They had to save the best for last. It was Day 30 of the iTunes Festival, and who better to close it all out than the Queen of Pop herself, kitty cat Katy Perry. It goes without saying that the days of cotton candy Katy are now long past. She has opted now for a darker, rockier sound that she debuted at the iHeartMusic Festival last week. There were some things I wasn't totally crazy about, but it also was an abbreviated performance, and there was a lot that went into building it up. Take two went a lot better in my opinion, as they worked out some of the bugs from the iHeartMusic Festival performance, especially the "Roar" backing track which sounded MUCH better and a bit less droning than before.
She kicked off the show with "Walking on Air" a song which, only released the day before, has already split a lot of fans. Many love it, many hate it. It's a full-on dance track with rather repetitive lyrics, but I have to admit Katy's vocals are top-notch in it, and I'd love to hear a stripped-down version of it at some point. Her vocals in this live performance were some, if not the very best, that I've ever heard out of her. She followed it up with her new mash-up of Calfornia Gurls and Teenage Dream, which I must say, seems to work pretty well. Then, came the new version of "I Kissed a Girl" that she kicked off her iHeartMusic Festival set with, and I dare say this was an even better performance, musically and vocally.
"Dark Horse" I wasn't so thrilled with, and it had nothing to do with Katy's performance. Her vocals were excellent. It's just that "Dark Horse" doesn't feel complete without the rap breakdown. So Katy just had her dancers being "down and dirty" and the song just felt really incomplete. My overall disappointment with that song's performance dissipated because one of my all-time favorites (and the one that officially turned me into a KatyCat) "Part of Me" was next. It was one of her best live performances of the track to date.
After "Part of Me" was easily the most talked about part of the entire set. That, of course, was her debut of a very somber track called "By the Grace of God." Though I'd heard the audio of this performance before, watching the actual performance literally made me bawl my eyes out. It is one of her all-time best vocal performances, even with the fact that she was choking up towards the end of it. In stark contrast to the three songs "Roar," "Dark Horse," and "Walking on Air," that were released as promotional singles, "By the Grace of God" is the most personal song that Katy has ever written, and it admits that her divorce with Russell Brand hurt her far more deeply than she had ever previously wanted to admit. I'm telling you right now that this song is going to prevent a lot of untimely suicides. It's beautiful and honest and my respect for Katy has grown by leaps and bounds beyond what seems to be possible. She was already my favorite all-time performing artist. Now she's untouchable.
"Thanks for letting me stay!" she declared. I died.
After having one of the most solemn fan-boy moments of my life, she followed up "By the Grace" with my second all-time favorite Katy track, "Wide Awake." I will admit that her vocals were not quite as crisp on this one. She's never sang "Wide Awake" all that well live for whatever reason, despite an obvious remix that was made to make it work better with her natural voice. Of course, after singing "By the Grace of God" who COULD sing well?
Then again, Katy still had to sing "Firework" which is now performed a bit differently live. It starts out slow with Katy's vocals carrying it for the majority of the first half. It doesn't pick up until after the second verse and the dancing ensues. I really love how she builds it up now. It begins very somberly, then grows more optimistic, then explodes into a celebration. I never thought a performance of "Firework" could become such an emotional journey, but Katy's apparently perfected that!
Of course, the finale had to be "Roar," because that song is awesome. I will admit I'm not sure that Katy has the vocals down for the live performance yet, as this was probably her weakest vocal performance of the entire set, but I think she was pretty drained by this point with all the dancing she'd done already. But she closed it out fantastically, belting out the last few lines, "YOU'RE GONNA HEAR ME, ROAR!"
I hope Katy continues to "Roar" until the end of the world. She is the greatest thing in music right now, and nothing can touch her.
This just goes to show that even a pop icon is just as fragile as any of us, and we must be thankful that God has given us such a beautiful gift. She may not always be the greatest vocalist in the world, but her heart is always in it, and she CAN sing when she really tries, as she proved tonight.
Thank you, Katy. I'm roaring for you.
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