Katy Perry seems to divide opinion. There are some that think she writes throw-away music for high school kids and give her no credit. Some give her begrudging credit because one or two of those songs are catchy. Some have voiced an opinion on ‘I Kissed a Girl’ alone, sighting it as nothing more than a manipulative flirt with the gay audience a la Pink, Madonna and Britney.
Katy’s MTV Unplugged collection was released this month and it goes some way towards bridging the kissing Katy with Katy Hudson and her gospel acoustic roots. Now, whichever Katy you buy into, you cannot argue that the girl has very real talent and to write it off because of what you thought she was about would be a mistake.
Stand-out tracks on Unplugged include a gorgeously smooth re-working of that song. I Kissed a Girl starts slowed down, chilled out and soulful and even as the song speeds up to the more familiar version she still has your attention without all the hopping, jumping and not so much as an inflatable lipstick in sight. The girl can sing!
Hackensack (Fountains of Wayne cover) is now one of my favourites because Katy’s singing here is gorgeous, that added to the strings makes this a beautiful performance. Songs about leaving / returning home tug at the heartstrings wherever in the world you listen to them; Elderly Woman by Pearl Jam is another Given to Sound favourite.
Thinking of You is sweeping and before singing Lost, Katy talks about the sense of adventure you feel when you leave your home town for the big city and experience everything out in the big wide world. She belt’s this one out with so much soul in her voice that you start to wish more artists would sign up to unplug and show this level of intimacy.
Brick By Brick ends the collection, fittingly as Katy says “where I started”, with a voice and an acoustic guitar and that is what this collection is all about it seems. Reminding people that for all the glitz and the glamour that spring to mind when you think of Katy Perry live, when brought back to basics the girl can more than hold her own. Here you do hear every ‘nuance’ and for the most part her voice holds up.
The most exciting thing about this release aside from the music is the interview that comes with it. Katy herself says she doesn’t want to be thought of as just writing pointless pop, she wants people to hear the story in the music. She admits that some of the songs on One of the Boys are a bit young sounding, because they were written from “seventeen to twenty three…I’ll be twenty-five in October so I have a different perspective, you change a lot.”
All in all Katy Perry MTV Unplugged gives us the girl and the music; I hesitate to say no frills because Ms Perry is at her gorgeous best on this stage (and there is always room for glitter, Katy). It also gives us a bridge between the poptastic debut and whatever sounds are to come.
I think the phrase is highly anticipated second album.
Words © Simon A. Moult / MoultyMedia 2009. All rights reserved