“Cool for the Summer” leaked early yesterday, but today Lovato officially released it into the world. And while her fans appear happy to hear new music — Lovato last released an album more than two years ago — many of them are noting that the song sounds less like a Lovato song and much, much, much more like an early Perry song.
Thematically, “Summer” dips its toes into the same waters Perry’s “I Kissed a Girl” explored back in 2008. In “Summer”‘s pre-chorus, Lovato sings, “Got a taste for the cherry / I just need to take a bite.” Considering “I Kissed a Girl” is only seven years old, it will be impossible for listeners not to draw a comparison to Perry’s subtler “cherry Chapstick” line. In the chorus, Lovato continues her coy same-sex flirtation, proclaiming, “Take me down into your paradise / don’t be scared ‘cuz I’m your body type.” It’s just as exploitative as Perry’s song, though its dependence on terrible innuendo — at least Perry came right out and said it! — makes it somewhat more insufferable and ever-so-slightly offensive.
It speaks to the thoroughness of Lovato’s, uh, homage that, in addition to sounding like any number of Perry songs (but especially “I Kissed a Girl”), the song melodically echoes Jessie J‘s “Domino,” which itself featured an incredibly blatant aping of Perry’s style. In short, this song is such a ripoff of Perry’s work that it also rips off pre-existing ripoffs.
Still, “Summer” is not a bad song. It’s catchy. It’s playful. (Considering Lovato’s usual heavy-handedness, playful is more than welcome.) The Max Martin production is nice (if a little too noisy in parts). Normally, Lovato sounds strained and screechy in her music, but not here. She sounds relaxed and happy, confident even. She sounds like a superior pop star. Unfortunately, in this case, that superior pop star is not Lovato herself.