Katy Perry, “Part of Me”
Teenage Dream: The Complete Confection, 2012
You can’t say I don’t review an eclectic selection people. New single from Katy Perry is the first single off her album (released March 20). Part of Me (debuted at the 2012 Grammy’s) is in the same vein as Firework and California Gurls: an anthem of bouncy, dance- pop. The same sounds are used, the same tempo- it’s all the same stuff churned out by her song doctors. And there’s actually nothing wrong with this happening, except it has to be good, and unfortunately, Part of Me doesn’t quite hit the mark. Or any mark, to be honest.
The opening is instantly familiar, because the same muted drum sound that starts thumping away is exactly the same as the one featured in California Gurls. The guitar is also quite familiar, and then you realise that the same bright sound has been lifted straight out of Teenage Dream. The guitar even retains the slight lagging behind the beat that it does in Teenage Dream, heavy on the upstrokes. The one difference between the openings of these songs and Part of Me is the vocals- which in the latter, are completely flat.
I know Katy, I know. This song is your sad breakup song, and you’re supposed to sound depressed. But this weird thudding along to the beat thing doesn’t work, you end up exhibiting about as much life as a rice cracker.
Things get better when the bass enters, and Perry’s vocals get into the higher notes and start to sound a bit lively. The chorus hits with a bunch of synths and back up singers, and coupled with the thumping backing, it’s punchy, catchy and infectious. Like any good Katy Perry song. It’s so familiar and formulaic, we’ve heard this song a hundred times, but something is just wrong here. It never lifts off the ground, even with the heavy backing and strong pulse. And it’s to do with her vocals, which are uninteresting and totally forgettable. There’s usually a certain brightness to her sound that’s appealing (even if it is all auto-tune), but here they fall flat, sounding constricted and pinched.
Regardless of this, it’s bound to be a big hit, partly due to the fact that it’s been released in the wake of her break up with Russell Brand. Never mind that Perry doesn’t actually write her songs, but the strongly themed lyrics (independence, screw you bastard etc etc) will resonate with fans:
“But you’re not gonna break my soul/ This is the part of me/ That you’re never gonna ever take away from me, no”
It will please her die-hard fans, but won’t convince the unbelievers.