Double Rainbow isn’t a “floor filler” record. There won’t be scores of EDM remixes and it may not even make top rotation on terrestrial radio.
It is, nevertheless, the most special cut on the album. Double Rainbow gracefully executes on its theme across both the song and production to produce a gem of a recording.
So why, you ask, is Double Rainbow so special?
The song has an original theme: you and me together are like a double rainbow — we’re unique, special, and happen very rarely. The lyrics tie up nicely to this theme through imagery of nature….”northern lights”, “lightning”, “sea”, “highest peak”, “pitter patter” (rain). This is no small feat because when using nature imagery, it is very easy for a song to come across as unoriginal or even downright “cheesy”. The writers of Double Rainbow dodged this bullet.
The vocal performance of the song is just as wonderful. I think from previous recordings, we know that Katy Perry can pull off a fun and/or bitchy pop voice. Double Rainbow (and consequently By The Grace of God) proves that she can pull off a ballad with all the vulnerability and emotion that it requires. Katy Perry’s selective use of ‘breathy voicing’ in the verses does a great job of communicating her vulnerability without being so overused that the impact is diluted.
What I love most about the vocals is the ‘da de da de DA’ adlibs. There is something very familiar about the adlibs but I can’t recall where else I might have heard them. Nevertheless, it feels like a very original use that contributes to the cinematic quality of the record….which leads quite nicely into…
the production, which has such a grand sense of space — it’s cinematic, making you “hear” the wide open spaces being described by all the natural phenomena in the lyrics.
The arrangement is original…this isn’t an over-used sample library being shared on a hard drive passed from producer to producer. It makes me think that the producer sat in a room with a bunch of engineers and said “let’s pool together all the instrumentation that reminds us of rainbows and prisms and make a song out of it.” Even if that isn’t what happened, it’s not a bad way to go about making a song with a very specific feel.
So in summary, it’s a beautiful record. It probably wasn’t the most popular on the album but, quite frankly, the Hall of Fame doesn’t care about popularity. And being a great song is only part of the equation.
The Hall of Fame is about records that are special. And a Double Rainbow is pretty darn special.