"Roar" is a song written by Katy Perry, Bonnie McKee, Dr. Luke, and Max Martin. The song serves as the lead single from Perry's third mainstream studio album, Prism. "Roar" was released on August 10, 2013. The song topped the US Billboard Hot 100, marking Perry's 8th number 1 song on the chart. It was registered onto Perry's BMI on August 31, 2013. A music video for "Roar" was released on September 5, 2013.
Background and Promotion
"Roar" was written and recorded in March 2013. The single cover for "Roar" was revealed on August 8, 2013, along with the iTunes Store UK-exclusive preorder of the single. Described as "Lisa Frank meets Drive", the cover contains a tiger print border around the picture of Perry wearing a blue Japanese silk sukajan jacket, with an image of a tiger printed on its back. The 'O' in the text that reads "Roar" is formed by two tigers, which Maeve Keirans from MTV Style thought to be a "great design concept for a ring".
Prior to unveiling "Roar", four video teasers were released online. The first teaser, titled "Burning Baby Blue", was released on August 2, 2013, featuring Perry burning a blue wig, which was believed to be signaling "a move to a more mature sound" for the singer. The second teaser, titled "The Third Coming", featured Perry smiling during a funeral and was released on August 6, 2013, featuring a group of mourners, gathered around a coffin "decorated with the pink and white pinwheels" found in the music video for "California Gurls". The third teaser ("From A Meow To A Roar") finds a white cat finding and feasting "upon a toy before emitting an out-of-character roar", and was released on August 7, 2013. At the end of the video, 5 seconds of "Roar" are presented. The final teaser ("Satin Cape") sees Perry wearing the "throwback" jacket found in the artwork of the single, entering a recording booth slowly.
On August 12, 2013, a lyric video for "Roar" was released onto VEVO and YouTube, which was directed/produced by Joe Humpay, Aya Tanimura, Tim Zimmer, and Tuan Le. It depicts Perry doing daily activities such as eating, using the toilet, working out, and taking a bath, and while she texts the lyrics on her iPhone to various people Emoji characters are used in place of certain words. Music producer Dillon Francis felt that the "Roar" lyric video copied his "Messages" video, as it also used the concept of instant messaging.
Musically, "Roar" is a synth-driven midtempo power pop song that contains elements of folk rock, arena rock, and glam rock. According to the sheet music published at Musicnotes.com, "Roar" is written in the key of B♭ major with a moderate tempo of 90 beats per minute. It follows a chord progression B♭–Cm–Gm–E♭, and Perry's vocals span from B♭3 to D5. Perry stated she wrote the song after undergoing therapy, saying she was "sick of keeping all these feelings inside and not speaking up for myself". Perry described the track as a song speaking about standing up for oneself.
Upon the release of "Roar", many accused Perry of copying Sara Bareilles' song "Brave". When Bareilles herself was asked about the controversy between the two songs, she responded: "Katy's a friend of mine and we've known each other a really long time", and was upset that there was a "negative spin on two artists that are choosing to share positive messages." She also mentioned she had known about "Roar" before its release and stated "If I'm not mad I don’t know why anybody else is upset". In response to the accusations, Dr. Luke, producer and co-writer of "Roar" tweeted on August 14, 2013: "Roar was written and recorded before Brave came out." In direct response to the attention "Brave" received as a result of the plagiarism accusations, Epic Records decided to promote "Brave" to the mainstream pop radio format.
Katy Perry closed the 2013 MTV Video Music Awards with "Roar" on August 25, 2013 in a special performance under the Brooklyn Bridge. She also performed the song on September 20, 2013 at iHeartRadio Music Festival along "Dark Horse" and a selection of songs from her previous records.
The music video for "Roar" was released on September 5, 2013 onto Perry's official VEVO account. A teaser for the video that predated the video's release date showed Perry swinging from a vine while singing the song.
The video starts off in a painted jungle, with the word 'Roar' flashing off the screen. The video then transforms into live action as the music starts. Katy stumbles off the plane as a disheveled flight attendant. As day turns to night, Katy walks with her boyfriend through the jungle. He then gets eaten by a tiger. Perry becomes scared and runs to a river, where she begins to wash her face. After an alligator pops out of the water, she stumbles back. She is then surrounded by pairs of glowing eyes. While singing the chorus, Katy looks at her reflection in the water, which is a tiger. The glowing eyes then float into the air to form the head of a tiger. The next day, Katy breaks a high heel into a spear, and catches a banana. Katy then takes a shower using an elephant's water, and brushes an alligator's teeth. Katy then stumbles into a cave, where a cave painting depicts a human trying to hunt a tiger. The tiger then scares the human off, as well as deflects the arrows thrown by the humans. Katy exits the cave and stands by an adjacent waterfall overlooking the jungle. She then swings from a vine and looks at the view. While singing the chorus, Katy begins to build a weapon. Katy attracts the attention of the tiger that ate her boyfriend, and she traps him behind a door. After scaring the tiger with her "roar," Katy sits on a throne made out of leaves surrounded by the jungle animals. In another scene, Katy is taking selfies with her monkey friend. She is also painting an elephant's toenails in another interlaced scene. After the song ends, Katy wakes up on the plane, and steps out into the jungle. The scene freezes, returns to a painted effect, and the music video ends.