A week after 20-year-old Miley Cyrus used "Saturday Night Live" to show-off her vocal chops, even stripping away the surrealist party audiovisuals for an acoustic version of "We Can't Stop," Katy Perry roared in wearing a schoolgirl outfit and a me-Tarzan-you-Jane tiger-print minidress, surrounding the latter with a ridiculously overdone jungle set.
The accessory to both of her outfits: an embarrassed expression.
I wore the same expression for her. Katy Perry is only 28, but a 28-year-old in a schoolgirl outfit is as pathetic an attempt to seem young as your Dad's new dubstep side-project. Even Britney hasn't rocked that look since she was 16.
I guess it's not surprising for someone who named her last album "Teenage Dream" when she was 25, but at least back then she still seemed to buy into her whipcream-spouting, fireworks-blasting boobs shtick.
Now having lived through a tumultuous failed marriage with Russell Brand, who broke up with her via text, she's not the feather-light pop star she once portrayed herself to be. Her new album, "PRISM," largely reflects this. Her go-to songwriters Max Martin and Dr Luke added more emotional depth to the music while the lyrics are drawn from the recent turmoil in her personal life.
Largely, I say, because she also includes a very Miley-like song about partying called "This Is How We Do," which even features her saying: "Shout out to all you kids buying bottle service with your rent money. Respect!"
Respect? More like pathetic pandering, especially coming from someone who recently professed her desire to be like Joni Mitchell. Joni, of course, still has a career because she evolved as she aged rather than chasing after her original youth audience. besides, it's totally possible to still look fun and sexy while making effervescent pop music -- "Til The World Ends," one of Britney's best-ever songs, came out when she was 28 and three years later she's still clocking radio hits -- without trying to compete with Miley. And she's not the only artist with a new album out refusing to act her age.
Eminem is considerably older than Perry -- he turned 41 this week -- but he, too, has run aground this week by unfortunately emulating his young self. More specifically, the worst impulse of his younger self: to get free publicity by shocking with homophobic lyrics.
I am a huge defender of "The Marshall Mathers LP," despite its rampant misogyny and homophobia, because the 2000 album was an artistic statement from the perspective of a deranged individual (or rather, individuals). I even think it was a landmark that should have won the best album Grammy it was nominated for.
But I'd also hoped that Mathers had moved on -- not just because of he performed "Stan" with Elton John way back when but because in 2010, he actually came out in favour of gay marriage in the NY Times saying "I think if two people love each other, then what the hell? Everyone should have the chance to be equally miserable," he said, adding "I think I've calmed down a bit. My overall look on things is a lot more mature than it used to be."
As you would hope, considering that so many years have passed. Hip-hop is a genre so "new school" focused it doesn't have a long history of aging rap icons. Jay Z has navigated this by rapping about being a "business, man," his daughter Blue Ivy and his collection of Basquiats.
Eminem has similarly expanded his repertoire in recent years, writing more considered songs about gender relations like "Love the Way You Lie" rather than his former go-to wife-murder raps and even self-help songs like "Not Afraid." His first single from the upcoming "The Marshall Mathers LP 2" was "Berzerk," a rap-rocker which even paid tribute to old-school heroes the Beastie Boys, an unspoken acknowledgment of Em's age.
But then came "Rap God," in which he boasts: "I'll still be able to break a motherfuckin' table/Over the back of a couple of faggots and crack it in half." In the next verse, he goes even darker: "Little gay-looking boy/So gay I can barely say it with a straight face-looking boy/You witnessing massacre like you watching a church gathering taking place-looking boy/'Oy vey, that boy's gay,' that's all they say looking-boy."
There's just no excuse for that kind of homophobia in this day and age -- I mean, Macklemore's "Same Love" is a radio staple! -- but especially coming from a 41-year-old man who does actually know better. Not to mention that as a childhood victim of bullying, his continued instance on this sort of musical bullying is unconscionable.
"Rap God" does also demonstrate that Eminem's rhyming abilities are as sharp as ever, but his hateful lyrics seems like a pathetic attempt to seem young by recapturing that bygone era when he was most popular.
I get why they're doing it. Pop and rap both favour youth -- see: Miley -- but artists of the stature of Katy Perry and Eminem don't have to pretend. We have eyes. Ears, too. They'd earn a lot more respect by acting their age and winning us over with their music. After all, that's why we're still listening to them.
Singer Katy Perry during the Jimmy Choo annual Oscar Collection Preview and Tea at the Peninsula Hotel on February 23, 2004 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Amanda Edwards/Getty Images)
Singer Katy Perry arrives at The Abbey / Esquire Magazine 'The Envelope Please' Oscar Viewing Party on February 27, 2005 at The Abbey in West Hollywood, California. (Photo by Amanda Edwards/Getty Images)
Musician Katy Perry attends the official launch of Ubisoft's 'Assassin's Creed' at the Club Opera on November 6, 2007 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Noel Vasquez/Getty Images)
Musician Katy Perry attends the Katy Perry record release party for 'One of the Boys' at Capitol Records on June 17, 2008 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jesse Grant/Getty Images for EMI Music)
Singer Katy Perry attends the Katy Perry Concert at Fritzclub at the Postbahnhof on September 17, 2008 in Berlin, Germany. (Photo by Florian Seefried/Getty Images)
Singer Katy Perry attends a post concert party at The Griffin on July 28, 2009 in New York City. (Photo by Amy Sussman/Getty Images for The Griffin)
Katy Perry will be hosting the MTV Europe Music Awards for the second year running. The show will broadcast live from Berlin on MTV on 5 November. (Photo by Dave Hogan/Getty Images)
Katy Perry poses backstage during the Louis Vuitton Pret a Porter show as part of the Paris Womenswear Fashion Week Spring/Summer 2010 at Cour Carree du Louvre on October 7, 2009 in Paris, France. (Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)
Singer Katy Perry poses with two MTV Awards prior to the Press Conference of the MTV Europe Music Awards 2009 at the O2 Arena on November 4, 2009 in Berlin, Germany. (Photo by Dave Hogan/Getty Images)
Katy Perry poses during the Grammy Nominations Concert in Los Angeles on December 2, 2009. The 52 annual Grammy Awards will take place on January 3, 2010. Beyonce topped the list of nominees for the 52nd Grammy Awards, leading the way with 10 nods ahead of teenage country star Taylor Swift with eight. AFP PHOTO / VALERIE MACON (Photo credit should read VALERIE MACON/AFP/Getty Images)
Singer Katy Perry arrives at the 3rd Annual Art Of Elysium 'Heaven' Gala Event in Beverly Hills on January 16, 2010 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images)
Singer Katy Perry arrives at Nickelodeon's 23rd Annual Kids' Choice Awards held at UCLA's Pauley Pavilion on March 27, 2010 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images)
Singer Katy Perry attends the Costume Institute Gala Benefit to celebrate the opening of the 'American Woman: Fashioning a National Identity' exhibition at The Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 3, 2010 in New York City. (Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images)
Katy Perry arrives at the 2010 MTV Movie Awards held at the Gibson Amphitheatre at Universal Studios on June 6, 2010 in Universal City, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
Singer Katy Perry poses for a photo during a taping of NBC's 'Today' in Rockefeller Center on August 27, 2010 in New York City. (Photo by Jemal Countess/Getty Images)
Singer Katy Perry arrives on the red carpet for the 2010 MTV Video Music Awards at the Nokia Theater in Los Angeles on Sepetember 12, 2010. AFP PHOTO / ROBYN BECK (Photo credit should read ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)
Singer Katy Perry performs onstage at the GRAMMY Nominations Concert Live! at the Club Nokia on November 30, 2010 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
Singer Katy Perry performs onstage during 'VH1 Divas Salute the Troops' presented by the USO at the MCAS Miramar on December 3, 2010 in Miramar, California. 'VH1 Divas Salute the Troops' concert event will be televised on Sunday, December 5 at 9:00 PM ET/PT on VH1. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images for VH1)
Katy Perry attends Z100's Jingle Ball 2010 at Madison Square Garden on December 10, 2010 in New York City. (Photo by Jason Kempin/Getty Images)
Singer Katy Perry arrives at The 53rd Annual GRAMMY Awards held at Staples Center on February 13, 2011 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images)
Singer Katy Perry performs onstage during the 53rd Annual GRAMMY Awards held at Staples Center on February 13, 2011 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
Katy Perry performs on the opening night of her 'California Dreams' UK tour at Hammersmith Apollo on March 17, 2011 in London, England. (Photo by Neil Lupin/Getty Images)
Katy Perry attends the premiere of 'The Smurfs' at the Ziegfeld Theater on July 24, 2011 in New York City. (Photo by Jemal Countess/Getty Images)
Singer Katy Perry arrives at the 2011 MTV Video Music Awards at Nokia Theatre L.A. LIVE on August 28, 2011 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images)
Singer Katy Perry, winner of the Video of the Year Award for 'Firework', Best Collaboration Award (featuring Kanye West) for 'E.T.' and Best Special Effects in a Video for 'E.T.' poses in the press room during the 2011 MTV Video Music Awards at Nokia Theatre L.A. LIVE on August 28, 2011 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images)
Recording artist Katy Perry attends the House of Hype's 2011 MTV Video Music Awards After Party at the SLS Hotel on August 28, 2011 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)
Singers Rihanna and Katy Perry in the audience at the 54th Annual GRAMMY Awards held at Staples Center on February 12, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images For The Recording Academy)
Singer Katy Perry arrives at the 54th Annual GRAMMY Awards held at Staples Center on February 12, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images)
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