Artist: Katy Perry
Release Date: June 09, 2017
5 months after the release of her lead single, Chained to the Rhythm, Katy Perry finally delivers her 4th album, “Witness,” to the masses. Beforehand, Katy has been throwing around “purposeful pop” to describe her yet to be released album. Though her biggest songs have touched upon self-empowerment, to everyone, Katy isn’t exactly the kind of artist who can be taken seriously due to her persona of being a California girl who is all about boys, party, and sex. The public turns to Katy to escape not exactly to ponder about the political and social landscape of today or ever. While Chained was a good start in this direction, lyrically and melodically, it wasn’t powerful enough to make people stop and see the other side of Perry. The follow up singles, Bon Appétit and Swish Swish, didn’t exactly help Katy either. Even though, Katy herself has mentioned that those two were about sexual and negative liberation respectively, to the people it was back to the usual ditzy girl. Just like that, the “purposeful pop” that Katy had built had crashed to the ground and the debris it left has cast an air of doubt on Witness.
Before diving deep into the album, I had hope that Katy will prove me wrong, but my expectations were nevertheless low. Bon Appétit has left a bitter taste in my mouth that Swish Swish had alleviate only slightly. Chained to the Rhythm, surprisingly, was still fresh to my mind and ears. Stepping into the waters of Witness, the title track was already fast cleansing my palate with its chill yet melancholic vibe. A perfect candidate for a single. If it was released right after Chained, the purposeful pop narrative that Katy was going for would have been kept intact. It wasn’t meddling with politics or social issues, however, it was still meaningful. Two Feminist anthems are also present on the album, Hey Hey Hey & Power. The first being a more upbeat pop track with an attitude. It had the same spunk that old Avril Lavigne had but possibly bolder. Power, on the other hand, we hear Katy demanding respect that she deserves on this dark soulful throwback track. There’s also a thin veil of sensuality that hangs over the song that is the making of the track’s sultry instrumentals. However, all the good things about Power is unfortunately outweighed by the ridiculousness of the drum fills. It was fine the first time it appeared during the intro, it was also fine when it appeared after the bridge but it overstayed its welcome. It was more comical than annoying. However, it wasn’t just the drum that ruined the song but also the production. The song sounds like it was playing on an old crackly speaker with sudden volume bursts. It’s unfortunate, since if you ignore those, Power could have been a solid track. From a production standpoint, Tsunami, is everything that Power tried to be. It is soulful, it is sleek, it is sexy. This breezy track with its catchy beats is the perfect summer nights soundtrack especially if you’re in that mood. Katy has certainly come a long way from writing sexual songs that middle schoolers giggle to like Peacock in “Teenage Dream” to this orgasmic number. Even Bon Appétit is a step up from those songs, but Tsunami is just up and beyond.
Another gem on the album is the spellbinding 5th track, Déjà Vu. A hypnotic 90s catwalk theme, this mind-numbingly infectious track tackles on the topic of being trapped in a relationship, in life, with no spontaneity whatsoever – the constant repetition of the mundane has driven one to insanity. While the song itself might seem like your regular Pop track, the droning melody and production that complements Déjà Vu’s lyrics does create a psychedelic experience. A song with no climax plus seemingly monotonous all around should always result in an uninspiring, lifeless, and boring song. However, that isn’t the case with Déjà Vu. If anything, for whatever reason, the monotony works and it’s what made the song special. From initial concept to the final product, it’s a perfectly executed track. On Roulette, Katy Perry goes arena pop with a catchy and boisterous synths akin to Europe’s The Final Countdown. No doubt this future club staple will get everyone moving to its beat, it’s just a matter of whether Katy and the radio are willing to let the song’s light burn brighter or they’ll dim it down.
“Witness” may not be as introspective as Katy had presented or wanted to present it to be, nonetheless, the album isn’t as vacuous as one expects it to be either. There are meaningful songs scattered throughout the album that touches on the subject of girl power to inanity of life to escapism. The major obstacle that this will have however is that it lacks the bang that her previous albums had – meaning there aren’t any instant hits. The album mostly consists of midtempo tracks which render themselves to sound all the same on the first listen. It’s cohesive, but it may sound monotonous if listened as a whole body of work rather than as individual tracks. That isn’t to say that the album doesn’t have possible hit songs, however, Katy and her team has to do a lot of hard work to make sure that those songs really latch onto people as fast and efficient as possible. Lyrically, it’s also a step up from her previous albums with clever lines here and there, but it still does contain clichés and quirky lines that could make one wince from the corniness of it all. Though, it wouldn’t be a Katy Perry album without those
Songs to Download: Déjà Vu, Tsunami, Roulette, Witness, Save as Draft
Delete: Mind Maze, Power, Bon Appétit