Not feeling it (and not for the reasons you think)

When Paradise Valley released this summer, I rediscovered everything I’ve loved about John Mayer and his music for a decade now – the approachable melodies, the insightful lyrics, the album story from first track to last.

I even appreciated Who You Love, the track co-written with Katy Perry, who also appears on the track. A big step for the guy who retreated to the wild west after tabloid-heavy hook-ups with the likes of Jessica Simpson. Even Taylor Swift only got background vocals on a Battle Studies track.

In the last several weeks, Mayer’s come out more boldly than ever about his relationship with Perry (which he addresses eloquently – as he does – in a recent radio interview I’d link to if I could find it again). I totally respect that he’s at a point where he can say, “This is who I’m with, this is what’s important to me, and I’m OK if you know that.” I also am totally cool with them as an item – what do I care, really? This isn’t about a fangirl’s jealousy. Far from it.

And yet.

And yet, with the debut of the track’s cover art, and now the music video, I find myself legitimately turned off by this one, and I’m not sure I can put my thumb on why exactly.

But let me try.

For one, it does come off as more than a bit of a ploy, a conveniently-timed pairing of two highly-visible pop stars with new albums. And given the theme of the song, if the two came out as anything other than googly-eyed in love with each other, the whole thing would reek of opportunism (more than it already does).

But more than that, I’m having a hard time buying KP as anything but a chameleon, a woman who completely changes her stripes based on who she’s with. (See Travie McCoy; Russell Brand; John Mayer) I have NO intention of coming down on a woman as intelligent, talented and beautiful as Perry (as I really do think she’s the real deal!), but I struggle with the message she may be inadvertently sending: be who you are, until you’re dating someone. Then be who fits best with him.

I think I’m responding so strongly to this shape-shifting because I’ve seen it in my own life – in myself, certainly, but in friends, too. Women who are otherwise strong, opinionated and ambitious willingly putting that identity aside based on who they’re dating. Women who’ve openly loathed professional football donning a pink jersey and checking in at the stadium on Sunday afternoon with their beau. That kinda thing.

Is it all just part of the Great Relationship Compromise, doing things and being someone you haven’t always been for the sake of being with someone? A cynical view of what’s ultimately just Self Evolution 101, as a woman comes into her own identity, a reflection of those closest to her? Maybe.

But it’s also something else. It could also be a slippery slope into losing one’s individual value, one’s own two feet to stand on.

I wish JM and KP well – I truly do. In their private lives. In the world of music videos and album promotion, however, I can do without.


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