Reporting Jillian Mapes
Within the span of a couple days, two of pop’s biggest female stars had their highly anticipated new singles leaked ahead of schedule. In turn, both artists released the singles to radio early. And if that weren’t enough, both songs have one-word, active-verb titles that scream, “make me your anthem.”
All of this is to say, it’s hard not to compare “Applause” and “Roar,” the new singles from Lady Gaga and Katy Perry, respectively. The two stars each strive for different messages in their music, but given that they’re both following a similar record cycle this summer and fall, it sort of naturally becomes a competition. Who will sell more and chart higher has yet to be seen. All we have right now are the songs. So we’re going to go ahead and ask the question: Whose single is better?
“It’s all about the music and I really agree with her message,” Perry said of Gaga this morning in an interview with Los Angeles’ 97.1 AMP (a Radio.com station). “I’ve always been a fan of hers and I like to see her evolution. I think that it’s also nice that we’re all in the same kind of cycle together because it really keeps us both on our toes…It’s not that we feel competition, it’s that we keep each other on each other’s toes and it’s a healthy thing.”
“Applause” focuses on fan appreciation, but it also gets a bit specific. Gaga admits that she “lives for the applause” while simultaneously attacking critics, dissing nostalgia, name-checking Jeff Koons and alluding to her time out of the spotlight during her recovery from hip surgery. The song kicks off with slightly abrasive vocals and beats before the chorus crescendos into heavy EDM territory begging to be clapped along to… until, oh wait, there’s the actual hand-clapping. “Applause” is the anthem for wannabe performers and those who crave the spotlight.
Listen to “Applause” below.
Meanwhile, Perry portrays a more universal message, the sort of anthem for anyone who’s been gutted by something bigger than themselves and found the strength to move forward. “I got they eye of the tiger, the fire, dancing through the fire/’Cause I am a champion and you’re going to hear me roar/Louder than a lion/’Cause I am a champion and you’re gonna hear me roar,” she sings on the chorus. So yeah, maybe it’s a little cheesy, but it’s clear she’s going for inspiring language.
Musically, the song is not as dance-ready as Perry has gone in the past, angling more toward Florence & the Machine than anything remotely EDM. The shift in direction is not all that surprising, given Perry’s acoustic-slinging, Warped Tour-playing past, not to mention the expectations of her future. Many are expecting Prism to be a turning point album for Perry, in which she’ll open up emotionally and explore at least slightly musically.
“It’s a record about self-reflection and self-empowerment and learning to deal with the curve balls that life throws you every single day and how I’m going to get through them,” Perry said of Prism in the aforementioned AMP Radio interview.
Listen to “Roar” below.
Needless to say, the Hot 100 in the upcoming weeks will be a fun little fight to the death.