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The Critics Corner: Albums
Teenage Dream
Katy Perry | Teenage Dream
Solid sophomore effort a multi-faceted one
Name: "Teenage Dream"
Label: Capitol
Release Date: August 24, 2010
My rating: 4.3 out of 5

Review by Ashley Rosenberg
Take a ride through the years of your life that brought you the most joy, drama, feeling, and fun with Katy Perry as she relives the Teenage Dream. Katy's teenage years actually included being bounced around from label after label, trying to get albums released.  She has obviously found a match with  Capitol Records where her creativity and quirkiness can shine through and help her release such hits as  Hot n Cold and I Kissed a Girl from Just One of the Guys,and most recently California Girls off of her newest album, Teenage Dream. Songs from Perry's third album have already become staple songs for this summer. Katy's popularity and unconventionality boost this album from just a story, to a story that you can feel, relate to, and dance to.  In her own biography on her official site, Katy Perry stated that she wanted to keep the substance that she maintained in her last albums while adding in her own quirkiness.  After listening to the album, it is clear that she succeeded in doing this and more.

Teenage Dream, the title track starts the dream of this album.  Katy sings about feeling like a teenage dream, taking her back to how she felt when she was a teenager.  She and the guy who she is with spend a night being the teenagers that they once were, reminiscing and playing around, enjoying being who they used to be.

The next track brings us right back into our crazy, fun, and spontaneous college years.  Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.)  is about having fun, making memories, and not caring about anyone but ourselves.  This is a fun, upbeat song that really brings you back to those carefree weekends with your friends.  The music has a great energy that really puts you back into that place.  The small instrumental break towards the end of the song gives it a feel that separates it from just being a pop song and really compliments her voice.

Katy's first single off of this album, California Gurls, is third.  This song has made its way into one of the official songs of this summer.  Snoop Dogg lends his smooth rapping talents for this song, adding just a little unexpected something that makes this song more fun. This song is all about summer in the quintessential summer location: California. It is definitely a song that will get stuck in your head and make you want to dance and hang out with your friends.  It's fun, flirty, and just a good time; exactly what a summer song should be.

The tracks begin to take a turn after this, delving into the deeper emotions of going through your teenage and college years.  Fireworks is a song about empowerment and believing in yourself.  Katy sings about things that many girls go through as they grow into themselves.  They are unsure, they lose confidence in themselves, and they often feel that they have no work.  This song is very inspirational and attempts to reassure anyone that they are remarkable and have something to offer.  The beat will pump you up and give you energy while the words really mean something to those who have gone through feeling like this before.

Peacock is a song about sexual exploration and encounters.  Perry boldly challenges the boy basically to prove to her what she has heard about him from her friends and through rumors.  This song is fun, upbeat and very risque.  Without saying what she really means, it is very obvious what Katy is looking for when she sings this song.  The song itself sounds almost like a cheer; there is miminal music which is mostly percussion and clapping with some keyboard and synthesizer added in.

Everyone has that relationship where they try to be the one who changes the one they are with for the better whether it is to get them to kick a habit for them, or to help make that person better.  Circle the Drain expresses just that experience and the frustration that goes along with it.  The anger and exasperation are clearly expressed through the guitar, drums, and synthezier used in this song as well as Perry's bold “I've had enough” themed lyrics.  You can feel how fed up she is through this song and how done she is with the relationship.  

The next track, The One That Got Away, is about falling in love at a young age and feeling like everything is perfect.  The couple in this song was the perfect pair, but as they grew older, they changed and grew apart.  You can hear the tinges of sadness and regret in Perry's voice, which sounds beautiful on this track, as she sings about how things would have been if she had told him how much he meant to her in the first place.  Though the music is fun, it has a sorrowful undertone in it to match the feeling of the song.

I had a little bit of trouble getting into the eigth track, E.T. I loved the beat and style that the song was done in, but for some reason it wasn't working for me.  The style make it interesting in a dark, wanting way.  It is about being with a guy whose love gives her an out of body experience to the point where she is convinced that he has got a super natural quality to him.  Who Am I Living For has a similar style of music to E.T.,  with a very different message.  The song expresses that everyone should live for themselves and do things that they want to do, no matter what it takes.  No one lives for anyone else but themselves.  This song is almost eery in its seriousness which only reenforces what this song is about.  Many people go through life trying to please others, but Perry insists that we need to stop doing this and do things according to what is better for ourselves and what we need to do for us.

Pearl slows the album down with a song about a girl who has lost herself in trying to become who someone else wants her to be.  The lingering, sorrowful melody moves the song along as Perry sings about how this girl used to be, using the novel, Of Mice and Men, as great metaphor of squeezing the life out of something.  This song expresses how her boyfriend kept her down and in the dark because he was scared of the independent woman that she is to the point where she is hardly herself anymore.  The music picks up and becomes more upbeat and hopeful as Perry sings about there being a way out; the song then switches to first person as she expresses that she used to be this girl.  Through life experiences, she has become herself again, stronger, unstoppable, and more empowered.

Hummingbird Heartbeat brings the energy of the album back up with another fun song that kind of reminds me of older pop songs from when I was younger.  This song is about the excitement of being young and in love, experiencing all of those feelings for the first time.  Whenever the guy is around, her heart flutters and everything seems to be amazing and beautiful. This song is really cute and great to sing along to.  It is definitely uplifting after the last few songs of the album.

The album ends with a soft and slow song about love.  I don't think that I have ever heard Perry's voice sound as good as it does in Not Like The Movies.  This is a huge step from her crazy, fanciful, and fun style, but I would love to hear more songs like this from her.  Perry sings about finding real true love; first about a relationship that did not fit her and did not feel right.  She is looking for that love that feels like the movies; the one that stops everything and can only get better as it goes on.  This song embodies what every girl hopes for in love, and is a beautiful way to end the teenage dream, as well as her album.

Teenage Dream was a perfect name for this album.  Anyone who listens to it will be brought back to their younger, freer years.  Each song illustrates a different experience that everyone goes through during those years.  The music for the individual songs match perfectly with the feelings and memories that the songs evoke.  Perry does a great job capturing all the different energies of being young, growing, and in love in this album.  I was not expecting the album to be so multi faceted; I was so impressed.
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