Sunday, June 9, 2013

teenage dream

I just discovered Katy Perry.

Well, that's not exactly true.  I had heard of her when she became a major celebrity a few years ago, but since then I considered her only as trivia.

All that changed three weeks ago when a colleague of mine gave me a large collection of songs.  Among them, I found Katy Perry's Teenage Dream album and got to listening.  One catchy pop song followed another, and I found most of them quite good.  Of course, there was the anthemic "California Gurls" and the mesmerizing "E.T.".

But no track caught my attention like "Pearl" did.  The music and especially the lyrics struck a chord, as if I was being called upon to pay more attention.  So pay more attention I did.  Soon enough, I was looking up the song on Wikipedia and the lyrics on RapGenius.  Little did I know that I was falling in love at the same time.

It did not take me too long to figure out why, of all the songs on the album, "Pearl" was the one that touched me the most.  It paints the story of a girl, who possessed a force that was once incredible but that has since been tamed by a male character, who, out of fear, "keeps her in the dark".  So the girl has come to live as a prisoner in this new reality, one in which she believes that she is powerless.  And Katy arrives ‒ so to speak ‒, lamenting that the girl has become a shell [of herself], before reminding her that she is a "pearl" and letting her know that there is a way out.

Once I understood this, I was convinced that I was in love.  I collected more trivia ‒ Did you know that Teenage Dream is the first album since Michael Jackson's Bad to spawn five No. 1 singles? ‒ and listened to all 12 original songs on the album again, with more focus.  I found all of them brilliant, with the exception of "Not Like The Movies", which was just good.

My ears more finely attuned on a subsequent listen of the album, I stumbled upon "Firework".  Wikipedia and RapGenius confirmed what I was suspecting.  A song in the same vein as "Pearl".  Not only that, it was catchy enough to become the best-selling single off the album.  Naturally, it went to No. 1 on Billboard.

I checked the video out.  Excellent.  It reminded me of Christina Aguilera's "Beautiful", which I also enjoyed for similar reasons.  But I'll take the more festive "Firework" any day.

I ask myself sometimes: "Why do I keep getting drawn to this kind of music?  Is this the quest that I have chosen in life?  To liberate myself from a reality in which I have come to live as a prisoner?"

Perhaps answering the call of "Pearl" will provide answers to these questions.  So I'm not going to be a shell.  I'll rather be a pearl.

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