Katy Perry’s “Birthday”

I finally got around to doing a song review! Is it my birthday already?

I’d say it’s time to party, but Katy Perry has officially ruined parties from here on out.

That’s not to say it’s the worst thing I’ve ever heard…But it’s pretty bad. The way I see it, people are either thinking it’s so bad, it’s good; so bad, it’s horrible; or just feeling kind of indifferent to it.

For reference, this is the song and its accompanying “music video,” if you can even call it that. Given her usual level of silly, semi-sincere tastelessness, I was pretty underwhelmed by the visuals (I was expecting more of a  “Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.) kind of skit), and her stand up routine at the beginning was downright painful.

To quote How I Met Your Mother, “Oh, honey…”

For those who have never heard of Katy Perry…well, you probably shouldn’t be reading this. But here are some things to know:

1. Her real name is Katheryn Hudson.

2. She used to sing for the Lord and her pastor parents before strapping whip cream cannons to her bra and dressing like a C+ Lady Gaga.

I can only assume her new status in pop music is constantly giving her family the finger unless they’re reeeeaaaallly relaxed.

3. She’s a pop diva with almost no identity.

Who but Perry can pull off a wild party machine of debauchery, then become the helpless break-up victim who “was so totally committed and faithful to you before you broke her heart, you evil villain!”, all with such detachment and spunk?

4. She’s all about the image, not the music.

I say this because Perry seems like she’s trying to be sexy and “out there;” has tons of writers that “cowrite” her songs with her; and she has an extraordinary, dedicated production team, that can autotune even her (at times) strangled cat voice into something pleasing to the ear.

A lot of fans will argue that last one, but if you’ve ever seen (or rather, heard) her live, you know what I mean. “Nerves and onstage performing and blah blah blah.” She can sing in the sense that she opens her mouth and makes sound come out. That doesn’t mean she’s great at it, or was trained. Her breathing is frequently off.

She is a studio gem that they continue to polish with every new song. People love to praise her, but refuse to give the audio guys their due because they don’t know how concerts or audio in general work. Besides autotune, look up “pitch-shifting” and “compression.” Those tend to be used a bit.

Sorry. Just a little tangent there.

Now, I do enjoy some of her songs. There are a few guilty pleasures, even a couple I could say were actually “good.” Look at “Firework” and “The One That Got Away” (go acoustic for this one because it actually sounds sad and sincere) and you definitely see some potential there. And many of her other songs are just fun when you switch your brain off (which is necessary for some of us).

But that said, I don’t think she has much integrity as an artist. And if you too draw that conclusion here or at any point in the future, shhhhhhh! Be careful who you say that to!

Some of her fans make it to be their mission to defend her to the death, even if you’re trying to honestly discuss her. Perry is a big girl, guys, I think she can handle a little criticism. Or if she can’t, she might want to consider a career change.

But on to “Birthday”!

Whether or not you choose to subject yourself to the video or pull this up on iTunes, here are the lyrics:

“I heard you’re feeling nothing’s going right
Why don’t you let me stop by?
The clock is ticking, running out of time
So we should party all night

So cover your eyes,
I have a surprise
I hope you got a healthy appetite
If you wanna dance,
If you want it all
You know that I’m the girl that you should call

Boy, when you’re with me
I’ll give you a taste
Make it like your birthday everyday
I know you like it sweet
So you can have your cake
Give you something good to celebrate

So make a wish
I’ll make it like your birthday everyday
I’ll be your gift
Give you something good to celebrate

Pop your confetti
Pop your Pérignon
So hot and heavy
‘Til dawn
I got you spinning
Like a disco ball
All night they’re playing
Your song

We’re living the life
We’re doing it right
You’re never gonna be unsatisfied
If you wanna dance
If you want it all
You know that I’m the girl that you should call

Boy, when you’re with me
I’ll give you a taste
Make it like your birthday everyday
I know you like it sweet
So you can have your cake
Give you something good to celebrate

So make a wish
I’ll make it like your birthday everyday
I’ll be your gift
Give you something good to celebrate

Happy birthday

So let me get you in your birthday suit
It’s time to bring out the big balloons
So let me get you in your birthday suit
It’s time to bring out the big, big, big, big, big, big balloons

Boy, when you’re with me
I’ll give you a taste
Make it like your birthday everyday
I know you like it sweet
So you can have your cake
Give you something good to celebrate

Boy, when you’re with me
I’ll give you a taste
Make it like your birthday everyday
I know you like it sweet
So you can have your cake
Give you something good to celebrate

So make a wish
I’ll make it like your birthday everyday
I’ll be your gift
Give you something good to celebrate

Happy birthday”

That speaks for itself, doesn’t it?

Musically, this song sounds like the not-so-loved-child of “California Girls” and “The One That Got Away.” This is confusing right off the bat because, despite the fact that both those songs have upbeat instrumentals, the former song is egotism personified while the latter is about regrets and love lost.

We’re off to a great start!

If there is one thing Perry and her handlers are fond of, it’s playing things up and making them stupid. Aggressively, knowingly, sometimes laughably stupid. This song is strung together with lame innuendos and goofy little throw away lines. I’m pretty sure no one except our grandparents has used the term “birthday suit” in the last 30 years at least.

That’s the mark of bad writing right there: using things that no one says in real life, usually when the writer can’t think of a good rhyme. In this case, they used the term because: Birthdays! Get it?!

I love me some bad puns, but ugh! Even I have a limit!

How many people honestly proposition people with birthday innuendos? Who would say any of this stuff, even in jest? I can’t see it working.

…..

You know what? Never mind. I don’t want to know.

In the video, Perry is appearing at multiple birthday parties to varying people, but parts of the video and the tone of the song by itself feel very much like she’s singing to a little boy. And that disturbs me. A lot.

Maybe they intended it to be creepy. Congratulations! You’ve succeeded, team o’ Perry!

Sometimes, pop music makes me feel like I literally need a shower. This made me feel gross, but in a different way than usual…Yay?

It doesn’t help that the music and lyrics are so bouncy and juvenile. It sounds like someone accidentally (or intentionally) hired a stripper for a kid’s birthday party.

Or that nurse from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.

This song made me laugh at first. Now it makes me cringe. It’s obviously trying to be funny, in that “beat you over the head with the obvious” sort of way, while somehow trying to maintain a bit of playful coyness. But “Birthday” also wants to be a decent party song at the same time. I do not think it accomplishes either.

At least “Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.)” had a killer sax bridge.

It’s only funny because of how painfully unfunny and bad it is. Even as a joke song, it ranges from “meh” to pretty awful. Most people who have ridden in the car with me when this song came on looked aghast, thoroughly tormented by the time it ended, and those who laughed after one playing were irked by it the second time.

Also, it’s creepy.

Katy Perry is whatever and whoever she needs to be to get out her records. She might as well be a cardboard standee with a voice box attached to the back for all the intelligence, personality, wit, and actual musical talent she brings to the table. Ironically, she’d be perfect to hire to entertain kids with her bright shiny colors and upbeat nonsense.

“Dark Horse” was a far better song, even if it sounded like “E.T.” and proved that Perry has no concept of metaphors.

Pop music seems very much like one big wish-fulfillment fantasy. The people listening aren’t partying as much as the singers, but they like to pretend they do. And there’s nothing really wrong with that, unless maybe it’s the only thing you listen to.

What kind of fantasy does this particular song sell? It’s not a personal song on Perry’s part, so it must be trying to sell…something…

I started this review thinking I had something to really say about this song. Sadly, by the end, I find nothing. Nothing really fun, meaningful, or different. Just another picture of the assembly-line, mass-produced, sugar high pulp that is unfortunately all too common in pop music. The least it could do is be fun or funnier.

Thankfully, “Birthday” is not an ear worm.

As usual, lyrics and other media present in this blog are not owned by me. 

P.S. If you like pop and are looking for someone who seems “genuine,” is fun to listen to, and can actually sing, check this chick out! She’s my favorite on the radio, just by sheer personality. 

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s