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#ROAR Vs. #Applause

14 August 2013
Well, well, well, the last few days haven't exactly panned out how we thought they would, have they? Katy Perry's new single leaked two days early, and in a self-proclaimed 'Pop Emergency!!1!' Lady Gaga premiered her brand new single yesterday, a whole week before it's original planned airdate, after snippets started to leak over the weekend. It's a shame no-one can really avoid leaks anymore...

Both singles have been released to the US this week, and whilst Katy Perry has already soared to the top of the iTunes chart, Lady Gaga is pretty hot on her heels after not even 12 hours on sale yet. It's the battle of the KatyCats and the Little Monsters - each fanbase are fighting for their pop 'kween', but let's break the two releases down and see who really wins this battle. Will Katy Perry be roaring with delight? Will we be giving Lady Gaga a round of applause? Will my puns ever get any good? Let's find out...

In order for this to be a fair analysis, I've split the releases into 6 parts:

Artwork / Comeback Factor / Promotion / Lyric / Production / Reception

I'll be rating each part out of 10 - for Katy we have 10 blue wigs, and for Gaga 10 eggs vessels. Let's do this.

Katy Perry shocked us all when revealing the artwork for Roar - the general reaction was that it looked fanmade, which isn't always a bad thing, but the mixture of textured tiger print border and bevelled text, which looks just a bit too much like Clip Art, didn't help matters. There's no denying Katy looks freaking flawless, and the rather prominent fierce feline on her back has pretty strong imagery, but as an overall piece, it's a little bit of a mess. Everything would really work if everything else wasn't so full on; I really love the border in particular, but there's just a bit too much going on. I'm warming to it a lot though...

Batting for the other side of the graphic team, Gaga keeps things simple, with a picture inspired by Pierrot. She's surrounded by a lot of white material, the purest of the colours, and her face has been painted white, only to be covered in smudged bright colours. The handwritten text keeps it person, and adds to the 'art' theme. Gaga also looks unrecognisable on the cover, making the same face someone may make trying to work out if it is actually her...

As rumours, stories and teasers came out about Katy Perry's highly-anticipated third album, there was a very recurrent theme - she was changing her musical direction. Whilst 'Roar' is different in style, it has the same elements of any Katy Perry song - a catchy, almost anthemic chorus, and a not-going-to-forget-this-for-a-while hook. It's strong, and powerful, and definitely gives you some 'feels' - and whilst it may not exactly be what the song's about, Katy lets us know she is back with a 'roar.'

In terms of Lady Gaga's long-awaited comeback, fans and critics alike were expecting a song that pushes the boundaries Gaga always loves to nudge, and with the leak of album track 'Aura' getting everyone excited for a quirkier/more experimental track we were surprised by this almost normal pop gem. It stands alone as quite a straightforward track with some catchy hooks, but break it down and it still has a bit of that complexity found in every Gaga song. Would probably work better as an album track, or 3rd or 4th single, perhaps not a lead, it should still be a more commercial hit though.

She's got a gold truck driving around the world, and is asking people to spot it and tweet her. Yes, that may be to promote the album, but what a genius idea... props to the promo team for that one! Katy has also given us a few teasers on her Vevo channel, referencing the death of her old style, and introducing the new one, which has kept people eager to hear what she was going to bring to the table. An interesting lyric video for the track was uploaded yesterday, and whilst it was going to be hard to follow the infamous 'Wide Awake' lyric video, the emojis and WhatsApp feel to 'Roar' has got a lot of people talking online. Nice move...

The fans have pretty much been promoting ARTPOP online ever since Gaga announced it many moons ago, and Gaga has been teasing us with brand new pictures from the new era over the last month or so. The promotion really kicked into high gear over the last couple of days however... many people have claimed Gaga's team leaked the snippets of Applause themselves over the weekend to build up hype, and on Monday (through risk of the full song leaking) - Gaga announced a Pop Emergency on her twitter page and went on to announce the song's earlier premiere. Publicity stunt or not, it was a nice surprise, and the interaction she'd had with her fans since (asking them to recreate the cover, share videos of them dancing, and prove how much they've bought/shared the single) has been very effective, but has come across a little full on and dare I say desperate. She has also gone out sporting a similar style of make-up to the single cover which is just pure dedication.

Whilst the lyrics to 'Roar' are strong and powerful, almost inspiring, there is a slight element of cheese in them. Only today, did someone say to me it reminded them of a Glee original-song reject. Katy's already proved herself a frontrunner in inspiring songs (Firework anyone?) so it seems a little bit of a throwback, but 'Roar' is still fresher and feistier, with a bit of a bite. Two little things that bug me though are the absence of a middle eight (the second half of the song doesn't really seem to go anywhere,) and the rhyming of 'fire' and 'fire' - Pitbull would be so proud (with his Kodak.)

Gaga's lyrics aren't as inspiring - in fact, they come off just a little bit arrogant, if not demanding. She's craving the attention, and wants people to give her the applause, as its what she lives for. The verses are complex and quirky, in typical Gaga style, and contrast well with the repetitiveness of the hooks.

The production of 'Roar' seems to fall short just a tiny little bit, for such a potential strong anthemic song of the late summer. It's one of those 'missing one little thing' narks, that you can't put your finger on, but I feel like the instrumental is just so close to being perfect. The vocals are a bit too heavily layered on the chorus, but apart from that... brilliant.

Whilst being bang on trend with the electronic sound and synths, Applause has a bit of originality to it, with a really good contrast and variation of midtempo and uptempo between the verse, prechorus and chorus. Gaga's vocals are a little retro and she doesn't really have a chance to belt out any lyrics, but there seems to be a restriction on the autotune but a nice bit of layering for effect.

'Roar' was met with a pretty general positive reception, until some people pointed out that the song sounded a lot like Sara Bareilles' 'Brave.' Although the similarities are there, they aren't as blatant as people have made out, and you can only see it if you look/hear for it. That said, it shot straight to the top of the iTunes charts in god knows how many countries, and was very instant with a lot of people. In the UK, we've only got it for pre-order at the moment, and even so it's top 40, so the girl's done good.

'Applause' seems to be more of a grower however, and wasn't so instant with a lot of people. Watching Twitter as it premiered around the world, a lot of fans/people I follow were underwhelmed by the song, mainly because of the hype surrounding it, and the fact it wasn't as boundary-pushing as we'd expect. Others were delighted that Gaga had gone back to a more 'The Fame' era sound, so swings and roundabouts ey?

So, overall, they both did pretty well but Lady Gaga came out on top... just. Which do you prefer and why?
2 comments on "#ROAR Vs. #Applause"
  1. I actually really don't like Katy's new song!