While most people like to believe the world is a beautiful, redeemable place and that, all in all, things are going to be alright. In truth, the world is a brutal morass that we sink ever deeper into until we receive the sweet release of death. War. Famine. Robin Thicke's "Blurred Lines." This is reality, chumps. For 12 weeks, 12 god damn weeks, that song was at the top of the charts. That's three months! This is not why we can't have nice things, it is why we don't have nice things. However, for the first time in far too long, there is something to cling to for us, for humanity. There is a new song atop the Billboard Hot 100, and that song is Katy Perry's "Roar."
I will tell you this straight up, for starters, I had not heard a Perry song before listening to "Roar." That's right, I managed to avoid this seemingly ubiquitous artist. I mean, I heard the chorus of "Firework" a couple times, but that's it. Isn't there a song where she talks about balling an alien? I haven't heard that one, but I know it is a thing, to some degree. However, from afar, Perry seems like a pop music mercenary, and I don't mean that in a negative way. She knows what she is, she knows where she stands in the musical landscape. She's a business woman, and her business is singing catchy pop songs lots of people like. Also, I read a review of that documentary about her, and she seems like a kind of interesting woman, which is more than I can say about Lady Gaga, who tries very hard to be very interesting.
If I were to some up "Roar" in as succinct, and dismissive, a way as possible, it would be as such "Girl power!" To be fair, that is the pretty clear message, with some strange shout outs to Muhammad Ali thrown in. Perry sings about being tough and upstoppable and nobody will stand in her way. It's supposed to be empowering and such. However, it does it in a fairly banal way, with some basic platitudes and the sort of stuff you would expect in a girl power pop song. Also, both tigers and lions are mentioned. She has the eye of the tiger, this is a pretty boxing imagery rich song, but you will hear her roar louder than a lion. I don't know what is so positive about "roaring." I guess it is some "I am woman hear me roar" stuff. Whatevs.
The lyrics don't necessarily bother me, to be fair. They don't do much of anything for me. They are, at best, a net zero, and probably tilt a bit toward tedium. Perry's voice is pretty alright, and she can carry the energy and the "power" of the song. It is a fairly one note performance, which is probably a bad idiom to use when discussing music, but she handles what she is asked to do well. The instrumentation of this song got some heat for ripping off a song by songstress Sara Bareilles, whose name I didn't bother looking up how to spell. This is a bullet train, sugar pants, and we don't make any stops! Oddly, while I am not sure I have heard the song in question by Ms. Bareilles, I still felt like I had heard the intro to "Roar" before. Maybe it is just a familiar tune. It certainly had a somewhat generic sound to it, but, again, the energy was fine, and nothing about it bothered me.
I can't get too enthused, or enthused at all, about Perry's "Roar." It is a mediocre song. However, after the tyranny of "Blurred Lines" it is a breath of fresh air. Or stale air. It's not mustard gas, at least, is what I am trying to say. If I heard "Roar" again, I wouldn't be bothered by it. It is the kind of song you imagine hearing in a pharmacy or whatever. That is what it is made for. That, and selling a ton of singles, evidently. Mission accomplished there.