Katy Perry: "Dark Horse (f/ Juicy J)"

from Prism (Capital; 2013)

By Chet Betz | 6 March 2014

What devilry is this? I really like a Katy Perry song.

It’s all about the beat on those verses. The song a paean to the snap-step, the melodic builds of the bridges and choruses in “Dark Horse” really just function as pleasing ways to revert back to that eerie synth arpeggio and trap beat. The chopped ‘n’ screwed vocal of “there’s no going back” that closes the hooks re-introduces the track’s ensnaring base, snapping snares and fat bass daring you not to move to it. Try listening to acoustic covers of this beast on Youtube; they’re equal parts ineffectual and pointless. “Dark Horse” succeeds because its production succeeds. It’s a pretty enough pop melody over a jam of a beat, trap-rap music that traps you by its guile and sonic impudence.

The reactions to Juicy J’s contribution to the track have been mixed but, for my part, I dig it. Maybe it helps that his entrance to the music video is about the coolest rapper pop-in I’ve seen in a minute and has an adorable early Outkast vibe to it. His verse itself, sure, it’s plain hip-pop, but the similes and metaphors are goofy fun, the double-time section is effective, and the closing “addicteeeeeddd…” gets my vote for best rap-segue-back-to-hook in ages. And there we are with that theme of reversion. The end of “Dark Horse” is blunt, just one more “there’s no going back” then silence, but tell me you don’t start snap-stepping again, your bones now synced with the beat that preceded. Aesthetically adroit, “Dark Horse” is a Katy Perry track too cool to be denied.