Katy Perry, the newest American pop star, is something of a cross between Avril Lavigne and Kelly Clarkson. Or perhaps it would be better to call her the unwanted step-sister of these pop darlings – Perry, for all her confident strutting, can’t sing like they can and, once listeners get past the sexual pandering of songs like “I Kissed A Girl,” Perry’s attitude starts to feel forced. Especially since One Of The Boys spends over 43 minutes reaffirming this cutesy bad-girl image.
Perry is obsessed with sexual identity. If you haven’t managed to hear it yet, “I Kissed A Girl” is a song, as its title suggests, about Perry kissing another girl. I won’t, however, hop on the critical bandwagon and call it a misogynistic, homophobic anthem. It seems that those critics have forgotten that Perry isn’t the first to capitalize on this pseudo-lesbian theme – the 1999 film Cruel Intentions is remembered mostly for its girl-on-girl make-out scene, and even Britney Spears locked lips with Madonna in 2006. Which is to say that Perry’s not to blame for the easily sellable quality of female homoeroticism or for using it.
The album’s first single, “Ur So Gay,” flips the gender roles around, as Perry describes a boyfriend who acts gay but “doesn’t even like guys.” It’s actually a hilarious double standard – Perry can kiss a girl “just to try it,” but her boyfriend is some kind of idiot for wearing make-up and designer clothes. He can’t, in effect, pretend to be gay. Lyrics don’t get much stupider. The actual song, though, is a sort-of-catchy bouncy number that has been lost in the overwhelming shadow of “I Kissed A Girl” and “Hot N Cold.”
Besides the hit singles, One Of The Boys is mostly unremarkable. The remaining eight tracks are watered-down versions of “Hot N Cold” – guitar pop rock with a few memorable choruses. Without much to help it along besides the singles, One Of The Boys has sold over a million copies. The singles, then, must be good. And they are; “Hot N Cold” might be the best female pop rock track since Clarkson’s “Since U Been Gone,” while “I Kissed A Girl” could be the sexiest hit on the radio in years.
I don’t have much experience listening to entire pop albums – I’ve never heard a Britney Spears, Jessica Simpson or Christina Aguilera CD all the way through. In this case though, I decided to give Katy Perry a listen, just to try it. As hard as it may be for me to admit, I heard a girl and I liked it.
Give these tracks a listen: “Hot N Cold,” “Waking Up in Vegas“
Sounds like: Avril Lavigne, Kelly Clarkson
– Zack Frederick