This mid-tempo number from Teenage Dream: The Complete Confection
follows directly from "Part of Me
" on the track listing. Whilst "Part" is a kiss-off to a former beau, "Wide Awake" finds Perry crooning about the feeling of empowerment she feels after finishing a relationship. "I'm wide awake, not losing any sleep/ I picked up every piece, and landed on my feet," she sings. Perry penned both songs with her frequent collaborator, Bonnie McKee
, whom she met at a thrift store when both were broke.
On the face of it, the lyrics appear to allude Perry's breakup with her husband Russell Brand. However, since "Part of Me" was recorded long before this re-release, it's hard to tell whether the British comedian is actually the intended target of this song.
When Max Martin worked up a demo of this song, he called it "No Matter What." But Martin has a Swedish accent and put some processing on his voice, so when Bonnie McKee heard it, she thought he was singing, "I'm wide awake," and wrote a lyric based on that. Martin told her to start over using "No Matter What" as a title, but then changed his mind and ran with McKee's idea.
Whilst the two other new tracks on Complete Confection were Teenage Dream holdovers, this is a completely new song, which Perry penned and recorded in a couple of days. The singer told MTV News that she wrote the song not only for the album, but also her Part Of Me concert film. "There were two songs that I had from Teenage Dream that I couldn't put on [the album] - 'Part of Me' and 'Dressin' Up' - and then I knew we were doing this re-release, so I was like, 'I've got to get into the studio, because I can't wait eight months to be able to put out this feeling that I'm feeling right now,' " she explained. "Because God knows it would take me another eight months to do another record. I couldn't do it on the fly; it just takes time to set up a record!
So, I had two days to write, and I wrote it with my regular crew - Dr. Luke and Max Martin and Bonnie McKee - and then I had two days to record, and it was literally like, I submitted the lyrics before I submitted the music, because it was like by the hair of my chinny-chin-chin that I put that song on the record," she continued. "But I have a film that's coming out in the summer, a concert documentary, behind-the-scenes, real in your face, and... not only did I write the song because I needed to flush that out of my system, but I wrote it for the film as well."
Perry penned the song specifically for her Katy Perry: Part of Me movie. "I was doing this movie and they asked me if I wanted to write an end-title song for the movie," she told MTV News, "and I was like, 'I know exactly what I want to say.' I was really kind of dying to write another song at that point. I didn't want to wait until I did a whole new record, and it's kind of the perfect last word of me at this moment."
Regarding her inspiration for the song and the video, Perry told MTV News, "I just wanted to tell a story about myself going through this journey, maybe sometimes trying to get out of the maze. There's good parts; there's bad parts. Of course, there has been a lot of things that went on last year that I had to get through and overcome. I think what probably kept me going is just the purity of my belief in music."
The video was directed by Lance Drake and features a fairy tale storyline, which references some of Perry's previous visuals. "It's kind of like the labyrinth of my life in the past two years," she explained to MTV News. "I just wanted to tell a story about myself kind of going through this journey, maybe sometimes trying to get out of the maze. There's good parts and bad parts."
A little girl helps Perry through the labyrinth. At the end of the clip, the child is identified as Katheryn (the younger Perry) by her license plate on her bike. Regarding the Lil Katy symbolism, Perry explained to MTV News: "I think what kept me going is the purity in my belief of music and my love for music; that's the younger version of me."
The part of the video in which the singer ends up in a wheelchair after eating a poisoned strawberry and being hounded by paparazzi was inspired by a very real moment from her California Dreams world tour, which is depicted in Perry's Part of Me documentary-concert film. "It wasn't always sugar on tour," she told MTV News. "Sometimes there were hard moments, and you see that in the movie. There's literally a moment where I have to drag myself onstage. I'm, like, bending over, very upset, trying not to make my false eyelashes come off," she said, adding, "I just kind of throw myself on this lift, which I got on every night for my show."
"Wide Awake" is a fusion of pop songwriting and contemporary electronic aesthetics. The song benefits from the "Katy Perry" effect - similar to the Gaga effect, Rihanna effect, or Britney effect - the singer's vocals are a brand unto their own which give the song a distinctive stamp. This superstar appeal is built on top of an extremely well-crafted song, which appeals to a mainstream audience through a straightforward progression, emotive lyrics, and a balladic performance. Additionally, the synthesized electronics give it a very slick contemporary feel, while structurally the song is familiar enough to be almost universally appealing. The song opens with Perry chanting, "I'm wide awake" - this repeats through all the verse sections of the songs (but not the chorus), serving as a simplistic hook which firmly lodges the name of the song in the memory. The song escalates into an expansive, swirling soundscape during the chorus, while remaining relatively subdued and simple during verse, giving "Wide Awake" an alternatively grandiose and personal feel. Listeners are kept engaged by strong, emotional lyrics and dynamic imagery that narrative Katy Perry's heartbreak, ultimately producing a track that is romantic, inspiring, and anthemic. All of this is results in a track that is both immediately engaging and emotionally stirring, while the straightforward songwriting combined with elaborate production creates a sonic experience that manages to be extremely catchy without ever feeling reduced or simplistic. This masterwork of contemporary pop songcraft helped the song resonate across audiences.