First, the a-POP-calypse was advancing. Then, it was averted . But now that Katy Perry and Lady Gaga have dropped singles on the same day — within 13 hours of each other — it’s probably time to go all “Doomsday Preppers” once again … because surely, the end is nigh.
Yet, 24 hours after the battle between “Roar” and “Applause” officially began, there have been no casualties, and fans are crawling out of their bunkers to discover that the pop landscape remains intact. It’s almost as if the supposed war between Katy and Gaga was nothing more than — gasp! — a storyline created solely by the media, and, more importantly, that no matter how deep our desire to declare a winner in this conflict, there probably won’t be one.
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That’s not entirely correct, mind you. There will be download figures to report, and first-week album sales to compare, and music videos to analyze … someone will come out on top. But that’s taking the short-sighted approach, focusing on a few rather unimportant aspects of a much larger picture: that the real winner in all this is you.
Because you are a fan of pop music. And for too long, pop music has been polite, with releases strategically staked months in to maximize profit margins and superstars performing elaborate footwork routines to avoid stepping on each other’s (well-manicured) toes. Things have gotten pretty boring . Turns out, a little head-to-head competition is all we needed. It’s unlikely that Katy heard Gaga’s new song before it hit the airwaves (and vice versa), but now that she has, well, who knows what she’ll do to answer it?
Like the Kendrick Lamar’s “Control” verses, or Kanye’s take-no-prisoners Yeezus, “Roar” and “Applause” will only serve as fuel … not just for Katy and Gaga, but Beyoncé and Britney and Rihanna too. You can’t be the best if you don’t think you already are the best, and now, the bar has been raised once again. It’s up to each artist to respond, and when they do, pop music will undoubtedly be pushed forward.
Shoot, Katy basically admitted to as much in an interview with Ryan Seacrest , saying, in essence, game on.
“I think it’s a really exciting time in music,” she said.” I’m excited to see what [Gaga's] record sounds like. I’m excited for a lot of people coming in the fourth quarter. I’m excited for the Beyoncé record when it comes. I’m excited for all of that. I’m such a fan of music.”
The fact that both songs premiered on the same day also speaks volumes about the state of pop music itself. In short: things are good. Any genre that can support two concurrent releases by the biggest stars on the planet is certainly in good shape, but consider just how different each of those releases — and artists — are: “Roar” goes for lyrical uplift, “Applause” hits with sonic heft. Katy’s song is an anthem of self-empowerment, Gaga’s is a kiss-off to her critics. Clean and crisp production versus dark, heavy aggression … and yet, they are both considered pop songs, from massive pop stars. Seems pop music is a pretty big tent indeed.
So, while the Little Monsters and the Katy Cats may have already chosen sides, it seems that they’re missing the point. Katy vs. Gaga isn’t some all-out-battle for pop supremacy; it’s a testament to the strength of the genre, and it can only bring good things. Which is why you should embrace this supposed conflict for what it really is: a truly momentous moment in pop music. No matter where your loyalties lie, you win. And that’s most certainly a good thing.