Pioneer Press music critic sparks ire of Katy Perry 'stans'

Ross Raihala was on the receiving end of a somewhat disproportionate reaction.
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In one corner, an army of Katy Perry "stans" who will defend their beloved to the hilt. In the other, a music reviewer for the Pioneer Press who had the temerity to question her brilliance.

The PiPress' Ross Raihala has this week been fielding torrents of abuse from hardcore fans of the singer, who performed as the headline act for KDWB's annual "Jingle Ball" at the Xcel Energy Center on Monday evening.

The cause of their ire was Raihala basically doing the job he's been doing for many . years in St. Paul, giving his opinion on the show put before him.

While noting that Perry "tries really hard" and "did get into the holiday spirit" at the Xcel, his review notes that her career has taken a bit of a downturn in recent years, as she's "struggled to land a hit single with anything close to the impact of her old bangers."

He also referred to her role on"the 'American Idol' reboot nobody is watching," while on Twitter said she "mangled" her hit song "Firework" with a new arrangement, though he was full of praise for her performances of "Roar" and "Teenage Dream."

With social media giving everyone and their mother the ability to express their view in any manner they see fit directly at the subject of their anger, Raihala found himself on the receiving end of some vitriol following his review.

Much of it was ridiculous to the point of hilarious, with one fan account informing him they'd contacted the PiPress calling for his firing.

But as ever with the internet, things took a dark turn, with one Twitter users referring to Raihala – who is gay – as a "HIV pig."

"I must admit I'm surprised by the reaction from Katy Perry fans, some of whom are taking really personal shots at me, attacking my age, weight and sexual orientation," he told BMTN.

Ross Raihala

Ross Raihala

"That almost never happens and it's particularly surprising coming from fans of a woman whose current Twitter bio reads 'Love. Light.'"

"I don't take any of this personally. But one fan called me 'HIV pig' and dozens of others clapped their approval. I must admit, I'm taken aback that a Katy Perry fan thinks HIV shaming is OK. I'm not HIV+, but I think it's really sickening that someone would use that accusation as a weapon."

It wasn't just Katy Perry fans Raihala irked, with fans of the boy band Why Don't We, whose members include Stillwater's Jonah Marais, unhappy that he referred to their version of "Feliz Navidad" as "terrible."

"I've had these Twitter wars with various fans over the years and they're usually amusing, even if the fans tend to say the same three or four things over and over again," Raihala said.

"This one is different, though. At this point, I've had thousands of Tweets sent my way, from both Katy Perry and Why Don't We fans. If I had a dollar for every tweet that called me a boomer, I'd have enough to take my partner out for dinner and drinks at Meritage tonight.

"When I woke up this morning, one of the first tweets I read called me 'Pig looking ass bitch.' What else can I do but laugh at stuff like that?"

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As for Perry, Raihala explained that the comments he made on Twitter and in his review was a fair reflection of the trajectory of her career from the heights she reached of 2010.

"She wasn't able to maintain that momentum and she's spent the last few years doing anything she can to remain relevant," he said. "It still blows my mind that she launched her last album Witness by spending four straight days live streaming her life on YouTube. It was embarrassing, especially for a star of her magnitude."

He's still a fan of Perry's earlier work, calling "Firework" one of the best pop songs of the century, but says her most recent singles "got zero interest beyond her most rabid fans."

"She's doing the Jingle Ball circuit this year solely because she's trying to hold on to whatever relationship she has with pop radio at this point," he said.

"Everything she's done over the past few years reeks of flop sweat."

The same level of anger doesn't seem to have been directed at the Star Tribune's music critic Jon Bream, whose review was more positive about Perry's performance, though he did refer to Why Don't We as a "bland boy band."

That said, he did get a little pushback on Twitter for referring to the 35-year-old Perry as an "old pro."

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