August 23, 2013

A Roaring Cluck at Katy Perry

Two of pop music's biggest divas came back roaring to the top of the charts with new singles. Katy Perry and Lady Gaga released their respective new singles recently, flooding the radio airwaves with "Roar" and "Applause." While any Lady Gaga video deserves a hearty peck from The Hen, I'm here to take my first peck at Perry. I have a cluck to her roar.

Perry's single, "Roar," has been the number one song on iTunes and roaring on the radio. I was excited when I heard the title. I like powerful animal noises, like clucking. But after hearing it, "Roar" sounded more like a meow from my whiny house cat. It's not a sassy dance jam or a soulful power ballad - it's a run-of-the-mill, mid-tempo pop song trying too hard to be empowering and meaningful. But it's catchy and I can see its appeal, so fine. I'll flap for cover as the next Katy Perry tidal wave heads our way.

When "Roar" was released, I heard squawks that it sounded like Sara Bareilles's "Brave." I ignored it, typically not buying into claims that artists rip off songs from others. It's the nature of pop music - one artist's breakthrough sound eventually becomes mainstream until someone else tries something new. I don't have time for all this hullabaloo about Lady Gaga copying Madonna, Christina copying Lady Gaga, and Britney Spears copying some old country band (outrageous, Bellamy Brothers!).

But one day while driving, the proof of these "Roar"/"Brave" copy cat claims hissed out of my speakers and clawed my ears! "Roar" played on one station, so I switched it after a few beats to another station, where I found the same beats. Ugh, I thought. Two stations playing the same song at the same time. But the same beats, same tempo, and same key had a different voice. Why was a cover of "Roar" on the radio? After listening to a few more beats, I realized it also had different lyrics. It was Sara Bareilles's "Brave!" Pop music always has similarities in beats and lyrics, but there's a difference between similarities and mistaking one song for a completely different one. Take a listen to the two songs below if you haven't already.

This is the most brazen rip-off I've heard, with releases just months apart, and Katy Perry acknowledging she both heard and loved "Brave" months before "Roar's" release.

Of course artists always influence and build off one another. I generally like Katy Perry. Her music is fun. It's catchy. I own both her albums. But I'd like to think Katy Perry, with her millions of dollars and world-famous producers, could have come up with something a little more creative. Until then, I'll be listening to more Sara Bareilles ...and One Direction.

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