Album review: Katy Perry - Teenage dream

Katy Perry - Teenage dream | Album review
Once I heard "California gurls" I just knew that Katy was going to drop an album that I'd end up checking out on the not-so-down-low. I can't stand the f**king song now, but back when it first touched down; I was all over it like a fly on shit. Now with the album out and having debuted at number 1 (congrats to Katy for that feat!) we can ask the question: Is it any good? The short answer would be "Yeah, it's not bad". But where it begins to get a bit murky (more like down right slurried in doo-doo) is when the subject of longevity arises. Is the album good? "Yeah, I guess so". But will you remember it in a few years time? Probably not.

Teenage dream follows a current and constantly passing trend of throwing back to the 80's, and it does so pretty well. The album opens with the album title song "Teenage dream" which doesn't so much dip it's toe into the 80's as it does attempt to drown itself. A massive catchy hook, 80's power ballad overtones, and some thrashy moments for you to lightly head bang to. A pretty cracking song on the whole.

"Last Friday night (T.G.I.F)" is so 80's you can smell the rank whiff of 12 hour worn day glo socks. My favourite song on the album without a doubt. iTunes struggles to keep count of many times I've played this song. The lyrics are Ke$ha-ey with odes to a night fuelled with alcohol, rampaging on the streets and waking up in a room full of glitter; but the music and the production is absolutely on-point, and Katy rides the beat perfectly with the help of some track editing and a few doses of auto-tune. This for me is possibly one of Katy's best songs. I just cannot get enough of it.

"California gurls" was a good song. Notice the past tense: was. The problem with it was always that it sounded way too much like Ke$ha's "Tik tok" to the point where the lyrics and melodies were interchangeable. And on the album it suffers even more by being placed at track 3 in the album tracklist: after "Teenage dream" and "Last Friday night (T.G.I.F)", both of which kick "California gurls" in the teeth. The song was hot, but it feels a little stale now.

"Firework" sticks out on the album because it teeters into Euro dance territory; playing out like a watered down version of Kelly Rowland's "When love takes over". It's anthemic, it features some really nice lyrics and has single written all over it. Once again Stargate surprise the hell out of me with the production, as it sounds completely unlike anything they've done before.

"Peacock" follows a current trend of double entendres about sex and reproductive organs. Although "Peacock" isn't so much an entendre. The word 'Pea' has been added to to the word 'cock' with a chorus chant that consists of ♪ I wanna see your Peacock-cock-cock! You're Peacock-cock! ♪ Hardly imaginative. I think all chances of the song getting played on radio without some editing and generous helpings of silence have been curb stomped. But the song is fun. And Stargate do a great job with the production. You'd never guess it was them behind the "Mickey" inspired beat.

Half way through the album, Katy begins to strip away the vacuous lyrics and give us a little more substance. "Circle the drain" is the albums' first foray in a darker sound, which comes courtesy of Tricky Stewart and has his signature production flair all over it. The song is about Katy's once-upon-a relationship with Gym class heroes front man Travis McCoy. Neither of them are particularly interesting from a media gossip point of view to care all that much about the lyrics. And Katy's message is so straight forward that there's no second guessing anything. But still...it's a good song and vocally Katy sounds great on it. "Hummingbird heartbeat" is a cracking song which taps into the 80's power ballad style sound brilliantly. And by golly Katy actually brings some hot vocals to the table! She soars towards the end of the song and really helps the whole thing come together. This song would make a great single way into this albums' life cycle. And who would have thought that Tricky Stewart was the man behind the production?! The man continues to amaze me with his talents. First "Smash into you", now this. He's about to get an influx of non-R&B / Urban affiliated artists reaching out to him as a result of this song. Believe that. Possibly one of his best productions. Album closer "Not like the movies" strips things down completely, and is the one moment on the album where we get Katy: the girl in love, and not all of the artificial persona's she projects often throughout the record. Katy's vocals aren't the greatest sounding, but there's genuine heart in her voice as she sings this song, which gives it a really sweet charm alongside the minimal piano which plays away alongside her. I could only imagine what Christina Aguilera would have done with this song. Damn...

Despite the candy floss whiff of the jewel case and Katy being enveloped in the stuff on the album cover, Teenage dream does his some sour notes. "The one that got away" is a nice 'rock your head from side to side 'n sing-a-long 'song with sweeping strings and a catchy melody. But the song feels like it's coming up short for the whole three and a half minutes. A stronger vocalist would have done this song wonders. Because whilst Dr. Luke and Max Martin's production managed to keep Katy more than afloat on past songs, it doesn't do so on this occasion. "E.T" is a song that everybody was calling on to be a single, but I can't stand it. It sounds like a tired-recycled Ryan Tedder production meets Queen's "We will rock you", which doesn't do a great deal for me auditorily. "Who am I living for?" has Katy go a little R&B-ish, with Tricky Stewart doing his best Timbaland tax and doing a crap job of it. "Pearl" is 4 minutes of drivel that has Katy wailing like a Seal being clubbed over some beat that sounds like something Lady Gaga passed on.

Teenage dream is a step up from Katy's debut because it features more potential singles, comes off as less of a fluke effort, and has a more definite focus in terms of its sound. But what lets the album down (aside from it grinding to a halt half way through) is that it isn't an album which will stand the test of time or be remembered years from now. For now, it'll provide enough. But gve Dr. Luke, Max Martin, Tricky Stewart and Stargate a couple of months and they'll give some other chick in her 20's a bunch of songs to completely overwrite what they gave Katy and they'll probably sound better and be more memorable.

Teenage dream provides a good play-through and has a couple of gems, but their lustre will wane after a couple of months worth of playing. When all is said and done, this is a pretty forgettable record on the whole.


Album highlights
■ Teenage dream
■ Last Friday night (T.G.I.F) J's fave
■ Peacock
■ Circle the drain
■ Hummingbird heartbeat

3 comments:

  1. Damn, you raved about most of the songs and then...5/10. Lol!

    I guess because it's forgettable.

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  2. What it boiled down to for me was that despite the album not being crap, I actually only play and wholeheartedly love one song off of it ("Last Friday night (T.G.I.F)". Everything else is forgettable. Even "Last Friday night (T.G.I.F)" is pretty forgettable, because it's just a stripped variation of what Ke$ha's done; wrapped up in a slicker, less loud package.

    I was going to score the album higher. But just like gum, the album doesn't have any real lasting flavour. And you realize that on repeated play-throughs. I found myself liking the album less and less the more I listened to it.

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  3. she is such a great artist. Everybody is excited for his concerts

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