"Teenage Dream", the second album by Cali icon Katy Perry, is full of hooks. Witness the two hits that have already been released from it, "California Girls" and "Teenage Dream", and you can't deny the immediacy of the choruses. 

I'm thinking the title track is probably even better, catchiness-wise, than the Snoop Dogg infested "Girls". When the chorus kicks in with a hair-band guitar riff, and Katy's voice soars, it's irresistable. It's like the song was written by a committee devoted to putting in just the right sounds and combinations of instruments to raise a pulse. 

And that's the problem here, especially when it comes to the rest of the record. It WAS written and arranged by a committee, albeit they're a committee of top writers and producers. And missing from that quorum .  .  . ? One Miss Katy Perry. Nowhere can I find a writing credit on any of the songs by the artist in question, although she is mentioned as "composer" in the list of nearly a hundred people that contributed to the album. I'm guessing that "composer" here means "vocal interpretation", because I see no clue that she actually had a hand in putting this whole thing together. 

You know what that makes her, right? 


Just slightly hipper. 

The album is frontloaded with the best of the tunes. Title track, followed by "Last Friday Night (TGIF)", which - while not exactly clever - at least is bouncy and features a short sax solo, followed by "California Girls". 

The rest of the record is all Pink mimicry run through the kinds of techno-trash loops that Lady Gaga rejected. It becomes obnoxious five tracks in with "Peacock", with a less-than-erudite sexual metaphor and a possession by Gwen Stefani's production team. 

And it gets worse with "Circle the Drain". Here's the song story : boyfriend does a lot of drugs, and girlfriend doesn't like it because she doesn't get enough sex. "I wanna be your lover, not your f***ing mother" is the line that is repeated ad infinitum. This girl is going to marry Russell Brand?

The execrable lyrical writing continues with "ET", in which the boyfriend is weird, and the girlfriend likes it. "Who Am I Living For?" is a Pink-esque serious (you can tell it's serious by the minor chords) ditty which I'm convinced is a Praise Jesus song in disguise. "Pearl" is also serious, and the storyline here is : bad boyfriend keeps inspired girl down so she can't blossom. Sample line : "She used to be a pearl/can't believe she's become a shell of herself". 

Without going into any more detail, the music consumer should know that here is an album that was designed to be popular and fun, and just like any music that was focus-grouped, it all comes off as lowest common denominator and bloodless. Nothing to see here. Move along. 

I give "Teenage Dream" a 3 on the England Swings scale of 1-10. 

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