Pop music, as a parent 1. Katy Perry


I am listening to Katy Perry, through choice.

She does not compete. She does not irritate. She does not challenge. I do not feel that her music necessarily enhances my life but neither do I feel it detracts from it. The occasional moments she connects, she helps me understand and connect and sustain an interest in the outside world. (No, she does not represent the outside world except in my interpretation of the way the outside world interacts with her music. This, I am unable to do with Connections, say – or Porridge Radio. The outside world by and large does not connect with Connections, much as I might like it to. The outside world is, by and large, unable to understand Porridge Radio even if the outside world had heard Porridge Radio.) Another advantage is that I can play Katy Perry and no one complains. The children might even dance a little. Anything that helps soften the mood is not a negative. Trust me, you do not want extra provocation or edginess or disquiet from your music if you are a parent. Or maybe you do? That is your call.

I am listening to the new Katy Perry album, though choice.

It does not work on headphones. It is not designed for your undivided attention. It is not designed for dissection. (Yes, you can argue that about a lot of music. Bollocks to that argument, though.) It is designed to be heard in public. Yesterday, I heard Blur being blasted out by the builders working on the house opposite and once again I was struck at how much better they sound in the open air. Katy Perry goes with the washing up, the mundane, the commonplace – and the moments where she connects she brings a wry smile to the lips. Such obvious tunes and beats, no matter. Work out music for people who do not enjoy the gym. Syncretism for those who never dream cultural appropriation could be bad. Of course other pop stars do this better. This is no competition, this is just a little relief. There is a part of me that is always stuck on the edge of the dancefloor wondering what mates are like.

I am listening to Katy Perry, by choice. I think I might take her off now though – this is the wrong time of day. I do not like her voice: it sounds flat, forced. The chord changes are way too predictable. The sound is a wash, not invigorating. I cannot wait to hear the 50 Shades of Grey soundtrack tomorrow.

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