Alice Ratcliffe is a third year English student, and whilst this has blessed her with an irreplaceable ability to make the work of the good people over at Wikipedia.com seem like her own, it has also armed her with the tools to ruthlessly dismantle the most banal and inane qualities of popular culture. This week, she has heard some shocking news regarding Katy Perry’s marital status. Scandalous. 

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Katy Perry has got divorced. Did you know that? Had you got any idea? Could you guess? Oh wait, yes, yes you definitely could because it’s all she ever writes about. Song after song after carcinogenic pop-beating song criticising Russell Brand and celebrating her release from his evil clutches. Yawn.

This latest song, “Roar”, couldn’t be any more transparent if it tried. Nor, could it be any more untrue.

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Let’s have a look at the first line shall we? This is where Katy subtly tries to set herself up as the victim of that fateful marriage, the innocent, the damsel in distress,  she writes: “I used to bite my tongue and –”….erm, wait a minute, you used to bite your tongue Katy? Now, I’m assuming you’re using this as an idiomatic phrase, meaning you didn’t like to brashly say exactly what you were thinking, rather than that you had an issue keeping your incisors in check…yes? Ok, well that’s fine, but I can’t help but think of that one time when you told the entire world that you kissed a girl and you liked it. Remember that time?

Now, call me a cynic – I am a cynic – but that sort of statement doesn’t really smack of the meek & mild sort to me. “Reserved” wasn’t exactly the first word that sprung to mind when you burst onto the scene with that. And, sorry for being a pedant, but it does seem that you weren’t so much “biting your tongue” at this point as you were sticking it in someone else’s mouth…

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Anyway let’s move on. You say in the second line that you were “scared to rock the boat and make a mess”. Woah there. Sorry, I’ve got to stop you again Katy, because I know for a fact that that’s a lie. You have no qualms whatsoever about making a mess. Do you? I’m thinking quite specifically of California Gurls, a suggestive bikini and a whole lot of whipped cream. Everywhere. Judging by the manic look of joy on your face it’s perhaps fair to say that rather than being “scared” about making that mess you were actually really, really, enjoying it… And, while we’re at it, if not wanting to “rock the boat” is a euphemism for not wanting to cause controversy then I’m afraid the provocative whipped cream-ery, with all its connotations, belies that claim too.

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Now I understand that this sort of falsity is perhaps what the superficial pop industry demands of its stars nowadays and in some ways I can sympathise  – it’s a fickle world and maybe you’re just fighting to maintain integrity by writing about ‘real issues’ like heartbreak and female subjugation and, erm, tigers…but somehow it seems more likely that you’ve just run out of ideas.

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It was the chorus that gave me that impression. I’ll be honest, I read through it a few times searching for the musical genius, perhaps a hidden depth that I might have missed at first, but unfortunately after the third read I was forced to come to the conclusion that “oh oh oh oh oh oh, oh oh oh oh oh oh, oh oh oh oh oh oh” just seems to mean “oh oh oh oh oh oh, oh oh oh oh oh oh, oh oh oh oh oh oh” and no power of interpretation could tell me otherwise. Quite disheartening really, particularly for an English student who could usually pull at least ten sexual, philosophical, theological and metaphorical meanings out of a description of a leaf…

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I want to give you the benefit of the doubt and say that Roar is some sort of anthem for female independence, a cry for liberation, an attempt to reverse the roles that were set up in the Garden of Eden all those years ago when Eve was made out of Adam’s spare rib…  And I mean, fair enough, women shouldn’t think of themselves as the mere product of a superfluous piece of bone and cartilage, we’re stronger than that, so maybe that’s the point you’re trying to make…?

Yeah, that’s me trying to give you the benefit of the doubt. However if I didn’t do that, if, in fact, I were now to take away such a benefit from the doubt that is lingering in my mind, what I might suggest is that all you really wanted was to churn out another chart-topping cliché for drunk girls who’ve just been dumped to passionately sing along to in clubs with their BFF’s to reassure themselves that being lonely isn’t all that bad, and they deserve better than him anyway…sniff.

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Keeping the benefit out of the equation a moment longer, I might propose that you just wanted to dress up in a skimpy outfit and look all wild and sexy and therefore get lots of Youtube hits (because we all know where they come from). Holding back the benefit for longer still, I might even go as far as to label this song a last ditch attempt to win Russell back using reverse psychology and a push-up bra…Hmm.

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Now, if that last hypothetical point was actually the case then I’m afraid your logic might be slightly off. First of all, I don’t think men aren’t all about boobs, and secondly, I’m not sure they’re really that ‘into’ women that roar louder than a lion on a regular basis…actually I imagine they would get pretty annoyed with that to be honest. But hey, if “independent feline” is your chosen angle then I wish you all the best with it and, you know what, I look forward to any upcoming releases… “I don’t need no catflap”…”The fleas won’t get me down”…”I’m a meat-eater”…The possibilities really are plentiful – just switch up the vowel sounds in the chorus and you’re onto a winner.

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Alice Ratcliffe 

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1 Comment

  1. Isabelle
    November 4, 2013 at 00:41 — Reply

    Alice,

    You make good points overall, but why drag it out like this? Why do you even bother to write entire articles about the lyrics of uber popular songs that are written to be just that: popular songs? I’m thinking of your Jessie J article and this one about Katy Perry. I think that these songs should serve their purpose to entertain at Ocean etc, but that they do not need to be studied like you do your English work. Go for it, look at the lesser known gems appearing all over the music scene these days, work out why the magic happens, why the words sung so beautifully by London Grammar (Go NOTTS!) and their peers make us shiver.

    Till the next time we get to read you!

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