Song: ‘Part Of Me’
Artist: Katy Perry
US chart peak: 1
Release date: February 13, 2012
Writers: Katy Perry, Lukasz Gottwald, Max Martin, Bonnie McKee
Producers: Dr Luke, Max Martin, Cirkut
Quintessential Max moment: The subtle repeated lines in the second verse
Video synopsis: Basically one big army recruitment video
It’s saying a lot about how clogged up ‘Teenage Dream’ is with undeniable hits that the undeniable hit ‘Part Of Me’ didn’t make it onto the album at first. Written with Bonnie McKee in early 2010 (Max and Dr Luke added additional lyrics), Perry felt like the defiant anthem didn’t really fit on the album for some reason. Obviously she had a swift change of heart once the label decided to re-package the album, adding it onto ‘The Complete Confection’ (gross) alongside the lovely ‘Wide Awake’ and the literally not very good ‘Dressin’ Up’.
‘Part Of Me’ was born out of a demo Perry had been working on but hadn’t quite nailed. She asked McKee to pop over and help out and according to a Rolling Stone piece that seems to have vanished from the internet, the latter worked on it all night writing lyrics and probably stressing about getting her first big break just right. Thankfully Perry loved what she’d done, apparently shouting “we’re buying you a car!” at McKee after the first three lines.
The song was then demoed at some point in 2010 and promptly leaked all over the place by the year’s end. The demo is interesting for two reasons: firstly, it sounds amazing and not very ‘demo-y’ at all, which is likely testament to Max’s working methods. Secondly, there’s an interesting lyric change from the demo to the final version that helped re-contextualise the song . Basically, when the song was written Perry had recently split from Travie ‘Travie’ McCoy, so it’s likely he was the inspiration behind the song’s general vibe of ‘you’ve taken my love, my time and my money, but you’re not having my soul etc’. By the time the song emerged in early 2012, however, Perry was in the middle of divorcing husband Russell Brand, who’d recently text her to say it was over. There’s one lyric change from the demo to the final version and that’s “You can keep the dog for me, I never liked him anyway” which then becomes “you can keep the diamond ring, it don’t mean nothing anyway”. Amazing.
It’s telling that the title was also used for the tour film thing, which itself tackles the Brand separation in that amazing/awful bit where she’s ravaged by sadness one minute and then all pasted on smiles the next. 😦
Here’s what Katy had to say about how the song sort of snuck up on her again as things started to shift in her personal life:
“I wrote ‘Part of Me’ two years ago and I always knew that ‘Part of Me’ was a special song, It feels like my life plays out with these songs. I feel like I’m in some kind of weird ‘Truman Show’ where I’m like, ‘Why is this single appropriate now and it wouldn’t have been appropriate then?’ It’s just so crazy.”
Obviously one other reason the song was eventually put out was that Perry was perhaps a little pissed that the backing track had basically been repurposed for Jessie J’s ultimately inferior ‘Domino’. Or maybe she just sensed it was going to be another massive fucking hit. It entered the US charts at Number One (the twentieth song to do so) and ‘shifted’ 2.8m copies in America alone.
Side note: the video was heavily criticised by Radiohead’s favourite author Naomi Wolf who accused it of being army propaganda and a “glorification of violence”. There’s a funny bit where she hacks at her very obvious wig in a loo and she looks like Monica from Friends that time Phoebe got confused between Dudley and Demi Moore.