Roar/Applause

Today might be one of the biggest days for pop music fans in quite some time as Katy Perry‘s new single Roar officially hit iTunes (after leaking on Saturday) and Lady Gaga‘s long-awaited Applause leaked (to hit iTunes tonight).

Applause was scheduled for next Monday with a high profile radio, digital and video release all on August 19. With songs by two of the biggest pop stars today getting released so close together, it’s inevitable that they will be pitted against each other to the glittery end.

Katy Perry - Roar

Katy Perry’s new single Roar

When I heard Roar had leaked on Saturday, I immediately and quickly hunted it down. My first thought was that I got a purposely mislabeled song and that maybe I was listening to an Avril Lavigne track. In the first verse, Katy sounds eerily similar to her.

Roar is a bouncy, fluffy, pop hit with a big booming chorus. While it’s not exactly a stretch for Katy as it fits in with her established sound, it still sounds current enough that it isn’t dated but nobody has ever thought of her as a trendsetter, no matter what her teaser videos suggested.

She’s also not known for her great lyrics. The second verse on Roar is pretty much a write-off as she sings “Now I’m floating like a butterfly/Stinging like a bee – I earned my stripes/I went from zero/To my own hero.” And that’s all. Roar is lazy songwriting at its best. The bridge (or lack thereof) is a complete letdown but she somewhat makes up for that with the buildup to the last chorus.

The most attention-grabbing aspect of Roar is the accusation that it copies Brave by Sara Bareilles. There are some slight similarities but I don’t think it’s the carbon copy it’s made out to be. Regardless of what happens, Roar will forever be associated with Brave a la Born This Way/Express Yourself.

Ultimately, I think Roar is a great pop song that will have a high burn rate because there’s little about it that makes it its own song. With Prism due out in two months, Katy will need to deliver something stronger if she wants to maintain the level of success she earned with Teenage Dream.

With the release of Roar:
who will gain Sara Bareilles
Who will lose anyone who actually expected anything different/new

Lady Gaga - Applause

Lady Gaga’s new single Applause

Like Roar, I had only heard one brief clip of Applause before hearing it in its entirety. Even still, I didn’t know what to expect. Gaga can be unpredictable as her Born This Way album indicated.

Applause is not as much of a stretch onward for Gaga as Born This Way the single was upon its release. It’s more of a straight-forward pop/dance song than I expected but it’s still pretty out there.

The production is key where the music and melody take the front seat while vocals and lyrics take the back, but Gaga has made sure to keep it all interesting. The layering of her vocals in the chorus, the thumping beat that breaks for the piano in the bridge, the reference to Koons, one of the artists she’s collaborating with on an upcoming project – or is she saying “kunst”, German for “art”, in the line “one second I’m a koons/then suddenly the koons is me.”

Applause isn’t necessarily indicative of what the rest of the album will sound like, which is another aspect that keeps Gaga interesting. Even for those who aren’t feeling this but who are still interested in what she has in store, Applause wouldn’t be an album-killer.

The single might be her least polarizing one since her first album. It isn’t going to win her any new fans – but it will unlikely lose her any either. It should please or appease Gaga’s fans while those who already hate her will hate the song anyway. Everybody wins!

With the release of Applause:
who will gain Little Monsters
Who will lose anyone wanting to accuse Lady Gaga of ripping off Madonna

The question remains: which song is better?

I’m not going to waste my time feeding that. I will say I don’t believe either song will outlive any of their bigger past hits. Roar isn’t as fun as California Girls nor will it be as classic as Firework or Teenage Dream while Applause isn’t as much of a moment as Born This Way or as epic as The Edge Of Glory. Both have delivered but both still have to live up to the hype they’ve created.

What do you think of Roar and Applause? Use the Disqus comments and share your thoughts!

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