Hello, and welcome to Radio Rants. Ah, screw it.
Here we are almost two years out from Teenage Dream‘s release, and Katy Perry is still getting life out of the release. Kinda. “Wide Awake” and previous single “Part of Me” are part of the Super Deluxe Bonus Rerelease edition that came out earlier this year when Katy Perry reached levels of inflated popularity not seen since late 1990s cartoons and released her own movie. Well, let’s send off Teenage Dream by taking a look at its eighth (and very final) single.
Right off the bat, “Wide Awake” gets the same bonus points as “E.T.” for, at the very least, daring to sound different from Perry’s standard ProTools Band set-up. “Wide Awake” is all chilly synths and drum pads with only a kinda harsh beat to keep things slightly grounded. There’s not even that much of a difference between the chorus and the verses; the chorus is a little fuller and the synths sustain themselves slightly longer, but nothing really changes. Compared to other songs, it’s fairly minimal, which is a welcome change after “Part of Me”.
At the same time, though, calling this song “Wide Awake” strikes me as hilarious because it makes me anything but. As a song, “Wide Awake” is only slightly more lively than infamous sleeping pill “Jar of Hearts”. The music’s pleasant, and the songcraft isn’t bad (per usual, Dr. Luke’s here), but it isn’t pretty enough to particularly stand out, and there’s no tension, or even a solid hook. The whole thing just kinda floats in one ear…and…out…the other…without getting all…bendy…
…! Gah! Whoa, yeah, good, I’m wide awake. Something about this song just doesn’t feel…complete. The melody doesn’t really stick or feel cohesive, and the “I’d wide awake” line on repeat is only memorable because it’s so damn repetitive.
Not helping things is Katy Perry herself, who sounds like she barely has her eyes open herself. Singing ability aside, Perry has the charisma to sell a track; she sounds personally vested in a song like “Firework”, or at least engaged with “Part of Me”. For “Wide Awake”, she’s just kinda there as another instrument to get tossed through the echo chamber. After the “falling from cloud 9” line in the chorus, I tune out, and I’m barely tuned into these verses to begin with. Someone get me a coffee?
Anyway, let’s see what lyrics I’m working with today.
“I’m wide awake/And it’s clear to me/That everything you see/Ain’t always what it seems” Doesn’t that line kind of defeat itself? If things seem clear one way, and you just said things aren’t always what they seem, then are you maybe setting yourself up wrong? I think I’m thinking too hard on this–I need that coffee.
“I was dreaming for so long” You’re actually going to say “If I only knew then what I know now”, aren’t you?
“I wish I knew then what I know now” Thank you.
“Falling from cloud nine/Crashing from the high/I’m letting go tonight/Falling from cloud nine” When was the last time you actually heard someone say cloud nine? And seeing how these are the lyrics to the chorus, they’re about as empty as cloud vapor.
“I am born again/Out of the lion’s den” Katy, don’t get your Biblical stories crossed. Wait, did Katy Perry just make two Biblical references?
“Wide Awake” is “Someone Like You” to “Part of Me”‘s “Rolling in the Deep”: the calm, melancholy follow-up to the pissed off break-up single. To be fair, “Wide Awake” is a humanizing single, or at least as close as Katy Perry’s bubbly persona gets to human. It’s still kinda obviously about Russell Brand, and their divorce, but writes about it in a Katy Perry way: sadness through a few mixed images. I wouldn’t call it moving, but it’s nice to see some personal investment from Perry in her music.
But it’s just so dull.
I’m sure I’ve heard sleepier songs on the radio, but I’m still kind of wondering how this accidental Ambien became one of the biggest hits in the country. I didn’t get around to “Wide Awake” earlier because I wanted it to fall apart on its own, but it looks like we’re stuck with it. For now. I’d rather just sleep it off.