The Singles Bar: Katy Perry, “Wide Awake”
Posted by Reviewson 03/19/2012 at 5:05 PM
What are the odds? Two songs leaked off Katy Perry’s Complete Confection reissue of Teenage Dream, and two post-breakup songs, which both seem indirectly inspired by the lead singer’s real-life split with husband Russell Brand. Maybe Katy’s guiding her new stuff towards that kind of literary verisimilitude, maybe only the saddish songs got left off the original Teenage Dream, or maybe Katy and co-writer Bonnie McKee were just in a particularly lovelorn mood during one Dream writing session, but whatever the root cause, with the recently leaked “Wide Awake,” Katy now has two very well-timed heartbreak songs for her upcoming re-release.
You can guess much of the lyrical construct of “Wide Awake” from the title. Katy was in a poisonous relationship, about which she was oh so blind (“Yeah, I was in the dark / I was falling hard / With an open heart / How did I read the stars so wrong?”) but now she’s finally getting hip to the general badness of it all (“I wish I knew then / What I know now / Wouldn’t dive in / Wouldn’t bow down”). The most memorable lyric is the chorus declaration of “Falling from cloud nine,” which has that kind of overly obvious figurative language feel that Katy has perfected on so many of her biggest hits (“Baby you’re a firework,” “You make me feel like I’m living a teenage dream,” etc.)—not super-subtle, but bluntly effective.
The lyrics are helped by the big-budget production, which has a sort of Ryan Tedder 2.0 feel to it—the same kind of booming background drums of a “Battlefield” or “Already Gone,” with echoed synths and low-humming bass to create an expansive but not quite obnoxious bed for Katy to wail over. The song is melodically smart with its vocals, too, with Katy sounding cramped in the overstuffed verses (which have a kind of “Fly Away” cadence to them) and then soaring free on the “Faalllliiiing from cloouuuuud niiiiiine” chorus, making the feeling of romantic disillusionment sound positively liberating. It’s not the most original or brilliant of songs, but everything about it just kind of fits right.
If this were Perry’s latest single, we could understand fans being a little disappointed, since solid song though it is, it’s not all that Katy in nature—even “The One That Got Away” somehow had way more of her personality than this song. But as a bonus track for an album that’s been out for two years and already been reissued a couple times? Consider her two for two.
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