Almost every artist, especially those acts who emerged during the last 10 years, seems pitiful when compared to the enormous shadow of Michael Jackson. However, one particular act has become a favourite metaphoric punching bag of the critics who continuously seek ways to slam the younger generation. That artist is Katy Perry.
From the moment that it became clear that Perry was on the path to matching Jackson’s record of five #1 songs from a single album on the Billboard Hot 100, she automatically became the bane of every sel-proclaimed “music fan.” Of course, you could imagine the nightmares about Hello Kitty that they had when the singer not only matched the King of Pop but she launched a campaign to surpass him.
Still, what really bothered most people about Perry’s accomplishments were her numerous business tactics to achieve success. Her label, Capitol Records, slashed the prices of several of her singles and issued a series of shamelessly paltry remixes in clear attempt to give the tunes the momentum to nab the top slot of the Hot 100.
For instance, Perry’s latest single, ‘The One That Got Away’, is currently available in its original form, a remixed version that features rapper B.o.B. and acoustically. These versions of the song were once priced at 69 cents, 99 cents and 99 cents, respectively, on iTunes instead of the usual $1.29.
Issuing three discounted versions of one single could easily be termed as desperation but in 2012 when label executives are forced to go the extra mile to achieve their bottom lines, such a practice is actually a case of savvy business. In fact, we shouldn’t expect anything less from an artist who perfectly represents the iTunes generation – aside from Proactiv acne medication, of course.
Similar to Rihanna, Perry caters to the 16 to 25-year age bracket where persons rarely buy albums and they are easily satisfied by purchasing select tunes on iTunes rather than complete collections. I explained this issue in greater detail during a previous article regarding Rihanna’s slow album sales. You can read all about it here (it’s quite interesting if I do say so myself).
Remarkably, though, despite the fact that Perry’s fanbase comprises mindless school girls, intoxicated surfers and young gay men with attention spans lasting less than 15 seconds – hey you, stop scrolling on Tumblr and pay attention! – her ‘Teenage Dream’ album has sold relatively well. Indeed, since August 2010, the LP has sold over 2.02 million copies in the US, which is better than most other artists who appeal to a similar market. This is typified by Rihanna’s ‘Loud’, which has yet to pass the 1.6 million sales mark, despite the fact that it was released during the peak sales period of November 2010 and was surrounded by a series of scandals, such as sex and stolen ideas, to keep it in the headlines.
Honestly, is Perry really that bad, especially when compared to her peers? She writes her own songs, she is a generally competent singer and she makes great videos. Additionally, with the exception of her cut/paste remixes that could have been made with the GarageBand app on a Mac, her music is actually good! You know that you scream ‘The One That Got Away’ when you’re vacuuming the carpet and you think your neighbours can’t hear you singing horribly off-key.
“Instead of admitting that Perry’s music is enjoyable, they compare it to Jackson’s work and exaggerate the latter’s worth…”
Perhaps, critics aren’t just using Perry as their punching bag but they’re also using Jackson as their shield from reality. Instead of admitting that Perry’s music is enjoyable, they compare it to Jackson’s work and exaggerate the latter’s worth in an attempt to diminish the former’s accomplishments.
Was every Jackson song from ‘Bad’ a brilliant piece of musical tapestry? The title track alone should inspire you to answer that question with a negative response. Let me make it easy for you: write out the lyrics to that track and pay close attention to the opening line, “your butt is mine!” Yes, we should all be amazed by it’s literary genius.
In conclusion, Perry is not the silly Betty Boop character that the media enjoys attacking. Regardless of who surpasses Jackson’s chart achievement, the critics would be upset simply because such a feat represents a shift in the tide from the older generation to the younger generation. Records are meant to be broken but when they have been replaced, they make those persons who witnessed the originals feel as though they themselves are relics of the past.