Katy Perry – Roar

Year :
Ke$ha / Avril Lavigne / Carly Rae Jepsen

Seasonal marketing seems like an obvious tactic when you’re attempting to move ski boots or swimsuits. But, can pop music be marketed on a seasonal basis? As the end of the summer of 2013 draws closer, I’m increasingly convinced that not only is such a thing possible, but that this might have been a banner year for the practice.

To understand how Katy Perry’s “Roar” fits into the picture, we first need to rewind to August 18, 2012—the release date of Imagine Dragons’ self-empowerment anthem “It’s Time.” Consider, if you will, the lyrics:

And now it’s time to build from the bottom of the pit
Right to the top
Don’t hold back
Packing my bags and giving the academy a rain check

I don’t ever wanna let you down
I don’t ever wanna leave this town

A quick listen and “It’s Time” immediately reveals itself as more than a bit preoccupied with anxieties about leaving home for, well, The Academy. Again, this is a track that was released on August 18th, literally days before teenagers of all stripes begin shipping off on a four-year adventure of uncertain outcome. (Okay, maybe not of all stripes, but at least the ones who might identify with a song like “It’s Time.”)

Imagine Dragons – It’s Time

“It’s Time” is a record-breaking hit, having spent a mind-boggling 47 weeks on the Hot 100 (as of this writing). Not to discredit the team behind the song, but I have to think that the timing of its release had an impact on the way that “It’s Time” became lodged into the minds of millions. Music helps the teenage mind contextualize and process challenges and changes. Wouldn’t it make perfect sense that a song that, more or less, directly touches on a foundational moment of a teenager’s life be a runaway success?

And now, almost exactly a year to the day, we are treated to “Roar” by Katy Perry. To be sure, it’s a far more abstract (or is it universal?) song than “It’s Time.” Perry sings:

I used to bite my tongue and hold my breath
Scared to rock the boat and make a mess
So I sat quietly, agreed politely
I guess that I forgot I had a choice
I let you push me past the breaking point
I stood for nothing, so I fell for everything

Perry never comes close to the specificity of Imagine Dragons’ chart-topper, but when I think about the release date, I cannot help but imagine an angst-ridden incoming freshman finding inspiration in the lyrics, ready to reinvent herself after a summer of brooding. Or, maybe it’s the theme song to overcoming years of being bullied, or even just being last-picked in gym class. The vagueness of the lyrics, at least as far as generating an audience go, are the track’s biggest asset. The listener is invited to project whatever they might choose onto the song. Mix that with the back-to-school season and you have something that looks, at least to my eye, suspiciously like a second helping of last year’s meal.

In a way, there’s something almost cruelly ironic about the whole exercise. Of all her singles, “Roar” might be Katy Perry’s least titillating to date. There’s no wild Friday nights, Vegas blackouts, or intergalactic hanky-panky to be had. Though I won’t, someone is bound to call this her most “mature” song. Mature, and targeted straight at tweens.

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(@YahSureMan) is the Founder of The Daily Soundtrack and Bark Attack Media. He lives in Brooklyn, NY.

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