Katy Perry - Prism Review
Posted by Tony Acero on 10.22.2013
Katy Perry's third studio album has come out after much hype! Does the album live up to the gold standard set by Perry, or is it just another run-of-the-mill pop album? 411's Tony Acero chimes in with his full review!
2. “Legendary Lovers”
4. “Walking On Air”
6. “Dark Horse” (feat. Juicy J)
7. “This Is How We Do”
8. “International Smile”
9. “Ghost” “Love Me”
10. “This Moment”
11. “Double Rainbow”
12. “By the Grace of God”
14. “It Takes Two”
15. “Choose Your Battles”
Katy Perry’s star power is undeniable and although there are many aspects of her music that could be considered the epitome of pop, she has been able to shake the stigma of the road that Spears took. With Teenage Dream, she became the first female to have five singles from one album top the Billboard charts. Her single “Roar” was her most purchased single yet. The girl is fire.
After a huge tour, a tumultuous break-up, and film made specifically about her, Katy Perry went back into the studio to make Prism. The build up was intense, with Katy releasing short videos of her destroying her previous image and insinuating a darker approach to her music. With the release of “Roar,” Katy promised an invigorated, motivated, and more mature album than previously, but was she able to do that, or is Prism simply more pop fodder?
Whether by accident or design, the album does truly play as a prism, beginning with a music that is pop above all else. “Roar” is the starter of a sixteen track album that gets progressively more introspective as it continues. I’d say she never hits the “darkness” that she may have alluded to by burning her blue wig, and burying her candy-covered outfit, but this may be for the best. The first half of the album comes off as Katy’s intent to experiment. “Legendary Lovers” has Katy doing a quick spit verse before bringing in a belly-dance inspired instrumental. The content is extremely base, but the music is oddly addicting. With “Birthday,” she goes cliché, using numerous double entendres that you’ve seen in any number of songs, yet again, it’s catchy. Her third single release, “Walking on Air” is next and it’s soft – pretty much what one would expect with a title such as it has.
If there is a direct divide on the album, it’s the totally awesome “Dark Horse” with Juicy J who – even with lyrics that are as uninspired as Beiber by the Great Wall – still manages to bring about a song that marks another spot on the album where Katy’s ability to stretch beyond her means works for her. The song is addictive and with the slightest bit of Trap, it’s a stand out, especially considering it’s sandwiched by two of the worst tracks on the album. The word unconditionally is far too long on its own, and in the song with the same name, we have Katy attempting to stretch it out even more. It’s not a bad song, but it seems to be rare misstep for Katy. “This is How We Do” is arguably the least “Katy Perry” track on the album and feels like a leftover from Miley’s album. It boasts of an LA life that comes off satirical, but only for a second, and even with some funny one-liners, it’s a song 13 year olds will play just to sing the chorus.
From “International Smile” on, we have a much tighter fitted album. Rather than getting darker, Katy gets more introspective, and it really works. It appears that halfway through the album, Katy decided she wanted to stop popping around and poured her heart out. From the pining “Love Me,” to the religious undertones of “Spiritual,” Katy looks to really dive into herself and isn’t afraid to let us all see. “By the Grace of God” and “It Takes Two” are powerful songs that hold much more weight than they may end up getting credit for, and there’s a lot to really hold onto during the second half.
When the album was being pumped up, there was a fear that Katy would go the Taylor Swift route and have “Russell Brand Bashing Balled #1” followed by fifteen more parts, but Katy took the high road and made the songs more universal, creating the ability to relate more with her instead of feel sorry for her. There are obvious odes to Brand and her previous struggles of the break-ups, even so far as to returning to her religious roots, but it never seems overbearing or overly specific, and instead adds to an album that progressively gets better.
Production-wise, Katy’s team isn’t afraid to experiment with sounds reminiscent of Madonna, Phil Collins, Daft Punk, the trap genre, and even Elton John all being noticed upon listening. Perhaps most surprising is how well Katy adapts to the experimentation. Rarely does she seem out of place (See: “This Is How We Do”), and unlike Miley Cyrus, Katy Perry uses her voice to enhance the music, not the other way around. If there was one major omission from the album, it would have to be a guitar-laden track. With all of the experimentation going on, Katy seemed to forget to pick up a guitar, and although it’s simply a personal preference, I would have liked to have one.
The 411: Katy Perry doesn’t so much go from light to dark as she goes from broad to specific over the course of the album. In a world where an album is sometimes made just to give the masses something shiny to chew on and radio stations to spin, Katy holds the balance of her album really well. For every song that is deemed radio-worthy there are two others that actually speak to the listener. It’s no easy task, but Katy seems to handle it really well, and for that, she gets my applause.