First Hit #1: March 3, 2012
Another part of the big breakup of 2012, here’s a song where Katy Perry does not think everything is awesome. It’s a song about the end of her own marriage – or rather one that became about her personal life, given that it was written earlier – and while it’s rendered in the same way as basically any other Katy Perry song – it sounds like it could be a song about how cupcakes are delicious that had a drastic turn for the maudlin after Perry’s personal life took a turn for the worse. It’s lyrically not like much she’s ever done, but musically exactly the same, a weird disconnect that attempts to resolve by the end – there’s an attempted Stronger moment in a late verse – but never really does.
It’s also the single that was meant to sell “Teenage Dream: The Complete Confection” which I had always intended to be the song to represent the irritating habit of artists trying to sell old albums with a bit of new art. Of course, this plan was not actually that well thought out, given that we’re almost at the end of this project and I’m just now addressing it, but way back in 2012 it was honestly the song that made me consider just how annoying the scheme actually is.
Part of Me had a huge amount of hype going into its release, since it was a breakup song after Perry’s own public breakup. It was also a song that could have been included on the original release of Teenage Dream, it was complete and basically ready to go. It would not have had quite the same meaning then, of course, but it was still a finished song. The same could be said about most of the songs included on the reissue, though several were remixes, which was connected to an album that wasn’t that old to begin with.
Artists don’t release every song from an albums recording sessions, some songs don’t just fit into the flow of an album or they don’t really belong in that context. That’s fine, if the song is good you just keep it and use it later, whether as a B-side or as part of a different album where it actually belongs. I can certainly believe that Part of Me was not appropriate for the original release of Teenage Dream – the attitude of the song runs counter to the other singles – but if it doesn’t work for that original release, why would it work appended on the end of a deluxe edition released long after everyone who wanted it had already bought the original?
What the later deluxe reissue fad does is punish fans for buying albums. Someone who actually wants to own a part of Katy Perry, as it were, might want that physical copy, with artwork and nifty inserts. They’re going to be the ones that will see a reissue and be sold an album they already own, with a paltry number of new songs as a reward. Instead of holding off, or just recording new material – honestly, Teenage Dream was 2010, the “complete” Teenage Dream was 2012, plenty of time to at least put an EP together – it’s a way to transparently bilk the most hardcore fans you have out of their hard earned money. While it’s now possible to buy albums piecemeal, so people can get the bonus tracks they like individually, the people who actually buy the CDs are the ones who will be punished, because they own these songs already.
One can argue about what’s killing the music industry all they want, but mercenary practices like this can’t possibly be helping it.