Friday, January 24th, 2014

Katy Perry ft. Juicy J – Dark Horse

“Dark star” more like


Will Adams: Basically, it’s the script of “E.T.” but flipped to make Katy Perry the alien/horse/witch in question but with more gears operating. There’s a cool interplay between the verses — seductive, snappy trap in which she promises some titillating fantasy — and the chorus — an anxious build, when Perry remembers the danger she may pose. Still, she leaves a lot to be desired as a vocalist, and Juicy J’s only noteworthy contribution is the should-I-be-disturbed-by-it-or-not Dahmer namedrop.

Daniel Montesinos-Donaghy: “Dark Horse” came into my world, while I was lost in seas of conversation during the Christmas holidays: soon, everyone will know who Juicy J is and I will no longer have to explain why he is famous. No longer will I have to explain who Three 6 Mafia are and why it’s great that they won the Oscar with a song called “It’s Hard Out Here For A Pimp”! No longer will I have to start chanting “Tear Da Club Up”! No more to explaining where Rihanna’s “Pour It Up” beat came from, or doing my terrible impression of his verse from JT’s “Chop Me Up”, or explain why their son’s Facebook status says “trippy” and why they should probably be worried. No more! I will just tell everyone to remember the okay-enough Katy Perry single where that dude makes a Dahmer joke and everyone will understand. Thank you, Capitol, for making my social interaction a notch less awkward! Now, make me not have to explain who E-40 is so often.

Alfred Soto: Katy Perry versus Juicy J more like.

Anthony Easton: There are like 15 singers that I would be more interested in singing this, and that kind of makes me sad — I miss the ease, the effortless skill that created such gossamer masterpieces as “Teenage Dream.” But that’s only one problem. Juicy J’s voice darkens and cheapens the rest of the song, Perry’s lyrics say nothing, the musical tension between the two is jarring, and Perry’s voice is so produced that it marks her previous skills. A couple of points for not being the usual inspirational twaddle. 

Patrick St. Michel: There’s a lot of weird stuff going on in “Dark Horse,” from the still-tough-to-swallow moment of hearing Juicy J open a Katy Perry song to the post-release achievement of this being the highest-charting song featuring a Jeffery Dahmer mention on Billboard (what could have been, Ke$ha…). Weirder still is how good the verses here are, Katy Perry tossing off the drama-chasing vocals of her last few singles in favor of a delivery that slivers alongside those synths. Hopefully someone will get all the kids listening to this some older Three Six Mafia cuts, but Juicy J is serviceable enough. Oh, but all the good gets undercut by a decision that actually makes sense from a lets-reach-all-the-demographics perspective. That chorus, fueled by Lumineers-shouts and an Avicii-core build, is so so out of place with the shadowy menace surrounding it. If only it had stuck with the strange combinations.

Katherine St Asaph: Katy Perry releasing “Walking on Air” instead of this, as teased by one of those ad campaigns disguised as focus groups disguised as innovative fan outreach, would’ve been a cool idea anywhere but the real world, where we get “E.T.” except less racist (and co-written by Sarah Hudson, for pop nerds.) Juicy J says “Katy Perry!” like he’s on a soundboard of someone dying inside, and the magic conceit is a cheap way to justify a grimoire’s worth of metaphor clutter — but all things considered, this could be a lot worse.

David Turner: I’m gonna get rid of my Poptimist card, at least for the year of 2013, because I missed all of the big pop albums so these third and fourth singles are brand new songs for me even months post-release. There isn’t much I love about this song, but I love the introduction. It sounds like it’s about become an euphoric 90s Trance track, but then becomes a “Trap (The white boy genre)” song. That 180 of playing with my musical emotions is worse than having my heart eaten out by Juicy J, which I’d hope he’d wear some grillz to protect his teeth if that were to happen. 

Brad Shoup: The pitched-to-kid sequencing is all that comes across at a diminished volume; I heard this in the car and thought I was listening to the future. Perry’s working the same figure, and it’s sorta hypnotic. Maybe she wanted a do-over on “E.T.” Juicy J’s doing some Coasters thing, tossing in a vintage Three 6 line ending. I really enjoy this, but I don’t believe a word of it.

Reader average: [7.76] (21 votes)

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