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Katy Perry’s “Swish Swish” Is Another Single That Makes Little Sense

CARSON, CA - MAY 13: Katy Perry performs onstage during 102.7 KIIS FM's 2017 Wango Tango at StubHub Center on May 13, 2017 in Carson, California. (Photo by Rich Fury/Getty Images)

I don’t want to see Katy Perry fail, but she sure is turning failure into a spectacle. Her latest attempt to reclaim her territory at the top of the pop charts is “Swish Swish,” which features Nicki Minaj and seems to everyone like an attempt to take a swipe at their mutual enemy Taylor Swift (more on this in a sec). “Swish Swish” follows “Bon Appetit,” a relative flop despite the fact that Perry spent the past two weeks doing literally anything—hiding under a table, working in a food truck, risking electrocutionbeing boiled alive—to promote it. Both were preceded by “Chained to the Rhythm,” a Top 5 hit that you probably already forgot about.

“Bon Appetit” isn’t good, but by comparison to “Swish Swish,” it’s at least thematically coherent. The new song is a random grab bag of Perry’s vocals, obnoxious voice-altering effects, and piano flourishes, all laid over a house-inflected beat from the British producer Duke Dumont that suspiciously resembles Minaj’s three-year-old “Truffle Butter.” Nicki’s verse, for what it’s worth, is the bright spot: She shouts out pink pool slides from the under-rapped-about brand Salvatore Ferragamo, name-checks Migos (who featured on “Bon Appetit”), and references her feud with Remy Ma (“silly rap beefs just give me more checks”). She even sings two of her lines, probably the maximum possible without totally showing up Perry on her own track.

Perry’s portion of the song, meanwhile, is a series of generic hashtag disses plucked from the recycling bin (“Can’t touch this,” “I stay winning”) and attempted basketball metaphors that don’t really hold up to scrutiny. “Swish, swish, bish,” she sings on the chorus. “Another one in the basket,” which is  how people talk about eggs, not basketballs, but okay. Truthfully, Perry sounds bored just going through motions. “Your game is tired,” she sings at one point, and really she might as well be referring to herself.

All of this menacing seems engineered to be perceived as an attack on her longtime nemesis Taylor Swift, whose name Perry remains unwilling to speak, except when pronounced “Swish.” The single art—Perry’s manicured hand, clutching a receipt for “1 Tea” from “Karma Coffee & Tea”—makes her intentions clear, recalling Swift’s well-deserved humbling via Kim Kardashian’s Snapchat but also putting a very fine point on Perry’s continued interpolation of slang borrowed from gay people. Swift loyalist and actress Ruby Rose took the bait on Twitter, reaming out a nameless pop star for making “purposeful poop” and dropping a flop single called “bomb a petit”:

I’ve got nothing to add, really, other than to say that those little scream samples on “Swish Swish” do kinda work, and that if a song as bad as “Bon Appetit” can start to grow on me, then maybe this one will, too. Hey, the rapper formerly known as Kitty Pryde is into it:

Maybe Nicki Minaj will be kind enough to send along some of those pool slides.