Katy Perry – Prism

Katy Perry - Prism

Katy Perry’s album Prism, featuring Roar and Unconditionally

Prior to the release of Roar, the first single from Katy Perry‘s new album Prism, she released a series of short videos depicting what most presumed to be a change of direction in her sound. It was a great way to build hype and excitement leading up to the new album, yet also a sense of deception.

The first single Roar was released shortly after and was an immediate success. Instantly catchy ear candy made of Katy’s perfected brand of pop music that fit in just enough for today’s pop music landscape. It utilizes overdone themes and masters cliches but does it so effortlessly.

And therein lies the primary issue with Prism is that it almost feels too easy.

Katy and her small team of songwriters and producers, led by longtime collaborator and pop wizard Dr. Luke, rarely venture away from their comfort zone, sticking sometimes too close to their template of catchy hooks and dance pop beats.

Pop beats that are forced in to make songs more instant. Legendary Lovers is a great mid-tempo without the 4/4 beat thrown in; likewise, Ghost sounds promising until the heavy beat kicks in at the chorus, overpowering the song’s melancholy flavour.

Elsewhere, Birthday is this album’s Last Friday Night, using rollerblades-retro that feels too familiar; Unconditionally is a standard power ballad that is simple and relatable enough to catch on; and International Smile is her best chance at recreating the level of success that her hit Teenage Dream had. It’s the easiest song on the album to like without feeling ripped off.

And there’s the motive. Familiar, simple and easy. Few people expect or even want Katy to take risks or be too adventurous with her music but her fans, Katy Cats, probably deserve more credit.

It’s when she takes gets slightly adventurous that it pays off. Walking On Air is straight out of 90s house music as Katy tried to emulate songs like CeCe Peniston‘s Finally and 100% Pure Love by Crystal Waters.

Dark Horse has marginal hip-hop influences with its heavy bass line and beat. It’s not as demanding as E.T. but is more than passable as one of the album’s key tracks. Alternatively, Double Rainbow takes a softer approach as a singer/songwriter-styled track with its fantasy production that strikes because of its atmospheric sound.

The adventurous misstep comes with This Is How We Do, which is fun but even for Katy, it’s too juvenile. Her lack of enthusiasm on the record suggests she feels the same as she half-heartedly delivers lines about “gettin’ our nails did all Japanese-y” and “suckin’ real bad at Mariah Carey-oke.” It will get noticed, no doubt, for better or for worse.

It Takes Two, relegated to the deluxe edition of the album, is one of the strongest tracks on the set. It shines with as much emotion as Katy has offered so far as she accepts half the blame over a broken romance with a pop/rock piano and guitar combo.

Katy Perry has already proven almost a dozen times that she has mastered the makings of a pop hit on her last two albums, and she does it again on Prism. On the plus side, she gives what people expect from her. Fun, catchy, harmless pop songs. On the down side, she gives only what is expected.
Three stars

1. Roar
2. Legendary Lovers
3. Birthday
4. Walking On Air
5. Unconditionally
6. Dark Horse [featuring Juicy J]
7. This Is How We Do
8. International Smile
9. Ghost
10. Love Me
11. This Moment
12. Double Rainbow
13. By The Grace Of God
14. Spiritual*
15. It Takes Two*
16. Choose Your Battles*

* Deluxe Edition only


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