Song: ‘Wide Awake’
Artist: Katy Perry
US chart peak: 2
Release date: May 22, 2012
Writers: Katy Perry, Lukasz Gottwald, Max Martin, Henry Walter, Bonnie McKee
Producers: Dr Luke, Cirkut
Quintessential Max moment: That lovely bridge bit hopefully
Video synopsis: Labyrinth x Alice In Wonderland + kooky perfume advert
Can I just start by saying that I don’t think I’ve ever seen the artwork for this single before and Jesus Christ it’s appalling. What is that font please? Why’s it so big? Why does it frame her head like that? Why is the font so wildly different from her name to the song’s title to the unnecessary blurb advertising the documentary? Actually why is that even on there in the first place? Just pop that stuff on a sticker (which I realise don’t work on an MP3, but that’s not my fault is it?).
So as the cover tells us, ‘Wide Awake’ was written for the Part Of Me documentary, a film that starts with Perry showing off the love of her life and ends with a heartbreaking divorce. That story arc forms the basis for this mid-paced mood piece, which talks of open hearts and falling hard and “how did I read the stars so wrong?”. Perry said this about the song when asked about it by MTV News. “This song in particular is a dose of reality. It’s kind of like coming down from a high. You’ve been on cloud nine for so long, and it can’t always be so sweet and sometimes you need to realise that, and you have to pick yourself up and move forward and face the facts of life and know that this is just a lesson you learn and you’re stronger because of it.”
That quote is essentially about eleven Hollywood cliches strung together but it’s also a fairy accurate summation of the song so I’ll let it slide. Also, structure fans, the song itself is quite interesting in terms of chord progressions etc. Basically, it just repeats the same 4-chord progression throughout the song, as does that other heart string plucker, ‘With Or Without You’ by U2.
I have to be honest and say ‘Wide Awake’ isn’t my favourite Katy Perry single. Nor is it one that I immediately run to when I need a dose of Max Martin brilliance. To be fair, Max didn’t have a hand in its production, but rather added a bit of Je ne sais pas pourquoi to the lyrics. Don’t get me wrong, I feel Perry’s pain and there are some nice bits – the bridge is lovely, and the echoey chorus thing works really well towards the end – it’s just a bit too one dimensional.
Listening to it now, however, this is definitely the pre-cursor to some of ‘Prism’’s softer and more introspective (cringey) moments. In fact, in the video she’s shown discarding the ‘Teenage Dream’ persona, much like she did in those amazing ‘Prism’ teaser trailer things THAT THEN CAME TO NOTHING AND DIDN’T REFLECT ‘PRISM’ AT ALL.
She was really inspired, clothes-wise, by Charli XCX back then, huh?