A Song That Makes You Happy: “Roar,” Katy Perry (2013)

Task 3 on the “30-Day” Music Challenge is to write about a song that makes you happy.

This weekend, I re-watched (for the first time in years) one of my favorite movies, High Fidelity. Not quite as good as the Nick Hornby book that inspired it, it tells the tale of Rob (John Cusack), an unlucky-in-love, music-obsessed, thirty-something record-store owner. At the very beginning, our flawed protagonist drops this rhetorical question: 

Did I listen to pop music because I was miserable? Or was I miserable because I listened to pop music?

We will revisit this when Task 4 (a song that makes you sad) rolls around, but I feel a mirror image of this is also valid.  When I’m in a particularly good or especially social mood, I feel like listening to music. My spirits are then elevated further.  (When I’m in a fair mood, incidentally, Howard Stern, This American Life, or the Savage Lovecast become my soundtracks of choice.)

But a song that makes me happy is also, as it turns out, the same one I’m most desperate to hear at a time when I’m nearing the proverbial cloud nine anyway (or at least cloud three). In the past, my songs of the season have included the following: “Girlfriend,” Avril Lavigne. “Frances Farmer Will Have Her Revenge on Seattle,” Nirvana. “Move Along,” The All-American Rejects. “The Remedy (I Won’t Worry),” Jason Mraz. “Teenage Dream,” Katy Perry.  Well, Ms. Perry has my attention once again, and today’s featured 2013 hit — the first single from her fourth album, Prism — currently holds the honor.

When I first heard it, I thought the tempo a little too slow, the rhyme scheme of the chorus a little too messy (“fire” rhymes with “fire,” then “lion” rhymes with … nothing).  And then it grew on me … like a syrupy, fluffy little fungus.

First, the theme of self-assuredness in the wake of a stifling relationship, though hardly original, is  one to be applauded.  Wash that man right out of your hair and be stronger without him, Katy. (Whether “that man” is Russell Brand, John Mayer, or someone fictional remains unclear and irrelevant.)

Secondly, as this is yet another Max Martin gem, there are the musical cornerstones that make Martin’s contributions to pop instant classics.  Key changes.  Vocal crescendos.  Interesting — if artificially created — instrumentation.  Little vocal flurries that crop up in the background that you might not notice at first (I smell the seeds of a FFWDing … post germinating.)

Listening to “Roar” has become part of my weekend routine. I’ll listen to it while I’m getting ready, and it often is required listening as the evening draws to a close, as well.  The video (below) is horrible in nearly every way, but I’ll cut Katy some slack in this area.  (But seriously, how does she have so much makeup on if stranded in the middle of the … NEVER MIND.) Enjoy … and I hope this makes you smile.

 

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