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Shallow, robotized and lobotomized
on October 3, 2010
Although Katy Perry's debut album "One of the boys" didn't reinvent the wheel, you had to be pretty jaded not to enjoy its infectious pop songs. The album had its ups and downs, but overall it presented Perry with a strong musical personality and killer hooks to match. Unfortunately, "Teenage Dream" doesn't live up to the bar set by its predecessor. In fact, it's almost impossible to listen to it all the way through without needing a break.
The horrible cover should have been a warning: Perry is now merely content to present herself as yet another sexpot female entertainer. The key word here is generic, from overrated producers to melodies that you feel you've heard before. Her vocals on this album rely so heavily on Auto-tune and audio compression, that you will find yourself wondering who the hell is this robot chick whose CD you just bought; this gets especially irritating on "Firework", where she tries to belt out big notes but comes off as a headache-inducing nuisance. Worst of all, the lyrics are terrible - shallow and loaded with inane sexual innuendos that were already worn out by the time Samantha Fox lost her audience in the late 80s; "Peacock" sounds like something that a rather immature nine year old could have written, while "Last Friday Night" sports lyrics so superficial that the song could have been on Paris Hilton's album. She may feel like she is pushing the envelope here, but she's really just serving the same tired old sexual clichés that have been around forever. And it's not just the lyrics: the second half of the album features a string of bland, unmemorable midtempo tracks that could have been performed by, well... just about anybody. And that is the main problem with "Teenage Dream": by trying to come up with something sellable (guest rappers, auto-tune, producers used by about 50% of the recording industry), Perry has wiped out whatever personality she had and has become one of an endless string of pop tarts.
To be fair, not every single song is bad on this album. Predictable lyrics asides, the title track certainly is one of her best tracks, "Last Friday night" is dumb as a box of nails but catchy nonetheless, "The one that got away" is a pleasant enough potential single and "Circle the drain" demonstrates that when she is willing to present something a little bit more personal, she can be something more than a poor man's Britney Spears. Unfortunately, those moments are too few on the album. It will probably still be a big seller, however, but as we all know that is not enought to qualify as great music. And she will definitely have to come up with something more interesting the next time around - if she wants her success to last, that is...