REVIEW! Not like the Movies: Part of Me

[above: me & my katy perry chapstick]

Part of Me: my first 3-D film and my first full-on encounter with Katy Perry, she of plastic skin, perfect hair (wigs) and ecstatic pop songs. A diary of her 2011-12 California Dreams tour interspersed with pre-fame Katy footage and interviews with her friends and staff, it’s pretty much what you’d expect from a pop star’s tour video… Except that this is Katy Perry and this is in the cinema and in alarming, bubbles-popping-from-the-screen 3-D. And then there’s the massive dramatic irony in the fact that we know that by the end of the tour she and Russell Brand will have divorced.

As someone who’s more of an observer than a proper fan of KP phenomenon, liking a few songs, her carefree silliness and devotion to ridiculous costumes, POM to me is the about the hard work, misery, self-denial, make-up and Twitter-addiction (this must be the first film I’ve seen with Twitter in too. Web two dot nought!) involved in modern day pop stardom. It’s reality TV but with very little reality – the only time the poor (not at all literally) girl gets to hang out with her two best friends is when they come to see her on the Japanese leg of her tour and they visit a weird kitten cafe and take pictures of each other on their iphones. And then of course there’s the little matter of where the hell her husband is (which I won’t go into here).

Katy Perry likes to think she’s  following in the trailblazing tradition of Madonna, but come on, we all know that she’s far too nice for that. This is PG where Madonna’s iconic tour flick In Bed with…* was rated 18. Madonna is and was cold and prickly, her armour on and guard up, but Katy’s warm, bright-eyed and never takes herself too seriously. Madonna’s embarrassed by her fans, but Katy’s got to love hers because they’re tweeting in her face every second or she’s meeting them and politely answering their questions at pre-concert meet&greets. Awkward! What they do have in common though is all that hardcore stuff: ambition, focus and determination.

There are so many mega popstars in the world right now and, cleverly, Katy’s invited most of them to be in the film and say how amazing she is. How on Earth did she get away with that? There’s Adele, Jessie J and (pop BFF) Rihanna all doing talking head, we heart Katy bits. Even Lady Gaga reluctantly makes a cameo in a scene at the American Music Awards where KP is collecting a special award for being the second artist ever to score five number ones off the same album, ‘I’m smiling under this mask, I’m so happy for you, really.’

From beginning to end we’re in Katy’s rainbow-crazy, Willy Wonka world and we’re constantly told this is her vision, this is what Katy always dreamed of, even way back when she had dirty hair and was in her angsty Alanis Morisette phase. I believe her, I really do, but I was surprised to discover in the technicolour-live segments that Katy really can sing. If she’s never compromised her ‘artistic vision’, then why are so many of her studio tracks so overproduced that she could almost be mistaken any one of her contemporaries? Cheryl might need a bit (a lot) of programming, but does Katy Perry? It doesn’t sound like it. Maybe it’s all part of the kittie-cartoon sheen or maybe that’s just the standard popstar vocal polish these days, but whatever it is, it’s good to see that there’s someone real underneath it all.

* The making of this post involved quite a lot of watching In Bed with Madonna on Youtube as I haven’t seen the film for a while. Bloody hell, HOW many times has Lady Gaga seen it? I wondered…

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Co-editor and co-founder of Pamflet //
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Co-editor and co-founder of Pamflet //

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