Katy Perry’s New Single Is a Jock Jams Pastiche

Slate's Culture Blog
Aug. 12 2013 3:31 PM

Katy Perry’s New Single Is a Meta-Jock Jam

147179012
Katy Perry's new album has its first single.

Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Katy Perry hasn’t put out a new album since 2010’s Teenage Dream, but you might not know it because its singles (“California Gurls,” “Teenage Dream,” “Firework,” “E.T. (ft. Kanye West),” “Last Friday Night,” and last year’s “Part of Me,” from the re-release) spent almost three years topping the charts.

Now Perry is trying to keep her streak going with “Roar,” the lead single from her new album, Prism. The song sticks pretty closely to Perry’s proven recipe for a hit confection: Dr. Luke, Max Martin, and Bonnie McKee (the team behind “Teenage Dream,” “Last Friday Night,” “California Gurls,” and “Part of Me”) are back as co-writers. But the song has a dash less sugary pop and a dollop more hammy arena rock than what Perry has typically put out before.

While some have already criticized the song for its “easy clichés,” I think this slightly misses the point. With its claims of “I am a champion” and “I got the eye of a tiger” on the chorus, “Roar” aims to be a pastiche, with Perry self-consciously taking her own shot at the pre-game canon. While this meta-Jock Jam might not have the originality of Jumbotron classics from Survivor and Queen, Luke’s production is slick as usual, and Perry gives a powerful vocal performance (complete with her and Luke/Martin’s signature “oh oh ohs,” on the melismatic “Ro-oa-oa-oa-oar”).

And then there’s another influence: Sara Bareilles’ “Brave.” Though some are accusing Perry of ripping Bareilles off, I don’t hear enough to make a strong case. Yes, “Brave,” too, blends the synthpop clichés of the moment with an anthemic rock sound (it was co-written with fun.’s Jack Antonoff, who knows that territory). But there’s little that’s terribly unique to “Brave” in the first place, and even less of that to be found here. Instead, “Roar” seems like another example of the growing influence glam rockers—from Gary Glitter to Queen—are having on some of the year’s best pop songs: “Roar” isn’t quite the monster that Kanye West’s “Black Skinhead” and HAIM’s “The Wire” are, but it fits comfortably beside those tunes.

Forrest Wickman is a Slate staff writer. 

TODAY IN SLATE

Sports Nut

Grandmaster Clash

One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.

The Extraordinary Amicus Brief That Attempts to Explain the Wu-Tang Clan to the Supreme Court Justices

Amazon Is Officially a Gadget Company. Here Are Its Six New Devices.

The NFL Explains How It Sees “the Role of the Female”

Amazon Is Officially a Gadget Company

Sports Nut

How Much Should You Loathe NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell?

Here are the facts.

Food

How to Order Chinese Food

First, stop thinking of it as “Chinese food.”

Scotland Is Inspiring Secessionists Across America

The Country Where Women Aren’t Allowed to Work Once They’re 36 Weeks’ Pregnant

The XX Factor
Sept. 18 2014 11:40 AM The Country Where Women Aren’t Allowed to Work Once They’re 36 Weeks’ Pregnant
Moneybox
Sept. 17 2014 5:10 PM The Most Awkward Scenario in Which a Man Can Hold a Door for a Woman
  News & Politics
The World
Sept. 18 2014 1:34 PM Americans Fault Obama for Giving Them Exactly the Anti-ISIS Strategy They Want
  Business
Business Insider
Sept. 17 2014 1:36 PM Nate Silver Versus Princeton Professor: Who Has the Right Models?
  Life
The Eye
Sept. 18 2014 12:47 PM How One of the Most Prolific Known Forgers in Modern History Faked Great Works of Art
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 18 2014 12:03 PM The NFL Opines on “the Role of the Female”
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Sept. 18 2014 1:23 PM “It’s Not Everyday That You Can Beat the World Champion” An exclusive interview with chess grandmaster Fabiano Caruana.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 18 2014 1:15 PM Beyoncé’s 10 Greatest Live Performances
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 18 2014 1:24 PM Can the Celebrities Whose Photos Were Stolen Really Sue Apple? It may be harder to prove “harm” than it seems.
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 18 2014 7:30 AM Red and Green Ghosts Haunt the Stormy Night
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.