There is no escape from the slow and inscrutable march of time. The passing of the seasons, the withering of these corporeal chains, the replacing of old malls with newer malls: All things must begin and so must end. Or, as Lord Byron put it, "Time! On whose arbitrary wing the hours must flag or fly/Whose tardy winter, fleeting spring, but drag or drive us on to die." Pretty much, Lord Byron, pretty much. And so let us take a moment for reflection, friends, for today we observe the end of an era: the era of Katy Perry's Teenage Dream.
In a way, actually, it really is sort of the end of an era, if only by virtue of the sheer amount of time Teenage Dream has been wearing out its cultural welcome. The album's release way back in 2010 seems like such a distant memory that it's hard to believe that Perry's last three singles were even on the same record as "California Gurls" — and, in fact, they weren't. They were, however, added to the repackaged and re-released Teenage Dream: The Complete Confection earlier this year, so now, you know, they are. But not even an era where you keep adding shit to the original era just to keep it going for a while longer can last forever, and so the closing of the Teenage Dream era with Perry's single "Wide Awake" (not one of the album's original tracks) has got the singer in an uncommonly philosophical mood.
In a surprisingly lengthy interview last week with MTV about the "Wide Awake" video — which in more ways than one resembles Spinal Tap's "Stonehenge" concept tour — Perry delved into the symbolic implications of what she called its "homage" to her earlier videos, because clearly, only Katy Perry would be capable of paying proper homage to Katy Perry. "It's kind of like the beginning and the end and all the different things in between and the obstacle and the maze," she told a visibly uncomfortable Sway Calloway before going on to note that the video represents "the labyrinth of my life."
Which is pretty deep for the end of an era that began with whipped cream spraying out of Perry's tits and Snoop Dogg in a candy-cane suit, but even at the risk of the instability that comes with too many dreams within dreams, Katy Perry goes even deeper: "Obviously, like, there's some kind of vague symbolism with me eating the strawberry and taking a bite of all that sweetness and ending up in the hospital."
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If there's anything remarkable about the soon-to-be-bygone era of Teenage Dream, it's that in this more general current era of pop music, Katy Perry has managed to stand out for being even more willfully stupid than most; it's like her stupidity is so potent it even rubs off on her collaborators. (Recall, if you will, Kanye West's most sapient moment from the single "E.T.," wherein he conjectures, "What's next, alien sex?") But that's all in the past now. If the close of this era is any indication, Katy Perry's next era is going to be one serious era.