Do you remember not so long ago when Katy Perry let out a "Roar" so loud that it swiftly led to many people crying "copycat?" The song did sound awfully similar to Sara Bareilles' "Brave", which was released four months prior. Katy's praise of "Brave" upon its release makes the similarities all the more troubling.
The fact of the matter is, both songs became hits (Sara's only because of the comparisons to "Roar"). But one is certainly better than the other. And how better to decide than with another segment of Tommy Time's This or That series.
You probably know from your own radio listening experiences that "Roar" was the bigger hit. It was a worldwide #1, and with over 4 million in sales, it joins now ranks as one of the highest-selling singles of all time. Par for the course for Katy.
"Brave" peaked at #23 in the United States and only managed to enter the top ten in one country, Australia, where it peaked at #8. With a platinum certification, it has sold at least one million copies. As if you were surprised, this round goes to "Roar"!
Katy has never been a critical darling, so it's no surprise that "Roar" was met with lukewarm reviews. Critics mostly acknowledged the tune as a formidable pop song, but criticized its lyrical content and originality. (Let's not forget about those plagiarism accusations!)
"Brave" was lauded for bringing Sara's signature sound into a more mainstream-friendly song. Without a doubt, "Brave" wins this round!
Vocals and Lyrics
I would never call Katy Perry a vocalist, nor would I call her innovative or fresh. She's an expert at taking what's already working and mass-producing it. Musically, "Roar" is rather boring and generic. Lyrically, it's just a self-centered version of "Firework" riddled with cliches. In that rests the appeal of Katy Perry. And it works...
But when you compare it to "Brave", the winner is clear. Sara originally wrote the song, which encourages us to speak up, for her friend who was struggling with coming out. Since then, the song has been used as an anthem for women, cancer patients, and all sorts of "underdogs." In that way, it is also like "Firework", but Sara can actually sing. No matter what Katy Perry song you toss at it, "Brave" will win every time.
In this day and age, it's very difficult to outperform a Katy Perry song on the charts, which is why we should be thankful for sleeper hits like "Brave" that remind us sometimes there's a far superior version of the #1 song.