorts of batshit extremes that it’s impossible to pin it down. The thing with pop stars is that they need a shtick: Lady Gaga and her wacky fashion and bizarre music videos, Britney Spears with her mild sluttiness, Ke$ha with her all-out sluttiness, Rihanna with her Caribbean sluttiness, Beyoncé with her strong independent black woman thing, Adele with her fat girl who got rejected thing. Katy Perry? Well, one minute, she’s the playful bubblegum pop lady in California Girls, the next, she’s the alien hooker in E.T. Is she silly and self-effacing or serious and a bit whacked out? Then you’ve got Firework which, well, the less said about it the better. So in which direction does Last Friday Night try and pull her?
Right. So apparently this is Katy Perry being “funny”, I think? In the over-arching narrative of her singles, it’s strange to try and reconcile Firework’s sentiment with that of Last Friday Night, a catchy little affair that bops along on basically the same guitar strum repeated ad infinitum. To its credit, it does have a Kenny G sax solo, but it’s only there for novelty. If there were a real reason for it, I’d appreciate it a lot more. It’s catchy, yes, but the lyrics sound like they were pulled from a Yahoo! chatroom circa 2006. It’s almost like…she wanted to make a sound that sounded painfully dated? I don’t really ‘get it’, particularly the video which is painfully unfunny in the most broad possible way. On the plus side? Uh, the dude (Richie Nuzzolese) in the video is hot. Yeah.
Like, is it possible not to cringe when you hear this sung by a presumably mature young woman?
Think I need a ginger ale
That was such an epic fail
Really. REALLY?! The thing is, the song and the video drift in and out of thematic connectedness that I can’t tell what’s intentionally idiotic and what isn’t. Here’s some more examples of its groan-worthy lines:
Yeah, we maxed our credit cards
And got kicked out of the bars
So we hit the boulevard
Last Friday night
We went streaking in the park
Skinny dipping in the dark
Then had a menage a trois
Perry’s ‘character’ is the stereotypical nerdy girl with headgear who can barely talk and she just wants this party to shut up! Then Rebecca Black – 14 year old, Rebecca Black – ropes her into the party and all of a sudden she’s dressed like it’s the 80s for some reason? And you know it isn’t ACTUALLY the 80s because of the blatant product placement for some Wii dancing game, and also the presence of Hanson as adults and not toddlers/jizz as they would have been were it, in fact, the 1980s. It’s a bit alarming that this lady-nerd seems to have lived so much despite being so annoying by Rebecca Black’s party!!!
Most distressing is the idea that the video was inspired by John Hughes, according to its director. It continues on in a long run of Perry being “inspired” by things and destroying them – Jack Kerouac with Firework, Lady Gaga-esque music videos with E.T., and now poor, defenceless John Hughes. Oh, and then there’s the meandering, totally witless appearance by Debbie Gibson and Corey Feldman as Perry’s parents. Ugh. The entire thing smacks of trying way too hard.
Yet I still wonder if that’s what she wanted! I don’t think it was. I think it was meant to be “fun” and “humorous” but, though it is some of the former, it is none of the latter. The best you get is a brief, “Ahhh!” when you see Rebecca Black. I wish Perry would just choose a niche and stick to it. That said, commercially? This shit is working for her. Maybe it’s a credit to her that she’s been consistently in the charts for more than a year BECAUSE, and not despite, her vast range of shitty songs. The very worst part of the song is certainly the “damn!” that directly precedes the chorus, which ends up embodying the entire affair: limp, lifeless and uncomfortable.
This is about the fifth single Perry’s released from whatever her last album was called – honestly, who among us remembers off the top of their head? – so hopefully, we’re at the end of the line for this one. But she’ll be back in a year or so, with another batch of vapid earworms to burrow into our skulls and feast on the sweet, tangy brainjuice inside.