Music Review: Katy Perry release not a ‘Teenage Dream’ worth remembering

By Jim Hagerty
Staff Writer

Jumping ship from a Christian label to the mainstream pop world is a feat worth mentioning. Amy Grant accomplished it in the ’80s, paving the way for contemporary artists who once could only rock for Jesus.

When Katy Perry, then known by her birth name, Katy Hudson, debuted with an eponymous Christian release in 2001, the record seemed to solidify the 15-year-old’s place as a Christian pop star. Some even predicted the teen to surpass Grant’s success before her 21st birthday.

Perry co-wrote the debut, yet much of her qualities remained boxed in the Christian genre—until 2007, when little Katy Hudson invented the Perry persona. As soon as the Internet single “Ur So Gay” went viral, it was clear Perry was far from an innocent Christian drawn toward a predestined, evangelical calling. The rush of the chart-topping “I Kissed a Girl” and the catchy driver, “Hot n Cold,” pegged One of the Boys a disc worth spinning over and over. Katy Perry was suddenly a new voice in pop music.

As expected, Katy Perry is back. Before go-ahead singles “California Gurls” and the Teenage Dream title track were released earlier this summer, fans expected the same rock-spark pop swagger from One of the Boys. Musically, she delivered in spots. Truthfully, however, it’s the project’s pink elephant that simply can’t be ignored or shooed out of its living room.

While Teenage Dream debuted at No. 1 upon its Aug. 24 drop, it was clear Perry hit a grand slam, and that it lives up to her intentions of being the industry’s sexual tease. It’s equally obvious the pink elephant—a brash and literal bad-girl overtone—was invited from the start. Snoop Dogg’s appearance has its marketing appeal, but adds to a confusing string of risque messages. Although hooks are snappy and recognizable, their lyrics come with a nails-against-a-chalkboard clash that simply doesn’t work, most notably for a record marketed to the adolescent masses and those who expected more from a pop star with the ability to create lasting art.

From the Sept. 22-28, 2010 issue

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