Thursday, June 6th, 2019

Katy Perry – Never Really Over

Isabel is damning with faint praise, but this IS the first time a Katy Perry single has broken [6.00]…


Isabel Cole: Easily the best single of Katy Perry’s career.

Katie Gill: I hate the fact that I really like this. It’s blatantly a Zedd produced song, ticking clock and all, and I spent the whole song thinking ‘wait, this reminds me of something, who does this remind me of’ (possibly Carly Rae Jepsen? I honestly have no idea, this bugged me for an entire weekend.) The lyrics are a whole lot of nothing and the vocals occasionally jump past singing into screaming. But that post-chorus is just SO MUCH FUN. It saves the song and elevates it from a 4 to a solid 7 in my book.

Hannah Jocelyn: Katy’s best song since her Teenage Dream ended. She’s never been that vulnerable in her music, even though her ballads are frequently good, but it works for her here. Then the chorus sucks out all the energy, bringing back the campfire pop that invaded the charts two years ago. Then that post-chorus happens, and suddenly Katy Perry has made the best comeback single of 2019 so far. It’s still a late-2010s pop production, meaning it can’t have any low-end depth and choruses must sound exactly the same each time, but the breathlessness of the melody and the weirdly poignant lyric overcomes those issues. (Still, the build-up to that post-chorus remains so tedious I rearranged the song to get to the proverbial fireworks factory sooner – it’s not perfect, and I’m no Zedd, though Matthew Koma indicates that I may have worked on this more than he did.) If nothing else, “Never Really Over” manages to justify Katy Perry’s return, arriving confidently as former peers like Miley Cyrus and Taylor Swift are on shaky ground.

Tobi Tella: I might be one of the few people in the world who liked “Chained To The Rhythm”, and thought it was a well-written and tasteful intro to an album that was anything but. This is a more conventional slice of pure pop throwing back to what Katy does best, and it works on every level. The sample injects lots of life into the song, and there are no “plastic bag” or “old coupon” level clunkers. Hopefully the next single has nothing to do with eating or basketball…

Julian Axelrod: Katy Perry’s best and worst moments come from desperation, when she’s so hopelessly despondent with desire you start to see the cracks in her fun-girl facade. So it’s no surprise that the only moment she really comes alive here is that breathless barrage of rationalization in the chorus, so thick with hope and dread she’s practically banging her head against the walls of the beat. But it is surprising she can conjure up that magic moment at all, especially when the sentiments surrounding it are limp and smeared like a greeting card left in a puddle. If nothing else, it’s comforting to know she still cares enough to try to reach those heights.

Jacob Sujin Kuppermann: The best Katy Perry songs (mainly “Waking Up In Vegas” and “Teenage Dream,” if I’m going to be honest) were great because of how they straddled the line between artificial and sincere. Of all of the high-concept pop stars of the turn of the decade, she was simultaneously the least confessional and the most honest– for every wink and invocation of classic pop tropery, there was the feeling that she really meant it, no matter how poorly the songs actually worked out. Even her really dire stuff (“Bon Appetit,” “Roar”) feels committed. “Never Really Over” succeeds principally on how much you buy Katy Perry as a genuine communicator. That’s partially because the rest is just Zedd doing “The Middle” again (which isn’t the worst thing in the world.) But it’s also about the songwriting itself, which is kind of about Orlando Bloom but really about what it’s like to be a pop star a decade and a half into a career that has waxed and waned and waxed again. It’s a tricky and artificial conceit– but that’s what she’s always done best.

William John: You could easily say that this is a stencil of a Dagny song that’s been coloured in well, and many will dismiss it as nothing much more. But there are further collaborators listed in the credits of “Never Really Over” worth mentioning – not only Zedd, whose alarm clock battery refuses to die, but also Hayley Warner (second place in Australian Idol, 2009), and Leah Haywood (contributor to a beloved Australian pop compilation of my youth, So Fresh: The Hits of Summer 2001). The claiming of responsibility for each of this song’s moving parts likely won’t happen unless we get another “Diary of a Song“-style exposé from somewhere, but it’s interesting to note that the neatest trick of the unlikely pop groupthink behind “Never Really Over” is that they’ve played to Katy Perry’s basic strengths – that is, keeping her away from those ungainly cadences she’s previously been so fond of, and allowing her to stretch her mouth around a middle eight built upon dramatic phrasing; “kissed goodbye” and “draw the line” are enunciated definitively, as though a ruler’s handstaff is being placed into the ground. Every Katy Perry song is a collection of platitudes sung without vibrato, but this time – and maybe for the first time since “Teenage Dream” – she’s made them sound believable.

Scott Mildenhall: It’s poetic, if not related, that in a year where one of the biggest new stars is making such play of dynamics, Katy Perry songs still have her so incessantly loud. Even while the choruses of this and “Love You Like That” are similarly flowing and flat, only the former falls foul through that familiar failing. The attempt at double tracking vocals as Dagny did is almost tragic, because between the two takes, the loud one is still loud. And although, at its core, this remains a good song with decent new lyrics, that is the problem: the loud one is still loud.

Alfred Soto: The chorus rush would be sweet and necessary if Zedd didn’t encourage Katy Perry to yell so loudly. If Robert Plant sang like a second lead guitar, Perry sings like a third sandblaster. 

Katherine St Asaph: Zedd’s dismissal of the non-Zedd parts of his songs has been noted lately, but the selling point of “Never Really Over” actually isn’t its vocalist. Almost literally any of Katy Perry’s peers (her Katy Peerys?) would be better on this, both in vocal quality and emoting: Carly Rae Jepsen, Pink, Demi Lovato, even Sabrina Carpenter or Madison Beer. It kind of feels like Katy is only here to lend name recognition to a midlist pop single at best.

Will Adams: It’s really odd to see so many highlight the chorus here as Katy’s “catchiest yet,” when that chorus comes directly from a song that’s not even two years old (contrast with something like “7 Rings”). The whole song, even, is a vocal swap away from being “Love You Like That (Zedd Remix)” (and given that Katy’s typical word-mangling voice is in full force here, it’d be a welcome reprieve). It’s still catchy, it’s still effervescent, and I’ll take this over anything from Witness, but it definitely bludgeons this impact of this comeback.

Reader average: [7.03] (27 votes)

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14 Responses to “Katy Perry – Never Really Over”

  1. Hey, if it worked for Desmond Child with “I You Were a Woman and I Was a Man” not being a hit and him just using the song again with Bon Jovi, then who am I to carp? i like both this and the Dagny tune. Definitely a return to form for Katy who I definitely like in general.

  2. don’t you feel like if you played the kidz bop versions of this and ME! to a time traveler from 2013 and asked them to guess which was taylor & which was katy, they would definitely get it wrong

  3. Isabel…………. you’re not wrong

  4. I like this, but its still nowhere near her best. I’d easily take Teenage Dream, Firework, Waking Up In Vegas, Hot and Cold, and Wide Awake over this.

  5. I like this, but it’s still nowhere near her best. I’d easily take Teenage Dream, Firework, Waking Up In Vegas, Hot and Cold, and Wide Awake over this.


  7. I didn’t mean to post that twice lol

  8. “But ‘Swish Swish’ was good”: Creeping critical inflation in an era of declining market expectations for media outside of immersive transmedia environments

  9. This is good but not on the level of Bon Appetit, which is still otherworldly

  10. Got Me Spread Like A Buffet. Bon A, Bon Appétit Baby. otherworldly

  11. Omg Copperman your version is so much better

  12. After you stump yr time traveler you should ask them who they think is going to be president!!

  13. The ongoing disrespect of “Walking on Air” WILL NOT stand, but “like a third sandblaster” also almost got me to choke on some fried rice.

    Not sure who once compared Rihanna’s voice to a steamroller (positively!) (maybe Julianne Escobedo Shepherd?) but there is a significant vocal quality (depth, and/or maybe timbre) she has that Katy does not that makes Rihanna songs listenable or interesting even when the song itself is actively not working. I cannot think of a Katy Perry song elevated by her vocal. This isn’t one.

  14. Bon Appétit and Walking on Air truthers are 100% my favorite kind of people.