Remember ‘Teenage Dream’, the iconic pop collection way before ‘Witness’ and ‘Prism’ – The Breakdown

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Around last week I had reviewed Ms. Katy Perry’s new studio album Witness. To be fair, it wasn’t exactly what I expected, which was a bummer, considering that Ms. Thang is undeniable one of my biggest teenage dreams (get it? teenage dream?). The thing is that, it’s not that Katy went into another direction or spread her wings a little wider (cause I give her props), it’s the fact that nothing really stood out and came full-circle. Instead, it came off a little under-cooked and mediocre, and trust me, I’ve been listening to it over-and-over again… As a result of this, I kinda forgot that I had a large stash of Katy Perry memorabilia—that was when I went to her awesome and unforgettable California Dreams and Prismatic World Tour—and stumble across the Teenage Dream vinyl I purchased for the record’s fifth anniversary (which was about one-and-a-half years ago).

It’s funny to think about that because, though I purchased it for the record’s fifth anniversary, I had originally pre-ordered Teenage Dream like, weeks before it was initially distributed back in late August 2010. And thank god I got my hands onto the bonus digipak version before it was sold out, which included the bonus disc Dream On and a hint-smell of cotton candy that was to DIE FOR. I can remember thinking to myself, “Holy shit, has any artist like her done something like this before?”. I am quite the music enthusiast (as you can tell by my never-ending collection of reviews…), and for so long I could have not thought of any other superlative like Katy Perry. But I can remember this scenario; I had spent a week with close family friends outside of my house, so I decided to take this CD along with me because… well, If I bought something, of course I’mma take a HUGE peep at it. I remember being quite excited really, knowing that Ms. Thang had already released the album’s accompanying singles like “California Gurls” and the title track, much to the world of pop’s surprise.

Teenage Dream—dare I say it—is probably one of the greatest, well-executed and most iconic pop masterpieces of the 2010s decade… and y’all think I’m trippin’, but no. I just remember listening to every single song and feeling completed sold by them all. From “Teenage Dream” to “Not Like the Movies”; every single bloody song was screaming “SINGLE, SINGLE, SINGLE!”. The title track, of course, was an extreme sugar rush of fun-loving, adolescence and perfected joy. I remember not liking this song as much as “California Gurls”, but as time passed by (I know, I’m getting old haha…), the titular number is still as fresh and catchy as ever. Then we got the crazy and cookoo “Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.)”, the fourth single from the album. Goodness gracious I remember the bloody hype of that video; Kathy Beth Terry, the snippets of the music videos posted on YouTube every bloody week, and the entire aesthetic! I just kept my eye on the internet to make sure I don’t miss it, and then—with it’s over-the-top retro melody—came the huge music video, which was like… MASSIVE back then! It was so fun and original.

“California Gurls”, which featured Snoop Snoop DOGG, was probably the first taster to the world of Katy Perry, to me. Like, EVERYONE had this song; in shopping malls, at the supermarket, on TV, at school. EVERYONE! When it went to number one, everyone back in New Zealand was actually quite surprised that the girl who shot to the top with “I Kissed a Girl” in 2007, now came out with an intoxicating number like “California Gurls”. “Firework” was the same; a self-empowerment anthem that spoke on many levels. Back in the day where creating fan-art on my computer was a “thing”, I had created a cover for “Firework” and posted it on my Facebook page, featuring Katy sitting on a balcony with fireworks in the background. Cute, ehhh? It wasn’t that long until it got attention for the artwork, where I kinda knew where my career could have headed (not really, but you get the jitz of it…). The song was actually one of Katy’s most stripped numbers, and even that was still nothing; it was over-the-top in the electronics, the beats, and the orchestral arrangement! It’s still a big teenage-hood memory for me, and definitely one of the most defining pop anthems of the 2010s.

Firework
This was the “Firework” fan art I had done back in 2012. All background/foreground images owned by respective owner.

…Then “Peacock” came along, everyone’s guilty pleasure. I think I kinda underestimated the track when I saw it on the track list, thinking it was a safe yet quintessential gooey pop number… but lord was I wrong! Still, looking back at it was quite a chuckle to myself. But as I focused a lot onto the songs, I never really got to hear a more aggressive or serious Katy, mainly because she was a perfected manufactured pop artist that the world craved into. Everybody loved her, everyone wanted to be her, and her shifting positions was quite a big move when the electronic-rock anthem “Circle the Drain” stopped by. It was messy, it was bad, it was dirty, yet so well-created. It was different to the remaining of Teenage Dream, but it served its purpose in letting the KatyCat’s know that she isn’t just a one-trick pony. But after that, she allowed her vulnerability stagger along with the pretty polished pop number “The One That Got Away”, the confessional electro banger “Who Am I Living For?”, the teen-pop brilliance of “Pearl”, and the emotionally subtle rhythm of “Not Like the Movies”. They probably weren’t the biggest jams on the record, and definitely not as memorable as anything else on Teenage Dream, but they were essential to the record. If one didn’t like the tongue-n-cheek buffoonery of “Peacock”, or the silly and fun “Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.)”, then these tracks were there to fill the void. Trust me, there were times where I muted those two songs for something like “Pearl”.

But apart from those, there were two songs that completely snatched the wigs of many and those to come… the first was the mysterious excellence of “E.T.”, another single taken from the record. I remember the bloody hype to this; everyone was at their computer seats, looking at the countdown and spoilers of the music video. And once it dropped, EVERYONE was talking about it. It was just another re-invention on this record that put the cherry on top, and everyone noticed it. Heck, I think a few times she wore some weird-as-F alien-like costumes on the red carpet. And the second was the undisputed and glorious love anthem “Hummingbird Heartbeat”, which is extremely well-produced, but unfortunately for some, the track never saw the light of day as a single, which is a pity because I thought it would have BLOWN ALL THEM BITCHES out of the charts. But y’all know…

“You give me the hummingbird heartbeat
Spread my wings and make me fly…”

Omg I’m almost done with the article (thank god because my hands are nearly worn out…), but I dunno. I guess the sparkle of Teenage Dream, despite many years later, is still quite alive. The amount of accolades and recognition the album, and Katy, received was pretty inevitable, considering that majority of the album’s promotion and push was extravagant. But to be fair, who wouldn’t want to put their hands on a masterpiece like this? I always came to the conclusion that, regardless of the specific “era” of Katy, Teenage Dream invested the most personality than any other record at the time; each song had it’s voice, some were stronger and some were softer, but never weaker than the other. In my opinion, there will probably never be something like Teenage Dream in the next few years (or until the next decade maybe?). For the time of it’s release, it was a pretty inspirational and impact-ful lil’ record that everyone had. Everybody knew the songs and everyone loved Katy Perry, even though some denied it. But looking back from 2017’s Witness til’ now, you can’t deny that Teenage Dream is a staple legend for the 2010s’ decade.

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