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Katy Perry is Talentless and Not Evolving in her Music?

Updated on August 18, 2015

Katy Perry's early image and sound had an alt rock feel

Katy Perry seemed like she had the potential to be a respected singer-songwriter when she started out. Her first album One of the Boys was pop rock with a tinge of punk. It was a decent album that showed some promise for the future. Perry also went on the Warped Tour when her first single I Kissed a Girl was released. The Warped Tour was initially for punk bands but later expanded to other indie and alternative genres. It was surprising to have a popstar along but her image at that time was very alt rock.

While I didn't think One of the Boys was a great album I loved some of the songs like I'm Still Breathing, Lost, Fingerprints, Self Inflicted and Waking Up in Vegas. I also loved some of her unreleased songs like The Box and Playing House, and the song Brick by Brick that appeared on her MTV Unplugged album. I thought she had the potential to make an amazing second album. Then Teenage Dream happened.

Why Critics Don't Respect Katy Perry

I wasn't the only one disappointed by Teenage Dream. Some early fans of Perry's were turned off by the overly commercial sound and the shallow, often prurient lyrics. To make things worse, she adopted a cartoonish image. Most of the producers on her debut were interesting like Greg Wells who has produced songs for Adele, P!nk, Crash Test Dummies, and Elton John. The title track and fan favorite Thinking of You were produced by Butch Walker who has produced for several alternative artists and is a successful musician in his own right. A few tracks were produced by Glen Ballard who produced Alanis Morissette's Jagged Little Pill. Even Dave Stewart from the Eurythmics co-wrote and produced a track. Major pop producer Dr. Luke was brought on board solely because her label thought One of the Boys lacked any guaranteed hits.

For Teenage Dream, she mostly used big pop producers. Dr. Luke had produced her first two hits I Kissed a Girl and Hot n' Cold from One of the Boys. He produced five songs for her second album. Other songs were produced by Stargate and Tricky Stewart. Greg Wells was the only One of the Boys producer who worked on her sophomore album.

Teenage Dream was a massive success because almost every song was designed to be hit material. Perry tied Michael Jackson's record for 5 #1 singles from one album.

Perhaps it would have been fine for Perry to play it safe for her sophomore effort to remain in the game. However she promised a more grown-up and darker third album. Prism didn't deliver. The lead single Roar was criticized for being a bunch of cliches thrown into a blender and turned into a song. The follow-up was a take-me-seriously ballad called Unconditionally that was vastly inferior to some of her earlier ballads. The song flopped (by her standards). Dark Horse was a made-for-radio smash. Birthday was also a flop (again by her standards). The lyrics on many Prism songs were embarrassingly juvenile. Katy had regressed musically becoming worse with each album.

The main problem I had with One of the Boys was in some of the lyrics. Even back then she had a tendency to resort to cliches and cheesy metaphors. But at least the songs sounded like someone's real thoughts and feeling. The lyrics were often sarcastic, humorous or heartrending. Now her lyrics sound like words thrown together to form hits and get an album finished.

Do you think Katy Perry should have stuck with her more personal early pop rock sound?

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"I don't want to be the indie darling, because sometimes the indie darling means that nobody has heard of you" - Katy Perry to CBS Sunday Morning

Katy Perry is promising musical evolution again for her next album despite reneging on her dark album. She told Rolling Stone,

"I think I have a lot of different personalities inside of me concerning music, and I love a lot of different things, and I like to try things, and I'm inspired by a lot of different things, and I feel like I don't ever want to be just one genre, you know? I want to maybe break the ideas of what boundaries pop stars should be in, you know? I want to do an acoustic record and do a tour that's all theaters and just have my acoustic guitar and my Telecaster and people would be like, 'What the ****?' I'm waiting to play that ace in a couple of years and it will be so exciting. Because I know I've had that up my sleeve for so long. Like, I don't want to have to play something I'm not to get that Number One or whatever. That's not music. That's math. And I don't want to be that."

She's a safe overly commercial popstar claiming she has more depth she plans to reveal at some later date. Katy may not be aware of it but many popstars experiment with other genres or make acoustic music. It's hardly pushing boundaries if everyone is doing it. And she doesn't need to push boundaries. She just needs better lyrics, melodies and instrumentals.

After playing it safe over her last two albums Perry may be gunning for artistic respect. So far she's been a critical failure. Her closest contemporaries Lady Gaga and Kesha have Metacritic career scores of 65 and 66 respectively versus just 53 for Katy. She's also likely aware of criticisms her music is basic, safe, generic and aimed at kids. She may say her music is not about math but hiring Dr. Luke to produce almost half her record contradicts that. Singers go to Luke for hits, not deep experimental music.

Playing House is evidence Katy Perry could make music that's far superior to what she's chosen to do so far

The thing that bothers me about Katy is I don't think she's talentless. Yes she's an inferior vocalist compared to Beyonce, an inferior performer compared to P!nk, and an inferior musician compared to Lady Gaga. She lacks Kesha's level of creativity and songwriting skills (Kesha's also better vocally). Katy doesn't stand out as being great at anything when compared to her female pop contemporaries. But with the right mentoring, good co-writers and creative producers she could have been so much better. She could have actually grown artistically instead of regressing. She's squandering whatever talent she has on basic, cliched lyrics and beats designed to get her to the top of the charts. She reminds me of Miley Cyrus who's squandering her talent in an attempt to get rid of her innocent childstar image with quality music taking a backseat in the process.

The question is will Perry be willing to put #1 hits and sold out tours at risk to experiment musically on her fourth album? And if she doesn't do it by her next album will anyone ever take her seriously?


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      sa 2 years ago

      true shes is Talentless and Not Evolving in her Music

    • JoanCA profile image

      JoanCA 2 years ago


      It's great that she helped you but if she wants to continue to have a career, she needs to start growing artistically. She's getting too old to be doing the kinds of songs she's doing. There's no need for her to be doing such basic songs when people have hits with more mature songs.

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      Anon... 2 years ago

      All her songs are awesome, teenage dream was amazing and prism was beautiful. She makes songs for people who relate to her and are similar to her. Her lyrics are what you make of it and how you relate to it. Don't go Criticizing her just 'cause you feel you don't like her music. She has helped many people, including me, deal with hardships of everyday life whether at home or at school.

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      HD 3 years ago

      IA with Stephen. Her pop punk sound was good. It would've been interesting to see her develop that further rather then abandon it in favor of basic beats and lyrics.

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      Stephen 3 years ago

      If she'd stuck with the punk pop sound she had on songs like Simple she could've been a successful alternative crossover artist. But she probably valued the fame she achieved as a dance pop singer over artistic integrity.

    • JoanCA profile image

      JoanCA 3 years ago


      Unconditionally has one of the most awkward choruses I ever heard. This is why I think she needs to work with better co-writers, who can mentor her and help her improve.

    • JoanCA profile image

      JoanCA 3 years ago


      I was looking through pop forums to gauge reactions to her. Most people on these forums are under 25, yet many were calling her music immature. If many teenagers think her music is immature and are tiring of her, that's a problem. She stayed in her comfort zone when she could afford to take risks.

    • JoanCA profile image

      JoanCA 3 years ago

      Sami Hanson,

      I liked some of the songs on Teenage Dream. I never bought the album but I bought a few of the tracks. But I didn't like anything on Prism at all. And I was actually looking forward to it after she'd described it as dark. Roar was quite a letdown when I heard it.

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      B2C 3 years ago

      I like some of her songs but if Unconditionally is her idea of a great song I don't have much hope for her improving. It's awkward and trite.

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      Kylie 3 years ago

      I'm a huge fan but Prism was a letdown. I expected her to step up her game since she established herself with TD. I'm the same age as Katy and I cringe when I hear Roar. She's too old to be singing songs like that. Plenty of mature songs do well on pop radio. Lorde is only 17, even her music is more mature with much much better lyrics.

    • Sami Hanson profile image

      Sami 3 years ago from Kansas

      I loved Katy Perry. I loved One of the Boys, but I absolutely loved Teenage Dream. I went to that concert, had a complete blast, and even cried when we left because it was all over. Lol it made me feel like I had beiber fever or something, sitting there crying "I LOVE HER SOOOO MUCH. WAH."

      However, my Katy Perry ship has sailed. I'm not a fan of Prism. Normally I always loved her entire album, but I only have a couple of songs I like on Prism--- and I think THAT album sums up what you said about her Teenage Dream album.

      Great hub!

    • JoanCA profile image

      JoanCA 3 years ago


      Based on her success, obviously many people do love her music. It doesn't mean it's evolved though. She can do better.

    • peachpurple profile image

      peachy 3 years ago from Home Sweet Home

      i love katy perry music, she is cool and love her eyes