Katy Perry’s “Teenage Dream” disappoints

By Austin Dale

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If you have never been asked if you feel like a plastic bag, if you have never had a beautiful girl tell you she wants to see your peacock, if you have never thought E.T. could be a term of endearment, you had better be prepared.

Katy Perry’s “Teenage Dream” is an explosion of adolescent hormones and bad poetry that hasn’t been seen since Julia Stiles had an English class hissy fit in “10 Things I Hate About You,” and it will give you all those things and more. It will certainly give you a headache.

This is the pop album from Hell, and it works brilliantly as all that implies. It is like a box of marzipan – it has no nutritional content whatsoever, but it’s so tempting you won’t know what hit you until you’re sick to your stomach.

The music itself is so thoroughly mediocre and uniformly peppy and banal that you’ll hardly notice song transitions. As for the songs, well, the less said the better. The standouts are only standouts because of their sheer stupidity. “Peacock” is the best example because it barely rises above a cheerleading ditty based around a stupid double-entendre about genitalia – it ends up crass and annoying rather than funny.

When Ms. Perry attempts balladry, which she does twice, her weak, over-trained contralto seems terrified. Shockingly, nestled notably in this candy-coated sorority house of doom lies the title track, a keen and effective slice of charming dance-pop.

What does this tell us about Katy Perry’s career? A great deal. While riding on the last waves of popularity stemming from some particularly catchy and cocky hits from summers past, Ms. Perry released a record that will undoubtedly maintain her second-in-command pop-star position behind the marvelous Lady Gaga, currently the Dalai Lama of the airwaves. It is so serviceably average that it sits almost above criticism, and that can’t hurt.

As anyone who has looked at her knows, it’s not the music that matters to Perry anyway, and it’s unfortunate. When she tells us to “show ‘em what you’re worth” on the boring club track “Firework,” one wants to think she ought to take that advice herself.

Austin Dale can be reached at [email protected]