Katy Perry

Comment: I was thinking of lifeless pop songs now, is “The One That Got Away” by Katy Perry.

Girls love singing this at karaoke night, and it sounds like a simulacra of a song which was famous.

Part of the reason it sounds so like a “classic song” is the harmony is quite classic – the same one as first half of chorus of famous song by Queen “We are the Champions”.

Why is song so empty and lifeless, despite the beautiful harmony?

Music is not matching the meaning of the words she is trying to express – (“Steal your parents liquor and climb to the roof” – on such sad (I) to (iii) change) and she sings randomly sad phrases on the most optimistic harmonies (“I’d be losing you” (during the vi-IV-I).

For example at 0:56 – “the one that got away” she sings over the most spiritually positive harmony change (vi-IV)

at 2:40 (“and now I pay the price.. in another life”) singing over this euphoric (V-IV)

The subdominant (IV) chord in this harmonic progression after (iii-vi) is really beautiful and musically says something spiritual like “life is beautiful everything will be ok”. It’s the same as Beatle’s “Let it be let it be”. Or Bob Marley “No woman no cry”.

Meaning of words and harmony do not have to match exactly, but they at least need to have an interesting relationship.

Whereas here music undermines the words – but in an uninteresting way which makes her sound insincere and “lifeless”.

I think it’s clear Katy Perry doesn’t write the words as the same time as the music. She is tone-deaf to the meaning of the music that she sings over, even while the music itself is using cool harmonies.


Katy Perry is using some beautiful chord progressions, not bad melodies, (which is why she is popular) but then pasting lyrics in way which makes those lyrics sound insincere and lifeless.

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see Amazon.com). My work has been followed by the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (Alexander90210.com).
This entry was posted in Music. Bookmark the permalink.