Everything That Was Wrong with Katy Perry's Grammy Performance
    • MONDAY, FEBRUARY 13, 2017

    • Posted by: Kirsten Spruch

    A few weeks ago, I went to a Harry Potter-themed pasta restaurant. How was the pasta related to Harry Potter, you ask? It wasn't. I won't name names because I'm not a food critic (second dream job, though) but it wasn't a very good experience. The pasta had nothing to do with anything which left me feeling confused, and the Potter idea was so half-assed, it felt like the owner never read the books or watched the movies, he just wanted to use something trendy to make money. Katy Perry's 2017 Grammys performance reminded me very much of this pasta restaurant.

    Let's start with the base of everything: the song. If you don't have a very good place to start, building a performance off of it is going to be even harder. When I first listened to Perry's new single, "Chained To The Rhythm," I may have made the mistake of watching the lyric video along with it. The lyrics are so painfully lazy, listening to the song is tiring. We've only heard it a million times before.

    Perry was a very public supporter of Hillary Clinton during last year's election and she often takes to social media to talk politics. For the most part, it comes off as pretty authentic.

    Slowly, I am coming down from the beautiful cloud that was Tuesday night's @UNICEF Snowflake Ball. First and foremost, I am incredibly grateful to have received the Audrey Hepburn Humanitarian Award from my hero @HillaryClinton. This award will be a constant reminder to get out of my bubble and back into the field to shine a light on issues that matter most, especially to illuminate the plight of vulnerable children who are living without basic human needs and rights. This honor is a starting line, not a finish line, for me, and I am excited for where my new ambition and purpose leads me! I was profoundly moved and thoroughly surprised when Hillary showed up to give me this award. I broke down and wept watching her take the stage. The last time I was in NYC was for Election Night. I left covered in a blanket of sadness and despair because for me, and I imagine others, the results triggered a lot of dormant fears and emotions to the surface. I feared that we were not ever going to see the light of justice or fairness. I felt vulnerable, confused and frightened like a child. From the outside it probably looks as though I've always had a "voice." Truth is, I have never had one like I have found in the past year. I have a found a new voice, a more determined voice. I grew up sheltered, suppressed and kept silent for fear of giving the wrong answer. I would reveal my poor education. Or I was just scared. Hillary helped me see that we're all in this together, no matter where we come from, what color we are, or what status and education we have or don't have. Hillary lit a fire inside of me that burns brighter and brighter every day, and that fire will NEVER be put out. Feelings of despair still comes in waves, but now more than ever I am MOTIVATED to fight against social injustice and to promote equality and kindness as best I know how, through my art and influence. I am continually inspired by her strength and how she continues to rise like the Phoenix she is, every time. It's funny, sometimes people who disagree with me just say, "Shut up and sing." Boy, will I do so in a whole new way... next year. Hell hath no fury like a woman REBORN.

    A photo posted by KATY PERRY (@katyperry) on

    To say Perry doesn't care about making a political change would be incorrect... She clearly does. And maybe her intentions were in the right place, but boy did they come off as so, so wrong. In the song, she talks about being "trapped in our white picket fence like ornaments," "living in a bubble," and then putting our "rose-colored glasses on" and "stumbling around like a wasted zombie." Seriously... What? On top of all this, she aired it with a lyric video that featured hamsters running around on miniature furniture. All of these metaphors don't make sense - yeah, there were a lot of outlandish metaphors in "Firework" too, but at least they all went together to create one big picture. It's like Perry's team of writers ran out of ideas, looked through all of their songwriting notes, and took the scraps that didn't make it onto other songs and tried sewing them together. Perry was attempting to make a political statement but because she couldn't fully commit to one idea, it just sounds like another radio-ready pop song that is hopping on the political bandwagon more for financial benefit than anything else. If she wants to send a political message through song, she's going to need to be clear, concise, and stick to one idea. Don't relate today's current events to walking around the party like a wasted zombie. Don't sing about how the country might be in trouble while you're prancing around in a new $1,000 'do and rose-colored glasses. It doesn't make sense... Perry was onto a decent start in the verse but then gave up in the chorus, creating a half-assed and downright awkward song.

    So already, the song isn't a good foundation to build a performance off of. But just when we thought it couldn't possibly get more confusing, Perry pops out from behind a huge white fence on stage, hiding there for half of the song. The backing track is pretty loud and we could hear her live vocals shake. She looks fantastic (rocking a pantsuit, trying to portray Hillary, perhaps?) but besides that small surface-level detail, everything is pretty much a mess.

    Let's look at A Tribe Called Quest's Grammy performance. Featuring Busta Rhymes, Consequence, Anderson .Paak, and Phife Dawg in spirit, they literally kicked down a wall and thanked "President Agent Orange for perpetuating all of the evil that [he's] been perpetuating throughout the United States." Katy Perry was tip-toeing around what she wanted to say, ATCQ just said it. As soon as they entered the stage and started preaching, it all seemed very real. It felt like they were speaking directly to us. They made valid points by being realistic and calling out very literal things. Busta Rhymes continued on during "We The People," "I want to thank President Agent Orange for your unsuccessful attempt at the Muslim ban." Imagine Perry saying something like that? Well, she could. But that wouldn't be very safe or Grammy-friendly. After singing "all you black folks, you must go / all of you mexicans, you must go," at the end, Q-Tip chanted "Resist!" That made sense. At the end of Perry's performance, after singing, "turn it up, it's your favorite song / dance, dance, dance to the distortion," she chanted "No hate!" How does dancing the night away and "no hate" go hand-in-hand?

    As she shouted "no hate," a projection of the constitution appeared. So now we have disco balls, hamsters, tiny furniture, wasted zombies, fences, ornaments, parties, an armband that says "persist," and the Constitution... Yeah, this is the same exact confusion I felt when I was eating pasta and meatballs while surrounded by magical wands and sorting hats.

    Either way, this song will be a No. 1 hit and get massive amounts of radio play. Perry will look like a hero when in reality, she is just as confused as the audience.

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