Two artists I used to not care for that much. Two artists that I now like. Two recent successful singles released. Two songs that are pretty much the same?
I have followed the career of Sara Bareilles since she hit it big back in 2007 with “Love Song”. Although I was not a big fan from the onset, I grew a greater appreciation for her when I watched her live in concert when she played here in Missoula in 2011. She put on a solid show and I gave her a favorable concert review right here on this blog. Since July of 2011, Bareilles has continued to improve as an artist and I must say I am now a legitimate fan.
I used to loathe Katy Perry. I disliked the disposable tracks she produced such as “I Kissed a Girl” and “Hot ‘N Cold” and at that time I hadn’t warmed up to her personality. When she did start rolling out some more meaningful music and right when I started to turn a little bit she went and married Russell Brand and I lost complete respect for her. But since the dissolve of that marriage and since her past three or four singles I must say that I enjoy Katy Perry. She has won me over.
In May of 2013, Sara Bareilles released “Brave”. In August of 2013, Katy Perry released “Roar”. At the time that Perry released her single, an “uproar” (pun intended) started over the supposed striking similarities between “Brave” and “Roar”. I admit it, I missed this whole controversy as I was working fourteen hour days getting ready for the Grizzly Athletics sports season. But the tension didn’t last long as Bareilles neglected to take issue with it, saying she didn’t think Perry stole her song. The issue died down for several months until just a couple days ago when Bareilles was asked again about the similarities between the two songs. This time she admitted that “I can’t say that I think that they don’t sound similar.” Several national outlets picked up on the interview that enabled me to catch wind of the controversy.
In my humble opinion, I don’t think the two songs sound really anything alike at all. Then again you could probably classify me as tone deaf but after listening to “Brave” for nine months and “Roar” for six months, I never once thought that the two songs sounded similar. I mean really, what part of the two songs sound alike? The intro? The verses? The hooks? Ummm, no. I don’t hear it. I just listened to both songs, trying to scrutinize everything, and I really couldn’t detect so much as a single similarity.
Of course Katy Perry came under heat also because both songs have a similar theme…okay, maybe the exact same theme. But seriously, if you look at all the songs out right now, several share the same themes (strong love, uncontrollable passion, devastating break ups, etc). Both “Brave” and “Roar” happen to address coming out of your shell and finding your true voice. Rip off by Katy Perry? Oh, please. That is probably the most generic song message ever. Think of any popular female artist who hasn’t recorded a song that deals with embracing your true self. Lady Gaga has “Born This Way,” Christina Aguilera has “Beautiful,” Kelly Clarkson has “Miss Independent,” and if I had time and didn’t have a BCS National Championship to watch I am sure I could rattle off many more. I think it is safe to say that if you don’t have one of these types of songs, you haven’t really arrived in your career yet.
But within the common theme, there are many differences between the two songs. First of all, the lyrics are totally different. Secondly, Sara Bareilles is addressing her song to someone else, Katy Perry is singing it as her own obstacle that she conquered. Additionally, “Brave” is more about speaking up for yourself while “Roar” is more about actions over words. To me, “Brave” centers more on an individual struggle while “Roar” deals more with overcoming the negative influence of someone else.
It goes without saying, Sara Bareilles and Katy Perry don’t need me fighting their battles for them. Five years ago I wouldn’t lift my finger to help them with any type of PR controversy they found themselves in. But as someone who values the work of both and as someone who sees the complete foolishness in the argument that Katy Perry ripped off Bareilles, I have to speak out. Let’s give credit to both women for making outstanding tracks that have inspired millions. Don’t Blink.