Feb. 11th, 2011

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Katy Perry. She can't actually SING. If you like her at all you should probably stop reading because I have very, VERY strong feelings on this one.

I've been thinking about this, since they've covered a couple of her songs on Glee. Whatever they do on Glee, not only do I download the Glee versions, but almost always go get the original song as well. Katy Perry's songs are the notable exception. And here's why.

I've tried to listen to her. I really have. I have a friend who is a fan who spent an IM conversation sending me links. "I Kissed a Girl" is just flat annoying--she's not even carrying a tune, she's just monotone shouting in rhythm. So them she sent me "Thinking of You" and there was something just weird about the way she pronounced things. It felt really unnatural.

Katy Perry, at her very best, sounds like the songwriter making a demo. She may technically be hitting the notes (or, you know, Autotune may be hitting the notes), but she just doesn't sound like she's meant to actually be played on the radio--when she sings a song, it sounds unfinished. Last week, before Glee, I watched the Firework video and all I could think was "Wow, these lyrics are really inspiring, I can't wait to hear it done by a real singer." And honestly, I can take a less-than-perfect singer if I find the lyrics to be beautiful (or the inverse, I'll listen to music with a terrible message if it's sufficiently catchy- or beautiful-sounding), but Katy Perry is SO BAD I can't tolerate her versions. (Let's contrast: I love Flyleaf, and their lead singer has a fairly obvious lisp.)

(And while I'm on that, "Thinking of You" sends a terrible message--"I am totally heading into this new relationship knowing full well that I am deeply emotionally scarred from you and not ready to be in any relationship"--and it would probably be haunting and gorgeous done by...hm. Evanescence leaps to mind, or even Amanda Palmer. But in Katy's unskilled hands, it's rendered trashy.)

If she didn't have those jugs and a willingness to do things like shoot fire and frosting out of them, no one would give a crap about her. And we can prove this, because when she started out, she was a Christian singer, and no one gave a crap about her. It wasn't until she started prancing around half-naked and sung provocative songs that the media was all "OH HAI!"

And I don't even mind musicians using spectacle and sexiness in their image, really, especially if it feels authentically like they're doing it because they want to, not because that's their only way of getting attention. I love Lady Gaga and Ke$ha...but here's the thing. Both of them are actually capable of singing. They both like to layer themselves with effects, but underneath the glitz, there's talent. This is why I was stuck in neutral on Gaga--music was catchy, but nothing I was amazed by--until I heard Paparazzi. Realizing that the effects were for the sake of effects and not to disguise a lack of talent changed everything. (If you don't believe me on Ke$ha, listen to Animal. Or failing that, this little Christmas tune, but ignore the naked butt in the background.)

(A digression: the other thing about Ke$ha is that her whole image, including the dollar sign, is intended to satire the music industry--if you read a decent interview with her you can tell she really doesn't have a lot of patience for people who live and die for the whole fame-is-everything Hollywood dream. This is not even the best example but it'll do.)

Back to Katy Perry: strip away the wacky clothes (not in a literal sense, mind you o_O) and crazy antics, and the producers doing the best the can with what they're given, and all you have is a grating voice. Apparently she does write or cowrite her songs, so if she really feels the need to stay in the industry she ought to do all our ears a favor and write more stuff like Firework, and sell it to people who actually have good voices. ("Firework" as done by Lea Michele was beautiful and goosebump-inducing and full of win.)

And then there's Miley Cyrus, but no one takes her seriously, do they?

February 2012


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