Katy Perry and Robyn aren’t so different after all. Honest.
Warning: I am very passionate about this, the following rant is not meant as a personal attack on any person.
I can’t buy this. I totally agree that female artists are automatically pitted against each other while male artists aren’t. I don’t think Katy Perry’s music is inherently “fake” because of anything about her character or her recording process. As for sexuality, other people have written about how Katy Perry plays to the virgin/whore dichotomy, which REALLY bothers me (not to mention the undermining of bisexuality as a real experience in “I Kissed A Girl”). Robyn owns her sexuality, expressing her desire for everything from causal sex (“Hang With Me”) to meaningful relationships (“Stars 4-Ever”), to her experience as the lonely victim of unrequited love (“Dancing On My Own”). But she is far from always being that girl, as songs like “Call Your Girlfriend” demonstrate. Robyn also refuses to adhere to status quo definitions of femininity while still writing songs largely about romantic relationships, whereas Katy Perry does NOTHING to alter repressive gender roles.
Ultimately, the reason why Robyn sounds “real” and Katy Perry sounds “fake” is that one of them is a product, expertly designed and packaged to sell to the world, and one of them, though I don’t doubt she has aspired to that level of stardom, is writing from a place of honesty. The seniments in Katy Perry’s songs don’t feel real because they’re not hers. They’re meant to be generic and appeal to the masses, which they do very well. This doesn’t mean that people can’t enjoy her music, but it’s understandable that Robyn’s fans feel a much more personal connection with her.
And then there’s that one of them makes me want to vomit every time I hear her and her songs are shit and one of them is a pop genius. But you know, no big deal.
You know what’s just as frustrating as the virgin/whore dichotomy Perry’s supposedly reinforcing? This hero/villain divide you (and so many critics/otherwise intelligent listeners) are creating here. And honestly, if you don’t see the cracks in Robyn’s songwriting/image, you’re not paying close enough attention.