Labelled both a misogynist and a racist following a disastrous interview with Playboy magazine, John Mayer spent the majority of 2011’s Born & Raised seeking redemption for his arrogance, utter lack of modesty and general douchebag behavior. Having since battled a serious throat condition which could have derailed his career even more than his foot-in-mouth syndrome, Mayer often appears equally humble on the Don Was-produced follow-up, Paradise Valley. But despite its early talk of settling down, a later bout of Taylor Swift-baiting, a duet with on/off girlfriend Katy Perry and several celebrations of the single lifestyle, Mr. Mayer’s LP6 suggests soft-rock’s biggest philanderer still thrives on being the centre of gossip magazines’ attention. Here’s a look at five of the album’s most tabloid-friendly lyrics.
Perhaps realizing that fame has turned him into someone who would claim that his manhood is a white supremacist, Mayer tries to reconnect with his more innocent youth on this open letter to a former teenage sweetheart. Wondering aloud whether his playboy reputation has changed the girl in question’s opinion of him, there’s a surprising sense of desperation here – both with his repeated requests for the answer and his subsequent admission of Facebook stalking: [LISTEN]
Despite previously dismissing former beau Taylor Swift’s bitter dissection of their brief relationship as “cheap songwriting” a hypocritical Mayer now resorts to similar tactics on this featherlight slice of folky-blues. Referencing both one of the serial monogamist’s recent hits and the sky-painting lyric from “Dear John,” “Paper Doll” is a far from subtle response. Considering a full-throttle character assassination of a national sweetheart twelve years his junior might not elicit much sympathy, Mayer instead offers a more objective, if somewhat more patronizing, reason for why their A-list partnership didn’t work out: [LISTEN]
The album’s most blatant publicity-seeking number sees Mayer join forces with his latest on/off Billboard chart-topping squeeze, Katy Perry, for a schmaltzy reflection on how ‘the one’ often turns out to be the person you least expect. If the former Mrs Russell Brand’s sickly-sweet riposte to the detractors who believe that Mayer will always be an obnoxious man-whore doesn’t convince that the pair are definitely back on, then her closing cutesy giggle certainly will: [LISTEN]
While the likes of JJ Cale cover “Call Me The Breeze” and “Badge and Gun” embrace Mayer’s drifter status, this Beatles-esque ballad suggests that life on the open highway isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Comparing himself to a “little birdie in a big old tree,” Mayer initially expresses remorse for the womanising behaviour that has led to his ‘wandering man’ predicament before reassuring himself that his ‘another notch on the bedpost’ approach will eventually lead to something more permanent: [LISTEN]
The tale of a sweet-hearted girl who appears to have only just discovered the concept of disappointment, this shuffling old-school country number will no doubt inspire several cursory glances down Mayer’s roll-call of celebrity conquests. Offering little in the way of clues as to who the naïve source of inspiration is, Mayer attempts to focus his efforts on providing some comforting words of wisdom but ultimately fails to hide his delight at the news that her idealistic view of the world has been shattered: [LISTEN]