Wednesday, September 27th, 2017

Katy Perry ft. Nicki Minaj – Swish Swish

*types “sports” and “feuds” into subhead, gets 100000000 pageviews*

Mo Kim:Cartman is introduced to Katy Perry’s songwriting staff, who turn out to be a group of manatees. The staff, who live in a large tank, pick up “idea balls” from a large pile of them, each of which has a different animal, quote from direct-to-DVD sleeper hit Bring It On 4: The Bringing On Of The It, or what is what. The president decides to pull the new Katy Perry album before its release. Cartman feels victorious, but Taylor Swift shows up, saying that she just convinced the president to tack a 2014 Nicki Minaj verse he found in his Recycle Bin onto the end and release the damn song anyway.”

Thomas Inskeep: If you thought “Look What You Made Me Do” was petty, you haven’t heard nothin’ yet. Clumsy lyrics, a bad early ’90s house retread track, a guest verse so phoned-in that Minaj sounds bored doing it, and worst of all, Katy Perry herself, the saddest virus in pop music. Fortunately, it seems that pop fans have developed an immunity to her, based on the pathetic chart performance of her current album and its attendant singles. That sound you hear isn’t a “swish,” it’s Perry’s career circling the drain.

Ryo Miyauchi: Genius insists with all its investigative power that this hater-pop is personal, but Katy Perry throws limp jabs that rings anonymous as the dance beat behind her. At least Duke Dumont’s wheelhouse is more reliable to entertain.

Crystal Leww: How is it that Duke Dumont is credited as a producer for basically taking Maya Jane Coles and Fatboy Slim production and then somehow making it bad?

Katherine St Asaph:Walking on Air” was the best track on Prism, and I’m still not sure how Maya Jane Coles isn’t everywhere for how much she’s influenced pop, so the synthesis was bound to be both good and ascribed to no one involved. “Things have changed from true believers of the music to a more commercialized version of what used to be,” said Roland Clark about his infinitely sampled “I Get Deep,” so I’m sure he’s just thrilled about his words trickling up uncredited, via Fatboy Slim via Duke Dumont, to a Katy Perry song. (He’s not disowning it, at least.) If you’re very charitable you might see this as Duke Dumont trying, as all pop-house producers do, to prove he Knows His History, but perhaps not, given the aforementioned infinite samples and how Katy’s team uses it as a reaction GIF. But at least it belongs in a house track — unlike the hook (probably Starrah), which belongs in a track that draws out its menace, or the verses (probably Sarah Hudson; evidence), which belong in Pink’s “Can’t Take Me Home” and in the care of several more editors. (Editors one and two: “what the fuck?” Editor three: “And every bad lyric has nothing to do with basketball anyway. If you’re going to keep glomming onto sports because they’re now the monoculture that music is not, at least stick to the metaphor.” Managing editor: “STOP BEING MUSIC GEEKY.”) Everything suggests the kind of song that only coheres with the memes and fake context. Yet somehow it works: the unsweet tea to Meghan Trainor’s Arnold Palmer of “Me Too,” a machine that looks inexplicably polished.

Madeleine Lee: Finally, a pop single with a house beat that I don’t like! I mean, the beat is fine, but I can’t enjoy it over the lyrics, which are supposed to be fierce but just sound silly in their mix of bizarre analogies (my personal favourite: “a tiger…don’t need opinions from a shellfish”) and parroted clapback phrases. Even the robo-voice sample is bad — that long pause inserted before “what the fuck” is the sound of an air ball.

Nortey Dowuona: A thin, slipping bassline over flat drums. Katy sings blandly. Nicki spits a sharp-toothed verse that is there and then gone.

Frank Kogan: Swish kiss plish, wish the lyrics were different from this. Aside from them, the sound is weird and emphatic and grabby as if she were a Rick James protégé, and jolts me to happy attention. Of course Teena Marie, the Rick James protégé, would’ve run a thousand rings and wings and epicycles around this. But this track is great for using just a touch of Teena and then continuing to bear down on that little touch, getting all it can out of its little somersault.

Micha Cavaseno: The “dance like dubstep” line by Nicki is the perfect thing to overstate as to why both artists have been failing to hit their marks. In Perry’s case, there’s been an insistent attempt to change what’s working for her and mimic other people’s successes when, considering how the personality-bleached “Rise” was a home run for her, that’s the last thing she needed to do. And Minaj’s verse-by-numbers, complete with unnecessary sung outro and dustbin bars, feels like someone who’s been sleepwalking since 2012. It’s a bitter irony: someone desperate to change who never needed to, and someone too stubborn to recognize how antiquated they’ve become. Plus, this bad Duke Dumont hijack of Maya Jane Coles doesn’t even sound like anything plugged into what was hot at any particular time. From the melodies to the cloying attempt at a catchphrase, it feels so disconnected from any real attempt at a hit to the point you wonder why this was released as it was. Greater songs have been kept out of sight.

Will Adams: In the aftermath of Perry’s promo campaign for Witness, a fever dream of live streams and awkward celeb collabs in feeble support of Katy’s Great Awokening, “Swish Swish” doesn’t look so bad. On first glance it seemed as noxious as it read on paper: more references cherry picked from a position of privilege smooshed together with more reverse engineered memes, from Backpack Kid to the cameo sopped video. Yes, the song itself still isn’t great. There’s still too much reverb, and there’s still some unfortunate scansion and even more unfortunate use of the English language. But the sonic references make a difference; Maya Jane Coles’ continued influence on pop is a trend I warmly welcome, and if “I Get Deep” needed to get a reboot for the mid-late ’10s, keeping it tied to its house roots is a thoughtful choice. “Swish Swish” is at its best when the excess surrounding it is ignored.

Alfred Soto: Apparently this is an “anti-bullying” track! It’s not my job to learn intentions, not when “Swish Swish” is a mishmash of incongruous and unhappily cobbled samples, strange vocal choices, and an inapposite Nicki Minaj cameo.

Alex Clifton: Look, I tried to give this a point for Nicki Minaj singing “I already despise you” in the sweetest way, but I can’t do it. “Swish Swish” is the blandest Katy Perry song I’ve ever heard, which is really saying something. Much as I loathed “Bon Appetit,” at least that had, er, memorable moments. Nothing here stands out, a sin for a diss track: the beat is half-assed, the insults are weak (“you’re ’bout as cute as an old coupon expired” — what on earth does that mean, Katy?), and the delivery is emotionless. A song about being the baddest bitch on the block who kills people needs swagger, which has never been Perry’s strong point. Say what you will about Taylor Swift, but at least in “Look What You Made Me Do” she sounds icy and in charge. Perry doesn’t even have that going for her.

Stephen Eisermann: Nicki’s verse is a blast — quick-witted, fun, and catchy — and deserving of a much better song. But here, it’s just a silver lining on a dark ass cloud. Nothing about this song comes across as sincere — where Taylor’s vindictiveness comes from a place of actual anger, I just don’t think Katy cares enough to fight with her. And that’s totally fine, but there is no need to fake it! Also, the release of this song feels so weird considering she went on a reconciliation press tour earlier in this album cycle, no?

Hannah Jocelyn: Swap the two artists around, replace the video with literally anything else, and it’s much better – all the pieces are there, including the Duke Dumont-produced beat, but the “old coupon expired” lines aren’t iconic; they’re dumb. Same with the video, which tries to be a mess and succeeds too well. At least Nicki seems to know what is what. Katy, on the other hand, does not know what is what. She just uses dated memes in her already overblown video struts. What the heck?

Reader average: [3.71] (14 votes)

Vote: 0   1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10

14 Responses to “Katy Perry ft. Nicki Minaj – Swish Swish”

  1. thank you mo for this gift

  2. MO

  3. @everyone but frank and Katherine

  4. oddly, this is one of like three katy perry singles i like

  5. is pretty funny how TSJ are so obsessed about Katy’s music,
    more that 10 reviews for this song wow

  6. Stephen Eisermann

    LWYMMD 10/10
    SS 3/10


  7. I mean >10 reviews is somewhat common around here.

    Also you are correct in pointing out that those are the scores Stephen gave those songs.

  8. not to be groundbreaking but i think a lot of people blurbed this song is because katy perry is really famous

  9. actually the extra blurbers were paid by soros

  10. a bit curious as to whether the scores would have been different pre-video and pre-taylor comeback

  11. I actually don’t watch videos often and was hoping for another lukewarm motivational power ballad. She was really getting consistent with those y’know?

  12. it’s so odd to me that katy plugged her witness era as “purposeful pop” and then you get the one-two punch of bon appetit and this bitter diss track. nicki saves it for me though.

  13. “Walking on Air” fucking ruuuules.

  14. wow why is this video a fat joke why did christine sydelko agree to that