Talk about a smokin' singles scene: Katy Perry and Lady Gaga released new cuts last week that will battle for No. 1. But are they any good?
Katy Perry, "Roar": Yes, this single — written by five people, including hitmakers Dr. Luke and Max Martin — sounds a bit like Sara Bareilles' "Brave." But Perry's hook is a unique winner, complete with a reference to Survivor's '80s anthem "Eye of the Tiger" and vocal trickery on the chorus ("And you're gonna hear me roooaaRRR-oh-oh-oh"). Perry will probably follow this single from new album "Prism" (due Oct. 22) with something PG 13-naughty. After all, this is the woman who made whipped-cream bikini launchers a fashion statement. But "Roar" is a happy-happy G-rated blast aimed at a teen-strong fan base. Grade: B
Lady Gaga, "Applause": While this provocateur has been going Full Gaga to regain attention for her Nov. 11 album "Artpop," this is actually a safe-sounding, retro-minded synth banger, all Missing Persons rigidity and '80s New Wave chill. It's sonically pleasing enough, with Gaga again displaying her knack for dramatic pauses and crescendoes, but lyrically it disappoints. Her quest for approval, now tinged with a disingenuous aversion to criticism, comes off as tired: "I stand here waiting for you to bang the gong / To crash the critic saying, 'Is it right or is it wrong?' / If only fame had an IV, baby, could I bear / Being away from you; I found the vein, put it in here." But hey, that's Gaga's shtick. Weird on the outside, catchy on the inside. Grade: C+
Sean Daly, Tampa Bay Times