Well, the Prism campaign officially hit its first snag this weekend (second technically, if you count the Prism semi getting smashed by a drunk driver yesterday — #PrayForPrismTruck.)
As Kathy Beth Terry would likely say: A leak of “Roar” ended up online — she’s screwed. Oh well!
First, the obvious: “Roar” sounds exactly like Sara Bareilles‘ 2013 single, “Brave.” And not in a vaguely reminiscent, “Oh, this kind of sounds like…” sort of way — it’s in a “the production, melodies and meaning of this song are exactly the same” sort of way. Oops! It’s even more of a shameless lift than Lady Gaga‘s problematic “Born This Way” and its sonic similarities to Madonna‘s “Express Yourself.” (But, to be fair, “Brave” isn’t nearly as ubiquitous as “Express Yourself,” so if you hadn’t already heard “Brave” before this song, the general response has been something like: “Really? Let me listen. Oh, hmm. It does! Oh well.”)
Secondly, “Roar” isn’t quite as much of a marked sonic change in direction for the former Teenage Dream as those morbid, wig-burning video teasers have suggested: “Roar” sounds like the assured older sister to her last rousing self-empowerment anthem, “Firework.” This time around however, the message sounds more sincere and the production less candy-coated, but still — this ain’t no “Circle The Drain” Pt. II (as much as I’d hoped it would be.)
All that being said, “Roar” is still a pretty mighty beast.
With co-writing assistance from BFF/frenemy Bonnie McKee, the singer-songstress has carved out a solid, confidently soldiering perseverance anthem packed full of catchy melodies (“oh-oh-oh-oh-oh!“), Jeff Bhasker-like drum beats (recalling Natalia Kills‘ “Saturday Night”) and lyrics that alternate from eye-roll inducing (“I went from zero to my own hero!”) to genuinely uplifting.
The verses don’t offer a whole lot of variety, but that chorus is undeniably massive: “I’ve got the eye of the tiger / A fighter, dancing through the fire!” the pop princess bellows. That final chorus alone, preceded by a bridge that pounds its chest to thundering, fists-aloft proportions – is really something special.
“Roar” might not be the most immediate pop classic Katy’s ever served up (looking at you, “Teenage Dream”!), but with each passing replay (and I’ll be damned if “Roar” isn’t a solid looper), the song steadily grows from a meow into an almighty howl.
Welcome back, Katy.
“Roar” will be released on August 12. (iTunes)