One Of The Boys

10 Nov

By Rahsian Parris

Originally published September 23rd 2008

It is 2008 and the airwaves are bursting at the seams with dance/pop; synthesizer led anthems that would more befit an under 21s in Ibiza than Virgin Radio drive time. The live sound of the pop/rock of yesteryear is rapidly being replaced by high tempo loops and throbbing bass lines reminiscent of the late 90s ‘Euro Pop’ trend; even Britney Spears has abandoned her patented pop production and jumped into the carbon copy tech-pop machine and you wonder how the acoustic sounds of James Morrison and the Kooks even get air play. Then in the midst of repetitive, synthetic loop purgatory and RnB too insipid to digest, there is Katy Perry.

Production wise, the debut album of singer/songwriter Perry, One of The Boys, leaves little to be desired, a lot to be left behind. Seconds into its namesake first track it is clear that, despite what her first few singles and odd dress sense may have led you to believe, Perry is not nearly as ballsy or as edgy as she seems set to prove, a theme that stays throughout the album. By the second track, 2008’s anthem I Kissed a Girl, the vocal production alone is so sickly sweet it will leave you reaching for a bucket. Although the lyrics may be comedic tongue-in-cheek and the overall melody of the track is undeniably catchy, the overproduced, distorted guitars and tumbling bass line, together with far too clean-cut vocals are presented in a plodding fashion when really they feel like they should be stomping.

I Kissed a Girl ends and I am seriously considering switching off altogether, because surely, if this is like most albums, then that was the highlight and what is to follow will be an extra thirty minutes of substandard album fillers. Then something beautiful happens. Waking Up in Vegas snakes into a bright guitar riff alongside Perry’s slightly more relevant vocals, bursting into a completely gratifying assortment of road trip ready, college chick-rock and echoing melodic hooks from early Avril Lavigne, I start to think that maybe this is not ‘most albums’.

Thinking of You fails to disappoint. The sultry power-pop ballad starts off with an Alanis Morisette on a bad day type choppy vocal and acoustic guitar accompaniment, which compliments Perry’s quirky stylistics beautifully. The production begins to sit perfectly as, not hindered by over conscious lyrics or a mediocre vocal, Thinking of You simply exists as pure pop indulgence rather than an over exuberant monologue undermined by the irrelevance of the melody keeping it afloat.

Mannequin and Ur So Gay re-introduce Perry’s flippant lyrics, however, where the title track and I Kissed a Girl seem to lack sincerity and believability, these tracks seem to take themselves far less seriously and with killer hooks and laugh-out-loud innuendos (‘you’re so gay and you don’t even like boys’) are the ironic, male bashing pop/rock songs usually associated with the likes of P!nk. Ur So Gay seemingly brings out the ‘artist’ in Perry as she ditches the typical punk rhythms and popular chord structures in place for an almost mockingly dark, piano led, nursery rhyme-esque anthem. A lounge-like brass section ignites a punchy staccato piano over the lyric ‘you’re so gay’ on the chorus, which by the end almost snowballs into a chant. Desp

One of the boys

One Of The Boys album cover - photo courtesy of katyperry.com

ite its questionable lyrical content, Ur So Gay is as infectious as head lice in a school playground. This makes way for the equally as catchy second single Hot N Cold and cheeky chick-rocker If You Can Afford Me. The rest of the album echoes previous tracks, too little to bore, but enough to be palpable in their own right.

One of The Boys could have easily have been yet another longwinded barrage of diary entries disgu

ised as a foray into modern music, however, this selection of exquisite pop flies the flag for classic popular code and with lashings of modern trends fits in nicely with current music without succumbing to the trends itself. Much like Kelly Clarkson’s 2004 triumph, Breakaway, One of The Boys is seemingly chained together with tracks that have s

taying power. This will ultimately see it perched firmly in the charts when today’s dance/pop hits get banished to summer sale hell. So as the synth’ hits come and go, Perry’s contagious writing style and distinctive vocal (though sometimes lacking in technical prowess) will continue to be the breath of fresh air in a stifled industry, which leads me to wonder, could Katy Perry be the unlikely pop saviour we’ve all been hoping for?

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