Teenage Dream . I love this song. A perfect dance ready pop track that doubles as a great love song, and the best lead off track for the album. Katy has a knack for writing lyrics that grab hold of your brain and don't let go, and “Teenage Dream” definitely ranks highly amongst her released singles for that. Of course, it's also nice to hear her mix up her sweet with her sassy on this one too.
Last Friday Night (T. G. I. F.) is this album's version of “Waking Up In Vegas.” It’s a song about having a little too much fun and going a little too far, but wanting to do it all over again. It's not as good as it's counterpart, but that might be due to its lighter sound and Katy chanting most of the verses. Like all of her songs though, after only one listen, the chorus was stuck in my head. It's still fun, and a nice segue from the first track into the next.
California Gurls (featuring Snoop Dogg) was the first single released from the album, and it was the perfect song for summer. It's fun, laid back, and absolutely suited to Katy's style of pop music. With catchy lyrics and an earworm of a chorus, it even gets constant replay by those of us not in California. And it's a great track to keep you warm in the colder months too. Excellent.
Firework, I have to confess, is a song I actually heard a couple of times on the radio without realizing it was Katy singing on the track. I'm so used to her radio releases being the spunky party pop of “Waking Up In Vegas” or “California Gurls” that it didn't occur to me that this song could be one of hers. But it's so great. She really pushes herself on the vocals of the chorus, and the lyrics urging people to “let your colors burst” and “own the night” are fantastic. One of my favorite songs by her, not just from this album
Peacock has such an overtly sexual message that I'm a little surprised that it hasn't earned some parental warnings. But, then again, maybe since the song isn't being released as a single, it's getting overlooked. Sexual content aside, the song is almost completely chanted in a way that hearkens back to eighties classic “Hey Mickey.” It has a fun sound, but probably not a song you should listen to around younger siblings, or for that matter, your parents.
Circle the Drain, rumored to be written about Katy's ex-boyfriend, and musician, Travie McCoy, chronicles a breakup due to the boyfriend's substance abuse. It's a pretty harsh breakup song, and the way the song was recorded provides the overwhelming feeling of anger. Katy could have gone another way, making it a slow, even mournful, ballad, but I think this pulse pounding pop and electronic elements actually make the song even more powerful.
The One That Got Away looks back on a relationship that started in high school, and it's definitely got the nostalgic vibe going for it. Not as upbeat as most of the tracks we've heard so far, but the tempo is still quick enough to make it feel like a fun song. Katy does a great job of selling the feeling of sadness in the song while still keeping the song as entertaining as her tracks usually are.
E. T. made me think I was listening to Lady Gaga for a second. It's got a pounding beat and some interesting mixing going on. With all of electronic elements added in, I can picture a very sci-fi/futuristic music video for this if Katy decides to make this a single, and since the song uses an alien theme to sell the lyrics, it really works with the sound. It's not one of my favorites from the album, but I definitely applaud the creative effort behind it.
Who Am I Living For has a much edgier sound to it than Katy usually goes for. It's more rock than pop. And she can really belt out those lyrics when she needs to, as well as hold back her voice to barely a whisper. Like the last track, Katy takes some creative risks with this song, and while I don't like it as much as I like the fun and upbeat pop tracks she usually favors, the song itself is still really good.
Pearl is so incredibly soft when it starts that, after the last two tracks, I thought that something might have been wrong with my volume. But that sudden change in volume gets your attention on the track right away. And this song is so, so, good. It's a much more serious song than Katy is known for, about a woman who allows herself to be controlled by the man in her life. And Katy sounds so amazing on the vocals here. A must listen.
Hummingbird Heartbeat takes you back around from Katy's creative stretches to her fun pop sound. A little jarring, but not in a bad way. This song is similar to “Teenage Dream” in its overall message, but Katy doesn't bother with the upper register or the few soft lyrics interspersed in the track. It's fast and loud and all pop rock. Really fun.
Not Like The Movies reflects on what love should be. It's the slowest track on the album, and a great closer. It takes all the energy from the rest of the album, all the fast beating hearts and overwhelming feelings of love, and slows it all down to a song about looking for love instead. It showcases Katy's voice really well, giving her some lyrics to work for instead of ones to just play around with. Really good song.
As a bonus track, you also get a remixed version of “California Gurls” worthy of play in the night clubs. I'm not a fan of club remixes for pop music because pop music is already danceable on its own usually, and this one isn't really anything special either. Following that bonus is another remixed version of one of the songs, “Teenage Dream.” Again, not really anything special, just a slightly faster beat with some electronic overlay thrown in, so the “bonus tracks” don't really seem like all that much of a bonus to me.
Now, after all of that, was my (somewhat) patient waiting for this disc worth it? Definitely. Katy Perry is pop music at its best. She knows how to take a lot of what makes the genre so great and use it to her advantage. She outdid herself on her sophomore album, and I have a feeling people's expectations are going to be even higher the next time around. Katy's disc lives up to its title with some dizzying hormone fueled tracks combined with sweet love stories, crazy party memories, and bitter breakups. It really is the perfect teenage dream.