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Writer(s): Katy Perry, Lukasz Gottwald, Max Martin, Bonnie McKee, Henry Walter (see lyrics here)
First Charted: 8/11/2013
Peak: 12 US, 115 AC, 12 UK, 15 CN, 19AU (Click for codes to singles charts.)
Sales *: 9.0 US, 1.2 UK, 13.08 world (includes US + UK)
Radio Airplay *: 0.14
Video Airplay *: 2665.55
Streaming *: 200.00
* in millions
For the lead single for her Prism album, Katy Perry and her songwriting team crafted a message of empowerment, which many saw as a commentary on her failed marriage to Russell Brand. She told BBC Radio 1 “I wrote it because I was sick of keeping all these feelings inside me and not speaking up for myself.” SF Fellow co-writer Bonnie McKee described it as a “pick yourself up and dust yourself off and keep going” song. WK Max Martin, another of the songwriters, talked about seeing a video of the staff from a children’s hospital singing the song. “A song finds its way outside the studio and comes to really mean something to people. It’s not every time that I’m proud of a tune, but I am when it comes to a song like ‘Roar.’” SF
Musically, the song “features elements of arena rock” WK while the lyrics reference Muhammad Ali, Helen Reddy’s “I Am Woman,” and the “eye of the tiger” phrase from the 1982 movie Rocky III. The movie’s main character, Rocky Balboa, used the phrase as “a mantra of courage and determination.” SF The movie’s theme song, “Eye of the Tiger” by Survivor, topped the U.S. charts for six weeks.
MTV’s James Montgomery called it “one of the more perfect pop songs to come down the pipeline in quite a while.” WK There was controversy over the song’s similarities to Sara Bareilles’ “Brave.” McKee said she’d never heard the song and noted it was written before “Brave” even came out. SF Bareilles said “People got really excited about being angry about something…Katy is an old friend and I had no beef with her.” SF “If I’m not mad, I don’t know why anybody else is upset.” WK
“Roar” hit #1 in 15 countries, SF including the U.S., where it was her eighth #1 on the Billboard Hot 100. It was only the eleventh song to debut at #1 on the Canadian Hot 100 WK and Australia’s best-selling song of 2013. SF. It was certified for more than ten million sales in the U.S., making her the first act with three songs in that range. WK Perry became the first artist in history to have two videos garner one billion views on Vevo. WK It garnered Peoples’ Choice Awards for Favorite Music Video and Favorite Song. Perry opened her 2015 Super Bowl halftime show with the song and also performed it at the Democratic National Convention in 2016.
The video cast Perry as a kind of Sheena, Queen of the Jungle. The presence of exotic animals earned criticism from the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). Spokeswoman Merrilee Burke said that just having them on set exposed the animals to unnecessary stress. SF Perry responded with a letter from the American Humane Society affirming “that no animal was harmed in the making of this music video.” WK
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Note: Footnotes (raised letter codes) refer to sources frequently cited on the blog. Numbers following the letter code indicate page numbers. If the raised letter code is a link, it will go directly to the correct page instead of the home page of a website. You can find the sources and corresponding footnotes on the “Lists” page in the “Song Resources” section.