Opinion: Katy Perry – Pop’s Biggest And Most Shameless Poseur?
Seriously, is anyone really buying the image Katy Perry is (currently) selling? For those of you who don’t know, Perry started her career as a Christian singer recording under her given name, Katy Hudson. Since she’s gone pop, it has been more than apparent that she’s wanted to distance herself from that past. Her first, truly major hit was an unconvincing dose of faux lesbianism, “I Kissed A Girl,” which also some would argue slightly ripped off Jill Sobule’s far superior hit song by the same name. Now on the cover of her new album, “Teenage Dream,” she’s lying naked on a bed of cotton candy clouds. I’m not some prude criticizing her because she has a highly sexualized image. (Normally, I’d be fine with that if it was the image she wanted to sincerely convey.) But, considering the source, one has to question her motives. Think about it. An over-sexed pop vamp sells a hell of a lot more records than a virginal Christian singer. And you have to take a major leap of faith to believe that she actually, sincerely decided to change her whole thematic outlook on life. To a thinking person, this does not seem genuine.
It all seems like a shallow cash-in. It seems like a show. It all seems like suddenly she’s decided she’ll do anything shocking for a buck. For the most part, it seems to be working, too. Sadly, she’s pretty much got the world suckered in! She’s considered one of the hottest celebrities around with most of what used to be the respected entertainment media willing to give her a good spin. In my opinion, she’s a C-level pop star with truly transparent motives. She’s not a gifted singer and she’d be nowhere without her producers and co-writers.
Many have dubbed her single, “California Gurls” as the single of the summer. Come on! Really!?? If that’s the case, than the industry truly has lost all its imagination. A campy blue wig, a pouty mermaid’s pose, a low-end house-groove and a Snoop Dogg cameo does not a strong single make! Especially when this song in question seems like it was created in a boardroom off of other people’s borrowed ideas. It has been written that it was meant as a west-coast response to Jay-Z’s “Empire State Of Mind.” Combine that with the use of the title of an old Beach Boys song, changing the letter “i” to a “u”, a la Big Star, as to not raise any suspicion! Again, since this song has been made a hit, a lot has been written about the whole Beach Boys connection. For a moment a few weeks ago, it looked like there might have been a possible lawsuit. Anyone who has ever listened to both songs knows, though, that such an action wouldn’t have gone very far, considering the tracks are extremely different from each other. I’ve seen no evidence of this, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it eventually came out that the dialogue over a potential legal scuffle was planted into the press cycle merely to up the interest in Perry’s record. It’s a cynical way of looking at the situation, but one has to wonder, especially since both Perry and the Beach Boys are Capitol records artists. If you doubt such moves happen behind closed doors, you are probably being naïve. When you are selling image over artistic quality, you’ll do just about anything to raise the stakes.
There is the off-chance that I’m wrong about Perry and that her previous image was the pose she put on to please her religious, pastor parents and now that she’s an adult, this is the real Perry emerging. But I doubt it. If this were the real Katy Perry, would she really seem so empty, shallow and synthetic? In any case, when I see and hear her, something simply does not add up. I have to figure that at some point in her career, she has lied to herself and the public. If this is all a rouse now and she goes to number one on the album charts next week, I will weep for an uninformed, easily manipulated nation willing to accept anything that the record companies can throw at them.
This will probably, once again prove my suspicions to be true! Pop success may have nothing to do with talent after all. Just get the sonic-chemists together to create some low-quality, sugary hooks and put an attractive, young naked woman on the album cover. That's all you need to sell a lot of records. How sad! Fans may not care about issues as complex as outside context. Why ask if you've been taken when the end product leaves you hypnotized and dancing? Such thoughts would require the use of too much extra energy.