This is an argument for whether or not Katy Perry’s “Rise” sucks. The question of something sucking derives from a distaste, a general feeling of ill-repute and something that creates undesirable feelings within you. A breakup, getting beat in your favorite game by far inferior competition, the 1986 New York Mets, the 1997 Utah Jazz, the St. Louis Cardinals — all of these things suck. In fact, you could correlate a number of the most terrible, flat-out unreasonable things in your lifetime with any of these things.
Sadly, Katy Perry’s “Rise” doesn’t do any of that. Which, I don’t know, is a shame? A letdown? A 3:20-minute-long shrug upon the human conscience?
I don’t know what happened between Katy Perry circa “Roar,” with all of its man-eating, Daniel-in-the-Lion’s-Den allegories (and subtle nods to Sara Bareilles's "Brave”), and now. I don’t know if she got off that mechanical lion at the Super Bowl two years ago and turned back into Katy Hudson. I don’t know if she’s been welcomed back at Bible study, put her whipped-cream-shooting bras away and is secretly selling Fig Newtons to pay for someone’s Netflix subscription because she thinks trading passwords is illegal. Something happened between “Roar” and “Rise,” and I need to know exactly what it was. Cover Art: Katy Perry submerged in water with just her eyes and forehead being visible. It's super-America's Next Top Model.
Cover Art: Katy Perry submerged in water with just her eyes and forehead being visible. It's super-America's Next Top Model.
Context: Perry’s “Rise” also doubles as the Team USA theme song for the 2016 Rio Olympics. You know, the Olympics with the Zika virus; Russia possibly being banned for doping; the Zika virus; water filled with “super bacteria”; the Zika virus; a place called Crackland; Harrison Barnes; a police force that tells people as soon as they enter the country, “Welcome to Hell”; the revelation that there's an IOC member named Dick Pound; and probably more Zika. Yeah, Katy Perry had to write a song for the worst built-up Olympics of all time.
You would think somebody at the U.S. Olympic Committee saw what was going on in Rio and told Katy Perry to write something happy. Something inspirational. Something that Simone Biles can beat the entire world to and claim Texas dominance. But...no. Nothing. We get a limp Olympic theme song paired with an Olympics that sounds like something out of Mad Max.
Note that the producer of “Rise” is Max Martin, pop music’s current version of a mad scientist; by his sheer addition, he should make something work. The two of them created the largest of Katy Perry's inspirational pop tunes in “Roar" — you remember, the more adult version of “Fireworks,” don’t you? For a lot of people, “Roar” was Nolan Ryan beating the shit out of Robin Ventura at the mound. This? This is Tim Tebow giving you every bit of an inspirational speech read off a Teleprompter with some other elements thrown in. It just doesn’t do anything to move the needle.
Is There A Video for It? Yes, and it's been viewed more than 15 million times since last week. It involves a ton of clips from the U.S. National Team doing athletic things. In other words, it should be dope, but it’s not. You know how you go to a middle school basketball game and somebody is blaring “Eye of the Tiger” or “We Will Rock You” by Queen? And one team is pumped and is milly-rocking and ready to destroy the other team? Well, “Rise” is the antithesis of that. It’s a Whitesnake song played at a pep rally for a school you know is going to get killed 62-0.
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Couldn’t This Be a Christian Rap Song? Actually, it could. I mean, “still I rise” is not only Jesus after the Crucifixion, it’s also Maya Angelou. “When you think the final nail is in; think again/ Don’t be surprised, I will still rise” is almost like Jesus telling the Romans his own version of “Hit ’em Up." Except...you know, he wouldn’t curse anybody out or claim he slept with somebody's wife. Let’s just move on.
Lines Probably Written By J.J. Watt? 1: “Victory is in your veins." It should be printed on a ton of Reebok T-shirts and sold in bulk at Academy.
Was This Even Meant for the Olympics? No. Katy Perry actually wanted to unite the world with “Rise,” given all the terrible things going on. She may have been referring to The Hunger Games and how certain districts lived in severe poverty compared to the rest. “I won’t just conform, no matter how you shake my core” doesn’t feel like an athlete-versus-doubt type of thing. It’s human being versus oppression. Is missing a hurdle similar to that? Not really. A jumper? Nope. A shot put hitting somebody in the face? Not at all (but God, that would be dope to see).
Does This Song Suck? It does. But not in the traditional sense of its being terrible. It just doesn’t fit the template of inspirational, fiery and get America ready to beat the rest of the world in sporting competitions. It just doesn’t fit the Olympics. Now, in terms of beating world issues? “Rise” may have something there.