Heartache is never convenient, but Katy Perry’s emotional malady may work in her favor.
The pop star bowed “Part of Me” at the Grammy Awards last night (Feb. 12), psyching out the audience at first with opening strains of “E.T.” She then unfurled into a wrenching, sour-faced bearer of bad news to a former lover, repeating her refrain “This is the part of me / That you’re never gonna ever take away from me” as she aggressively weaved her way around her band and symbolically struggled with wrist straps inside a person-sized see-through box. And you can tell things are rough, y’know, because there’s fire and her hair’s crimped.
This performance came on the heels of a week highlighted by Perry’s signed divorce papers — legally dunzo with her husband Russell Brand — on top of the announcement that her highly successful album “Teenage Dream” was getting the re-issue treatment. With the re-release comes the promise of three new songs, and “Part of Me” was selected to be the new single.
In the middle of 2011, Katy Perry tied Michael Jackson for the most No. 1 singles from the same album. I estimate by late winter of 2012, she will have set a new high-water mark.
Produced by Max Martin and Dr. Luke — longtime amplifiers of Perry’s pure pop — “Part of Me” has generic melancholy, dance charm, a memorable chorus and a timely back-story. While there may be speculation that the song was written because of Perry’s crumbled nuptials, the tune was originally written during the original “Teenage Dream” recording sessions, over 2009-2010.
The 27-year-old riffed off the updated damage during the Grammy ceremony performance, relishing in a recently revised line: “Keep your diamond ring / In fact, you can keep everything / Except for me.”
It reminds me of the debate over Beyonce’s “Single Ladies,” with the concept of empowerment through ownership and marriage. Through divorce, Perry is depicting the re-acquisition of herself, or is at least acknowledging a part that she never let her man have. The lyrics don’t do a good job of describing exactly what that “part” of her is, but its powerfully anthemic enough to qualify as a proper kiss-off and a top 40 radio hit on impact.
Compare the lyric video below to her performance. Anything you like about each?