Hello, welcome to Radio Rants, and guess who we’re dealing with. Again.
Yep, Katy gorram Perry. As I mentioned before, I didn’t really mind her One of the Boys singles; they were dumb, not-great pop rock songs, but still felt fun enough. Cue Teenage Dream, and things are still dumb (now without intent), overproduced, and way less fun. The problem is that OotB was big on personality and low on substance, and TD, while still running on about the same amount of substance, has replaced that personality with boobs.
When I saw “E.T.” on the charts, my reaction was a second of mild surprise followed by justified acceptance. In this case, that acceptance takes place in the words “feat. Kanye West”, because nothing says Single Upgrade like throwing in a Featured Rapper. The only hitch to having Yeezy as a guest rapper is that he’s kinda bad at it. Outside of his own twisted framework, his idiosyncratic oddness feels infinitely weirder, and he suffers for it more than he benefits. This is evidenced in his whole first verse only having one chuckleworthy line: “A big-headed astronaut/Maybe it’s because your boy Yeezy/Gets ass a lot”.
Unlike Katy Perry’s previous singles, “E.T.”‘s production isn’t shabby, mostly because it’s so unabashedly electronic. The verse is built on a steady synth and what I swear is the beat from “We Will Rock You”. The chorus adds a few layers: the “chorus whoosh”, a bass line, and a wailing synth.
Also improved are Perry’s vocals. I’ve beaten up on her in Radio Rants past for not having the range for “Teenage Dream”, nor the power for “Firework”, and I stand by those claims. On “E.T.”, it’s not her range that’s a problem, but that her vocals feel a little too digitized (with reason, too, as I’ve seen her do some bad jobs with this song live). But still, that’s kind of nitpicking since Perry’s vocally more tolerable here than she has been for a while. Hell, this is shaping up to be a decent song.
Oh, wait, this is a Katy Perry song. I know where it’s going to fall flat…
“Kiss me, K-K-Kiss me/Infect me with your loving/Fill me with your poison” I know the song’s meant as a metaphor, but that’s kinda…ew. “Take me, t-t-take me/Wanna be your victim/Ready for abduction” These aren’t really terrible lyrics, but the obsessive submissiveness of it is kind of creepy when you think about it. Thankfully, the chorus has a nice groove to it, and the rest of the lyrics aren’t bad, just shallow ways of exploring the same theme.
No, the lyrics really turn south on Kanye’s second verse. The first couple lines are ok if unoriginal, but the general consensus is that things nosedive with “Pockets on Shrek/Rockets on deck/Tell me what’s next, alien sex?“
“Pockets on Shrek” is apparently an adaptation of a line by (who else) Lil Wayne. It means…just click here, because I can’t explain “Pockets on Shrek” without my brain wanting to rebel from Stupid abuse. And after these three lines of poetry, Kanye states that he’ll disrobe you and probe you because he abducted you (which, considering the chorus, leads to some terrifying implications if you think about it), and tells you what to do.
“E.T.” was a weird choice for a single. I found it to be skippable on Teenage Dream, perhaps because it came right after “The One That Got Away” (which would make an excellent single), but perhaps also because it just plods along. It’s not even really a bad song; the production is nice, the vocals are ok, and the lyrics squeak by. Despite that, it’s not particularly engaging as a song, and Kanye’s two verses hinder more than help. “E.T.” might be from a different planet, but it’s not out of this world.