Why Does Everyone Hate Katy Perry All Of A Sudden?
It's a trainwreck we can't look away from.
Purely from a numbers-crunching perspective, 2017 seems to be just another year for Katy Perry, one of the world’s biggest popstars. She’s had a number one album, a couple of top ten singles and is back on another high-budget arena tour that will take her across the world, including here to Australia next year.
If one was going purely off the surface, 2017 would seem no different to 2013 — Perry’s last album cycle, for Prism — or 2010, in support of Teenage Dream. However, a cursory look across Twitter, Tumblr and some key publications reveal the uglier side of where Katy Perry stands in popular culture: she is too big to fail, but her failures have been mounting up to the point where they’re simply impossible to ignore.
So why does everyone hate Katy Perry all of a sudden? We pay witness to Perry’s decline, keeping receipts and watching the firework fizzle out.
When Perry hit the comeback trail in 2017, she was leading with a strong single — the catchy, endearing, Sia-assisted ‘Chained to the Rhythm’.
Also strong was her rhetoric surrounding the next stage of her musical career. Supposedly inspired by being a part of the Clinton campaign trail, Perry changed her Twitter bio to “Artist. Activist. Conscious.” and asked her followers to “rise up” against the newly-elected Donald Trump. She described her new musical approach as “purposeful” and said that she wanted to create songs that would serve as much-needed motivational anthems.
Which would have been fine had she actually held any intention to stick with the plan: two months later, single number two from Witness arrived in the form of the squeamish ‘Bon Appetit’. It’s so far removed from purposeful it would almost be funny – were it not, of course, for the thudding and graceless song itself being such an uncomfortable listen. It’s a little too perfect that today, Perry’s Twitter bio reads simply “i know nothing”.
If using buzzwords like “purposeful pop” got Perry off to a shaky start, ‘Bon Appetit’ was her spectacular face-plant.
Katy Perry vs. Taylor Swift has evolved into a bigger pop culture cold war than anyone might have anticipated. Still, no matter how much poking and prodding Perry has done, it has not awoken the hibernating Swift.
During a Carpool Karaoke segment on The Late Late Show, Perry made it very clear that her single ‘Swish Swish’ was about the feud. Taylor’s response? Nothing. Less than a month later, Perry was talking to Ariana Huffington on the podcast Thrive Global with a very different tune. “I forgive her,” Perry said of Swift. “I love her, and I want the best for her… I just really truly want to come together in a place of love and forgiveness.” Radio silence.
The only real response from Swift’s camp was having all of her music make its long-awaited return to Spotify on the exact same day that Perry released Witness — perhaps streaming well is the best revenge.
The fact that she has remained mute through the entire Perry retort clearly means one thing: Swift doesn’t think Katy Perry is worthy of her time anymore.
Not Your Highway
Around the time of Prism, Perry picked up a new nickname: “the Queen of Cultural Appropriation.”
From her Egyptian costume in the ‘Dark Horse’ video to cornrows and grills in the ‘This is How We Do’ clip, Perry was done with the left sharks and had started swimming well past the flags into dangerous waters. She even did a performance in a literal geisha costume — real tasteful.
When met with the accusations, Perry naturally threw a bit of a tantrum. “I guess I’ll just stick to baseball and hot dogs,” she said to Rolling Stone in 2014. “Can’t you appreciate a culture?” In a January 2015 tweet, Perry blasted: “When someone says for you to “stay in your lane” just respond, “THIS IS MY HIGHWAY BISH!”
Of course, you can appreciate a culture without actively attempting to participate in it as if it were your own. Try telling someone as sheltered as Perry something like that, though.
No, seriously. Try it. Deray Mckesson, the host of Pod Save The People, did earlier this year. Bless his heart. Regarding these issues of cultural appropriation, she said: “I listened, and I heard — and I didn’t know. I will never understand, but I can educate myself. And that’s what I’m trying to do.”
For a 32-year-old who should definitely know better by now, it’s an excuse that comes off more than a little suss. “It’s one thing to make that claim when you’re just some average girl from some upper-middle-class area and you don’t have exposure to these things outside of the media or music videos,” said The Needle Drop‘s Anthony Fantano in a video editorial regarding the interview.
“It’s another thing to be making those claims when you’re one of the industry’s top-selling pop stars. There’s not a single thing you do that does not get scrutinised with a fine-toothed comb by numerous layers of industry insiders and marketers. You, and everyone who is a part of what you do, is fully fucking aware of what you’re doing. You can’t plead ignorance.”
A New York Minute
People may have been more forgiving if the songs on Witness actually held up, and if Perry herself was still worth catching live.
A fateful appearance on the season finale of Saturday Night Live, hosted by potential presidential candidate Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, made clear that this wasn’t the case on either count. Without Nicki Minaj being there to hold things together, ‘Swish Swish’ had to rely on an abundance of dancers to capture any kind of attention — including a teenage boy doing some truly abnormal limb-defying dancing with his backpack on.
Even with Migos present, ‘Bon Appetit’ is still a terrible song, and the performance sank like a stone. Oh, and this happened:
And with that, Katy Perry’s downfall was complete.
David James Young is a writer, podcaster and California gurl. He tweets at @DJYwrites.