Why Katy Perry's "Dark Horse" Is the Best Pop Video This Year

Categories: Katy Perry

I am a big Katy Perry fan. To me she's like a sister. I mean, she doesn't know she's like my sister, I've never met her, but in my heart she's family. Which means that, as her biggest fan, I'm also her biggest critic. I believe Teenage Dream is one of the top 5 pop albums of my lifetime, so I was quite disappointed when her self-proclaimed "darker" third album Prism didn't quite measure up, especially when its strongest song, "Unconditionally," didn't even make number one.

One of the most worrisome things for me about Katy going "dark" was the fear that her videos wouldn't match the pure camp pop sensibility of both her previous albums, and while "Roar" was campy enough, it didn't really have that Katy Perry fantasy about it. Enter "Dark Horse." Definitely the proverbial dark horse for a number one chart hit, an unexpected single in itself, "Dark Horse" has delivered on all the Katy Perry promise and then some. It's basically "California Gurls" meets "E.T." meets the Nile.

So here's why "Dark Horse" is the best pop video this year. And if by the end of this you're still not convinced, then may you be smote by the scorned hand of Katy-patra (you'll see).

See also: Katy Perry's "Roar": Why This Song Sucks

More »

Katy Perry Gets Lost in the Jungle on SNL

Katy Perry was in severe danger of getting upstaged by Bruce Willis, who absolutely knocked it out of the park while hosting Saturday Night Live, and that's a feat considering how dead-eyed the Die Hard star/Mr. Clean look-alike is on a normal basis. Willis whipped out a harmonica during his opening monologue, achieved impression perfection with his take on Michael Kors for a Lady Gaga talk show sketch, and was a good sport about the fact that someone in wardrobe apparently thought it'd be a good idea to make the bald guy rock 912 different wigs. By the time Perry hit the stage for her first number, Willis was knocking expectations out of the park, and thankfully, Perry met plenty of those held for her performance by the time she finished "Roar," all the while playing octave tag in a leopard leotard that'd make Tarzan drool.

See also: Kanye West Gets Dark and Political on SNL

More »

Live-Blogging The 2012 Video Music Awards: We Are Never Ever Ever Gonna Use Tonight As A Bellwether

How much Swiftian shock will we see tonight?
Has the live-blog been obliterated by Twitter? Let's find out on MTV's biggest night of the year, the Video Music Awards, which this year will feature Taylor Swift (in business casual on the double-decker red carpet right now), Frank Ocean, Rihanna, and Green Day, among others, as well as honors to various clips designed to big-up the biggest pop tracks of the year.

More »

11 Somewhat Fourth Of July-Appropriate Songs That Are Way Better Than Katy Perry's "Firework"

Tomorrow is the fourth of July, which means the celebration of American independence from Great Britain, which means Americans gathering in various wide-open spaces in order to watch things blow up. The big New York fireworks party is sponsored by Macy's, with the featured entertainment being none other than one-woman spectacle Katy Perry, who has a pop hit called "Firework" and a new movie about how her self-proclaimed "weirdo" persona became really really popular coming out this Friday. How fortuitous! Of course, the "it gets better, you be you!" message of her song is completely undercut by her insistence on continuing to play her metrosexual-shaming ditty "U R So Gay" in concert, not to mention the mean-girlness inherent in way too many of her other songs. If the celebration of her noxious persona on America's big day is enough to make you renounce your citizenship, fret not! After the jump are 11 (because seven plus four, get it?) tracks about the holiday, bright things in the sky, and blowing things up that you can turn up while Perry is trying to turn on the sincerity act. Feel free to suggest your own favorites!

More »

Katy Perry Covers Jay-Z And Kanye West, Adds Rapping To List Of Things She Is The Worst At

Off the top of my head, I can come up with more "controversial" stances Katy Perry has taken than I can count on one hand: "Ur So Gay" being mean, homophobic, and seemingly aimed at Fall Out Boy's Pete Wentz; "I Kissed a Girl" being shock-Sapphic and heteronormative; "You / PMS / Like a bitch / I would know" in "Hot N Cold"; the Sesame Street debacle; the unparalleled mastery of the Maxim mien to optimize titillation; the use of "Last Friday Night" to hop on Rebecca Black's comet and put on nerd drag; the use of "Firework" to hop on the It Gets Better wave; the uncomfortably xenophobic "E.T.," and specifically a remix in which one of the most famous black rappers of the moment was turned into a lascivious, rape-y beast; the microwaved breakup "rage" of "Part of Me" getting timed to a) the end of a very public relationship, b) the re-release of an album, and c) the Grammys in which Adele's heartfelt kiss-offs were venerated. Her debut album was named One of the Boys; her "California Gurls" had a Snoop Dogg verse because casual misogyny and watered-down Golden State triumphalism fit, and "Gurls" because she decided to make it the least convincing Big Star tribute ever.

So why is Katy Perry not going all the way when covering "Niggas in Paris," and instead doing Karmin-style genre tourism? C'mon, Katy: We know what you're saying when you say "ninja," just like Reggie "Combat Jack" Osse did when he took the Voice's Tom Breihan to task for using "ninja" as a substitute for "nigga" in 2006. And you even admit in the opening seconds of your BBC performance that things are going to get embarrassing!

More »

Radio Hits One: Drake, Lil Wayne, Nicki Minaj, Katy Perry, And The Era Of The Hit Bonus Track

Superstar pals and Young Money labelmates Lil Wayne and Drake released two of the biggest albums of 2011—Tha Carter IV and Take Care—and both are still spinning off hits well into 2012. But a look at the singles charts reveals something odd: the biggest current hits off both albums aren't available on every copy of the album, but are instead bonus tracks from their deluxe editions. Drake's "The Motto," which features Wayne, currently tops the R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart and is at No. 19 on the Hot 100 after peaking at No. 16. And Wayne's own "Mirror," featuring Bruno Mars, is Weezy's highest current solo entry on the Hot 100, at No. 68 (it also peaked at No. 16). If you go into one of the few stores still selling CDs today, though, odds are that the versions of Tha Carter IV and Take Care in the racks won't include those current hits.

More »

Live-Blogging The 2012 Grammys: Tributes, Tribulations, Skrillex, And The Return Of Adele

via Cats Who Look Like Skrillex
Will this cat win Best New Artist?
Welcome to Sound of the City's liveblog of the 54th Annual Grammys, coming to you live from a couch in Astoria. There are quite a few questions lurking around tonight's ceremony. Will Adele sweep the three major categories in which she's nominated, thus putting a cap on the megaselling, incredibly popular 21—and how will she sound in her live return? Will Skrillex (above, sorta) put a wub-wub-wub on the Best New Artist category? Will Bon Iver pout his way to the podium if he upsets Adele in Record or Song of the Year? Will Adam Levine upstage the Beach Boys when they share the stage? Will LL Cool J make at least 10 cross-promotional references to other CBS shows? Will Kanye West show up? Will the Whitney Houston tribute be okay? Tune in belooowwww!

More »

Oddsmaking: Will Mumford & Sons Upset "Rolling In The Deep" In The Grammys' Record Of The Year Race?

Every year, when I get involved in Grammy debates with my cooler friends, I tell them the problem with the awards isn't that they reward mass-appeal schlock. If the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences is doing its job right, it should be rewarding popular, undeniable, and somewhat unhip records. The problem is that NARAS can't even reward the popular stuff right.

Nowhere is this more in evidence than in the Record of the Year category, which, next to the coveted, show-closing Album of the Year prize, should be the marquee award of the night. If NARAS were on its game, it would nominate five high-gloss, career-defining singles that crushed at Top 40, R&B/hip-hop, country or rock radio and then give the big prize to a title that makes everyone say, Yeah, okay, love it or hate it, that record dominated.

Instead, Record of the Year has largely become a head-scratching nonevent, in which NARAS, like a middlebrow missile, homes in on a song that's neither hip enough to be a critics' favorite nor undeniable enough to appeal to the casual TV viewership. Just in the last decade, NARAS has given you such Records of the Year as the Dixie Chicks' most atonal and bile-filled single; two little-heard "event" duets by Ray Charles with Norah Jones, and Robert Plant and Allison Krauss; and a U2 song some like to call a "9/11 anthem," ignoring the fact that anthems are usually widely known and this song came out a year before the tragedy and missed the Hot 100, not even charting after 9/11. Even some of the better RotY picks have been wrongheaded—I happen to like Coldplay's "Clocks," winner in 2004, but over OutKast's "Hey Ya!" and Beyoncé's "Crazy in Love"? Way to miss the plot, NARAS. (I wish YouTube had a clip from the '04 show of presenter and friend-of-OutKast Mary J. Blige, visibly deflating when she opened the envelope and read "Clocks," like the word was "broccoli.")

More »

Radio Hits One: Hot 100 Peaks Only Tell Half The Story For Cee Lo, Britney Spears, And Other Year-End Winners

One of the most frustrating things about discussing the Billboard singles charts is how a song's peak position—the highest spot it occupied on a chart during its run—is almost universally regarded as the permanent measurement of its success or popularity. Any song that reaches No. 1 is embalmed forever as a chart-topper, the biggest of the big, and any song that didn't is presumed to be less successful in every way. And in the iTunes era, peaks can be even more misleading, as songs by artists with big fanbases rocket up the chart the week after they go onsale, and then have to slowly pick up momentum in the slower moving world of radio to actually stay on the chart.

That's why I love looking at Billboard's year-end charts: you finally get authoritative rankings of how successful songs were relative to each other, based on their entire chart lifespan during the year, not just how popular they were on the particular week they reached critical mass. You can always use anecdotal evidence, or more complicated statistics like sales figures or radio spins to measure a song's staying power, but the 2011 year-end Hot 100 lays it all out, in simple single- and double-digit numbers as easy to understand as a chart peak. Of course, as my colleague Chris Molanphy has noted, the year-end chart runs from the beginning of December to the end of November, and heavily favors songs that broke earlier in the chart year. But even taking that into account, the 2011 list handily debunks the validity of the chart peak as the final word.

More »

The 11 Most Infuriating Songs Of 2011, No. 9: Katy Perry Featuring Missy Elliott, "Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.) (Remix)"

The Song: Katy Perry Featuring Missy Elliott, "Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.) (Remix)"
The Crimes: Chart-jacking, inanity, wasting the long-M.I.A. Missy Elliott on a nothing verse, allowing lazy writers to compare Teenage Dream to Bad because, seriously, as fucking if.

The story of Katy Perry's chart domination in 2011 is one that has been chronicled in this space amply by our own Chris Molanphy, and hoo boy is it a depressing one, if appropriately in keeping with Perry's overall brute-force nature. Briefly: She notched five chart-topping singles from her 2010 album Teenage Dream, matching the record-setting total of No. 1s that Michael Jackson achieved with his much superior album Bad. Two of those No. 1s had their tracks to the top greased by grafted-on verses from popular rappers. (A third remix-assisted single might just do the same thing and help her break the record.) The first to do so, the t.A.T.u.-pilfering ode to intergalactic other-sex "E.T.," got a boost from a creepy Kanye West verse; the second, the overly self-consciously '80s-homaging "Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.)," was the track to tie Jackson's record, and a rush-released remix with a few bars from Missy Elliott helped take it to the top.

More »