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A bit of a let-down to be honest...
on 3 May 2012
I personally find Katy Perry's "I will never grow up" attitude irritating and think that her vocals, while powerful, lack control; however I still thoroughly enjoyed the Teenage Dream album and gave that a solid four stars.
But as much as I like the album, there are a few weaker so-so tracks on it, so I was looking forward to TEENAGE DREAM: THE COMPLETE CONFECTION, as I expected the weak points in the album to be bolstered by the new tracks.
What prompted me to write a review for the re-release is that fact that out of the seven 'new' tracks, three have already been available to buy as MP3s for months now, AND they are just alternate versions of original album tracks. Considering that this release isn't just a case of the record label slapping a 'special edition' sticker on the album, instead getting new singles and a costly promotional tour, I was very disappointed with the wasted space filled up with multiple remixes of existing tracks that fans could have gone out and bought beforehand anyway.
And then there's the 'new' tracks; only one [Wide Awake] is possibly a new track - the other two [Part Of Me and Dressin' Up] were left of the original Teenage Dream as they weren't deemed good enough. I'm not sure if Wide Awake is actually new, so we're possibly only getting a megamix 'fresh' and leftovers for our money. So, considering that she wanted a new edition of Teenage Dream as she "had fresh things she needed to say", she has just added three tracks that were already downloadable singles, two or three songs that were actually recorded over two years ago and one cheesy megamix. So TEENAGE DREAM: THE COMPLETE CONFECTION isn't about sharing new experiences or feelings via song, it's purely an excuse to milk more money out of her fans.
At the end of the day, if you already own Teenage Dream then there is no need to go out and buy TEENAGE DREAM: THE COMPLETE CONFECTION. I pre-ordered my copy before the final track list was confirmed and forgot about it, so I'm now kicking myself over the wasted money. Owners of the original album, only really need to spend 79p on the MP3 of Wide Awake, as that's the only substantial new track to be found on the new edition of the album. Everything else 'new' is padding, which only highlights the original album's weak spots.
If you don't already own Teenage Dream, then yes, TEENAGE DREAM: THE COMPLETE CONFECTION is something to consider buying. But be aware that most of the tracks are more radio-friendly and bubblegum, then the songs on Katy's first albums; Katy Hudson and One Of The Boys.
The title track is about Katy discovering that boys can be more then just friends and the dizzying rush of your first love. The lyrics tell a story, as opposed to being empty and emotionless noise. As the lyrics are telling a story I didn't find them instantly memorable, so this song took a little while to grow on me, but now this is one of my favourite song's on the album. She sticks to the guitar lead, pop/rock music from her 'One Of The Boys' era.
Apparently Katy and the other writers had to write at least two or three versions of the song, to get the 'forever young' vibe without being too cheesy or it being too uncomfortably 'Lolita' sexy.
Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.)
Katy s referred to this being a almost 'Waking Up in Vegas 2' song. She is recalling one of her booze and fun-filled Friday nights, which features a menage a trois - but unfortunately for her male fans [and a portion of female fans] Katy says that's the only bit of the song that isn't based on real events.
When I sit here trying to break the song down to review it I can't find anything valid to say about it; the lyrics are upbeat, easy to remember, but are rather shallow. You could instantly see that this would be a single though, as the combination of the catchy lyrics and 'pop pretending to be serious' music is very radio friendly.
California Gurls (feat. Snoop Dogg)
This is pure, electro-tinged pop, that Katy has called a response to Jay Z's and Alicia Key's single 'Empire State Of Mind'. Katy's LA version is basically about how wonderful and hot the girls are in California. The singles success was more to do to it having simple lyrics that get stuck in your head, rather then with the song having any message in it, so it reminds me of Last Friday Night in it's shallowness.
Still; it does get stuck in my head, so point Team Perry. This is the type of music I'm thinking of when I use the label 'guilty pleasure'; fun, catchy, but there is nothing substantial to be found in it.
Katy admitted that she was inspired by On The Road by Jack Kerouac [shown to her by Russell Brand, who told her that what she was for him]: 'I want to be around people that are buzzing and fizzing and never say a commonplace thing and shoot across the sky and make everybody go ah'. It's a song that she wants other people to adopt as a inspiring anthem to encourage their inner strengths.
Katy's vocals are perfectly suited to this song - the strength of her vocals showcases her passion. I think this track would be at home on Katy's 'One Of The Boys' album as the passion and more meaty lyrics stick out from most of the other songs on this album.
I find this similar to 'California Gurls' in that the music is electro-tinged rock/pop and the lyrics are simple and get annoyingly stuck in my head. The whole thing is basically Katy asking to see a guy's "Peacock". I personally just find it cringe worthy, rather then funny like Katy. Her record label didn't want it on the album, but Katy called them idiots and put her foot down. Sorry, but I agree with them - she did this live on her world tour and that didn't change my mind.
Oh; The spoken verse is amazingly embarrassing "Oh my God no exaggeration, boy all this time was worth the waiting, I just shed a tear, I am so unprepared, You've got the finest architecture, End of the rainbow lookin' treasure, such a sight to see, And it's all for me". I tried to imagine myself saying the lines, but I don't think I could - even if someone was holding a gun to my head...
Circle The Drain
This track tells us the story of how Katy's ex-fiance's drug addition eroded their relationship, to the point where she had to leave as she couldn't bear to stick around and watch him self-destruct and "circle the drain". Travie McCoy had this to say for the
song; "I heard she put out a song that's about me, or about some old habits or whatever. I look at it like this: I'm just stoked that she finally has a song with some substance on her record. Good job."
The rockier music really suits her somewhat shouty vocals and is a bit different to the other tracks, so I loved it at first. However the line of the bridge where she informs us that Travis "Fell asleep during foreplay" is a low blow and bitchy. Humiliating someone in public is just not a nice thing to do.
The One That Got Away
We once again return to classic Katy Perry with pop/rock music [this time it's drum lead, rather then guitar lead for a change] and lyrics that, once again, tell us a story: about when you promise someone forever, but you end up not being able to follow through. Katy says that most of us will be familiar with the meaning of the song, in this Facebook stalking era.
I think the track's style is very similar to 'Teenage Dream' in the way it is telling a story from Katy's past, but it falls slightly short of the mark for me. I'm not sure why, I think that maybe the music doesn't go with it? Either way I skip over this version [see below for more].
The song was originally intended to go to Three 6 Mafia, but Katy fell in love with it instead. Katy said that the song is about 'foreign love' and it's another electro favoured track, that is futuristic and alienistic, like the lyrics.
I think of this as being Peacock: Part II. Funnily enough I've recently read that this was released instead of Peacock as a regular single at the last minute; this song was also a promotional single on Itunes before the album's release, so wasn't considered for a regular release until fans spoke up in it's favour [the regular single version is further down].
Who Am I Living For?
I tend to think of the lyrics are about Katy finding self-confidence and strength in dealing with her increasingly public life, but most fans think it is actually about spirituality and faith.
Another soft-sync production which raise my opinion of the track. The style is a nice fit for her vocals, but the meaning of the lyrics isn't clear for me, so it becomes empty noise for me.
The song is about how a woman who used to be strong has now become stuck. Stuck by what or who? I used to have questions about it, so could never just sit and listen to the song; is it someone Katy knows in her personal life or is it a public figure? Katy has since said it's about herself, so I guess that it's about being stuck in a dead-end relationship.
This track also has a slick soft-synths and lyrics that aren't immediately clear to me, so placing it next to 'Who Am I Living For' is a mistake. It's too samey and, ultimately, forgettable. Another track that I skip over.
I'll just let Katy explain it: "I was at breakfast when I saw this hummingbird, and hummingbird was having breakfast as well...and I don't know if you know but hummingbirds are supposedly good luck and I was just thinking about hummingbirds. I was thinking 'How fast does their heart beat?' , like 'how many beats per minute?' And using that idea as an idea for someone making you feel, instead of those butterflies, making your heart beat really, really fast."
I've not got anything really useful to say about this track; I always found it OK and 80s sounding, so I don't skip it, but it wasn't very memorable until she used it as the opening song in her world tour.
Not Like The Movies
Katy has said that part of this song was inspired by meeting Russell Brand [she started a rough draft before she met him, but finished it after], but the lyrics don't match up with meeting him. It actually sounds like she talking about how she accepted her ex' marriage proposal, even though she had doubts right from the start; After all it didn't feel the way the movies depict it.
I personally think that Katy's strong vocals aren't really suited to slower, ballad type tracks, but the strong lyrical content, paired with the pared down piano driven music make this a standout track. It was the first promotional single for the album.
The One That Got Away (Acoustic)
The song is the same as the single version, but Katy rerecorded it in a studio and she also played the acoustic guitar for it. I find the original version a 'skipper', but the music on this version really suits the song, so I started to pay more attention to the substantial lyrics, so the song has really grown on me now.
Part Of Me
I'll be honest; when I heard this was going to be the first single from the updated album I was disappointed. It's a so-so song; not bad, but is a generic break-up anthem. Maybe I'm being cynical, but this seems to be a "I'm the brave victim, having my heart crushed by the big, bad man" sympathy play for #1...
The song is actually a few years old now and had leaked, but Katy re-recorded it with angrier vocals and replaced the original line in the central breakdown [you can keep the dog from me, I never really liked it anyway] with "You can keep the diamond ring, it doesn't mean anything anyway". Getting one last dig at the man who didn't take your money in your divorce, signed the house over to you and hasn't said a single negative word about you? Classy move.
Katy's picking herself up from the floor, after her heartbreak. I prefer this break-up song much more then Circle The Drain or Part Of Me, as Katy isn't trying to embarrass her former partner, or cattily having the last word. That this track lacks the bitterness of the former two tracks makes this one seem more 'grown up' and gives it more depth, as it doesn't seem like the outburst of someone spitting their dummy out after not getting their own way.
The music is slower and almost ballad-like, but the drum beat and soft synths suit her vocals more then Not Like The Movies.
This is possibly going to be a single. Katy calls this both cute and Prince-inspired. Erm, I've got nothing to add; it's another so-so track, I'm afraid. Tonight is someones lucky night, because Katy's in the mood to break out her naughty nurse costume...
It again uses easy to remember lyrics paired up with upbeat pop/rock music, so it will no doubt do well if it does get a single release, but like California Gurls and Last Friday Night the lights are on, but nobody's home.
E.T. (feat. Kanye West)
The original album version was good-but-not-great, and it was also a promotional single before the album was released, so Kanye's two verses really add the X factor, previously missing, to the song. The music always lent towards hip hop, but it was only after Kanye added his spark that it really became noticeable.
I was disappointed to find that this is the single mix; the version on the music video contains an extra verse, so it would have been nice to get that rather then one that's been available to buy since last year.
Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.) [feat. Missy Elliott]
I can't really explain myself clearly, but I just don't think that Missy rapping goes well with Katy's bubblegum track. The rap was just clearly edited into the pre-existing song, whilst on E.T. it was recorded and made to measure. The result doesn't work for me.
Tommie Sunshine's Megasix Smash-Up
There's not too much to say for this; the track is a mash-up of the six original Teenage Dream album's singles; Caliornia Gurls, Teenage Dream, Firework, E.T., Last Friday Night and The One That Got Away.
It's not especially great mix, but it's not particularly bad. It reminds me of album mega-mixes that artists would include on single releases to create buzz.