When I heard Katy Perry’s Migos-featuring single, “Bon Appétit,” I was too busy body rolling to join a lot of y’all in the latest online protest. Likewise, I took a “Don’t nobody bring me no bad news” stance when it came to reports about Perry making jokes about former President Barack Obama. In Saddle Tan Nixon’s America, I try to find as much joy as I can—even if I know it’s only temporary. For a while now, “Bon Appétit” has been one of those things (regardless of y’all letting it flop).
That said, Perry does have quite the track record when it comes to engaging in antics that are culturally insensitive (to say the least). Say the time Perry donned a kimono and heavily powdered her face for a 2013 American Music Awards performance. Or the year after that, when photos taken from the Prismatic Tour featured her flanked with faceless background dancers donning large earrings and humongous fake asses.
And recently, while backstage at Saturday Night Live, where Perry performed the aforementioned single, you see her posed with Migos looking more like the star of a remake of Malibu’s Most Wanted than a person with some sense.
Yet, for all the recent critiques of Perry—namely when it comes to accusations of cultural appropriation—I’m less bothered by Perry’s attempts at shooting for the blacker side of things in recent releases and more ireful about how goofy she looks onstage performing them.
Like, what the fuck is this, beloveds?
I liked Beetlejuice, too, but up to a point. You’re working with Migos, one of the biggest acts in music right now, and you have him sitting down staring at what looks like a crazy lady doing the most at Golden Corral before security escorts her from the premises? Why present what looks like a cry for help when you could have been offering some solid choreography instead?
Then there was the performance of Perry’s latest single, the seemingly Taylor Swift-dissing “Swish Swish.” Many were distracted by the now debunked rumors that Migos refused to perform with drag queens. While some folks were clocking into the outrage factory all for naught (there are drag queens around Migos at that silly dinner table, by the way), I took more issue with Perry using them in such a lazy way creatively. I would expect more from one of the century’s biggest pop acts than just bringing out drag queens and that very enthusiastic kid with questionable rhythm to disguise her awkward dancing.
It’s right to take issue with culture vultures in general, but there ought to be space when artists are free to try new things. However, don’t try something new if you’re not aiming to really make a sincere effort. And effort is not donning costumes and makeup that might get you cornered and popped by the rightly offended minority group. Effort is not mimicking rap poses you saw in the one issue of Word Up! magazine you managed to get a hold of in 1993. Effort is not those SNL performances and others that have followed.
Katy Perry is my age (32), which means she can remember a time when pop stars like Madonna, Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera had the decency to at least find the beat when onstage performing their R&B- and hip-hop-influenced tracks. And forgive me for complimenting him, legendary Janet Jackson, but Justin Timberlake really gave it his all with those first two albums in terms of the sound and how he presented it onstage.
I’m not a KatyCat (a term Perry uses to identify her most ardent fans) by any stretch of the imagination, but I do advise anyone who is trying something new to commit. Perry is out here in Zuul’s old haircut dancing like a full-out spoof. Who is helping her? A DVD of Darren’s Dance Grooves?
Of course the songs are tanking as a result of this pop-star malpractice. Why would anyone watch these performances and say, “Yeah, I want this”? No.
This is giving me Miley Cyrus all over again. I’m glad that annoying twit went back to the deplorables and left us alone. Katy, I will always love “Bon Appétit,” but if you’re not going to find some rhythm and a new creative director, you can go right back to those teenage dreams and pretend this never happened.
I was already a little distraught about the “No child left behind” rap and male R&B singers being more like spoken-word artists. Now even the white-girl pop stars are not bothering to go to dance class anymore. Tsk, tsk, bish.