Shiny, gaudy, constructed entirely from plastic and neon – what could she possibly see in it?…
Rodney J. Greene: The results of my experiment to see how far into this I could get before agony set in: until “I lost my fake ID.”
Doug Robertson: While Katy’s off making a list of other things that she’s kissed and her opinions about doing so in a bid to try and replicate her first surge of success, her record label is left in the unenviable position of trying to keep the momentum going and maintain interest in an act whose appeal is about as flimsy as her backstory. Alas, as we reach the fourth single, even they seem to have given up and released this desperately uninspired slice of pop rock whose only real aim seems to be trying to latch on to the steady stream of royalties that acts who write vaguely Vegas themed songs receive from unimaginative producers of vaguely Vegas themed films.
Al Shipley: Katy Perry is a cruel reminder that whatever innovations in bad singing that guys from mall punk bands can bring into the world, there are girls that learned to sing from Alanis that can one-up them. Still, occasionally she gets a tune that even she can’t fuck up, and, though this may not be quite on the level of “Hot N Cold”, it’s decent enough that I’m not compelled to cover my ears the entire time. Maybe just on the verses.
Ian Mathers: Now if this was how she’d first come to prominence, I don’t think I’d hate Katy Perry; I don’t know why the power pop role on the charts has been ceded entirely to female pop stars instead of male bands (c.f. also Kelly Clarkson et al) but I’m a big fan of the change. This actually does a decent job of evoking the confusing fun of a weekend bender, where you lose track of your bank balance, shoes, stomach contents, and sanity – I’m not sure Vegas is the best place to do such a thing, but at least you’ve got company there, the relief of which is the other thing “Waking Up in Vegas” nails.
Jonathan Bradley: On previous singles “UR So Gay” and “I Kissed a Girl,” Katy Perry sang as if she had no idea what emotion she was meant to be expressing. She’s a frustrating pop singer in that despite her reasonably well-written tunes, she has little ability to create a fully-realized character in the space of three minutes. But as “Hot N Cold” acknowledged, Perry is adept with one role: the bitch. She’s a self-pitying, badgering harpy in “Waking Up in Vegas,” and if that has no chance of making her sympathetic, she does inspire empathy. Tired and emotional at the end of a too-long night in which she’s lost her fake ID, run out of money, and is reduced to passive-aggressive pouting, she still manages to snipe at her traveling companion, “Spare me your freakin’ dirty looks — don’t blame me.” But if Vegas is a real tough world, Perry is a real tough girl, and her hook soars with an inspired abandon. “Shut up and put your money where your mouth is,” is ostensibly directed at her man, but she delivers it like a self-motivational pep-talk, willing herself to make one last effort to salvage something from the mess in which she’s landed herself. The song is reminiscent of Bruce Springsteen’s “Atlantic City” in its grim insistence that the collapsing American Dream deserves one final, hopeless tilt, and even if all she’s after is a vacation to remember, even if the second verse is an abyss of meaningless cliché, the sparkling glory of her miserable implosion is something very marvellous indeed.
Alfred Soto: Stretching her vowels and yowling as if Avril Lavigne were Kate Bush, Katy Perry once again proves that when it comes to tonal accuracy and emotional precision, she remains the dumbest, most clueless singer in pop. A guy goes to Vegas to escape girls like Katy Perry. A Taylor Swift or Ashlee Simpson might wring some real pathos or humor from this worn scenario, but with Perry at the mic, “That’s what you get for waking up in Vegas” isn’t the comedown from a midsummer night’s dream, but the teasing of a shrew.
Edward Okulicz: Why couldn’t she have given this song to Kelly Clarkson? Her poor singing on the verses flits between annoying and sympathetic — a microcosm of her own appeal or otherwise — but the chorus is pure power pop gold. Would have been even better if she’d repeated it a few more times, like the way “Hot N Cold” bashed itself into your cranium.
Martin Kavka: This song frustrates me to no end. The production is aping a Kelly Clarkson wannabe, the lyrics are senseless, and Katy Perry is too manufactured to be able to construct a persona that leads this by-the-number song to remain in one’s head.
Alex Ostroff: Perry hooked Kelly Clarkson up with two good tracks for All I Ever Wanted, so I’m more disposed to taking a long shot than I was last summer, when the noxious ‘I Kissed a Girl’ was inescapable. The melody’s not half bad, but the fact remains: no matter how often Katy Perry whines and hiccups her way through a decent song, her voice will still grate, and she will remain a former CCR star whose ‘shocking’ and ‘provocative’ lyrics and image are calculated, attention-seeking and mildly titillating at best.