'Prism': Songs to hear, others to avoid
Katy Perry's latest effort brings upbeat, falsetto-filled songs and clever collaborations with its best 10 tracks
Say what you want about Katy Perry, whose candy-coated lyrics of California summers have since passed as Prism, her latest record, which dropped early Tuesday. Known for her girl-next-door charm and irresistible giggling as whipped cream streams out of her bra, the sheer delight of listening to Perry lies in her entertainment factor. But Prism proves to be almost completely different. Shining with uplifting anthems and lyrics of survival, Perry performs every emotional aspect on the spectrum. From the vibrant, disco throwback of “Birthday” to the break-up ballads “Ghost” and “By the Grace of God,” Perry proves herself on this new album.
Before sitting down to digest the album, which is now available worldwide, know which songs stand out on the 16-song record, and which ones fall flat.
“Legendary Lovers” — Cleopatra meets Bollywood as harmonic vocals complement varying multicultural drumbeats. Fans of Perry might initially be apprehensive about “Legendary Lovers,” like Justin Timberlake’s fans were about “Don’t Hold the Wall.”
“Birthday” — Fine, fresh and fierce, Perry kills it on this track. Think bubble-gum pink coupled with the same party-time lyrics of “Last Friday Night.” The song brings high falsettos, strong synths and ’90s-style trumpet tunes together. Where Rihanna’s “Birthday Cake” is slow and sensual, “Birthday” cuts to the chase with bar-top-dancing lyrics like “Boy when you’re with me / I’ll give you a taste / Make it like your birthday every day.”
“Walking On Air” — If “Birthday” is a gooey, double-fudge brownie smothered with whipped cream and sprinkles, “Walking On Air” is a stale graham cracker with a slim layer of Nutella. The atmospheric falsettos and ’90s feel continue on this track, but with awkward Avicii riffing and an Abercrombie and Fitch-esque rhythm that don’t do it any justice.
“Unconditionally” — A follow-up to Perry’s 2010 hit single “Teenage Dream,” this song that’s bursting with Perry’s iconic vocal range and emotional love lyrics. Perry responds in countless interviews that “Unconditionally,” the second single off Prism, is one of her personal favorites from the record.
“Dark Horse” — Don’t expect a song co-written by EDM artist Sarah Hudson of Kill the Noise to not feature an artist as notorious as Juicy J. That’s right; the brilliant mind behind “Bandz A Make Her Dance” makes an appearance in “Dark Horse,” a devious, trap-style song with plenty of strip-teasing undertones. If “I Kissed a Girl” or “Peacock” haven’t shaken up Perry’s Pentecostal parents enough, this track is the sexual side they were afraid of and what her fans have been waiting for.
“This is How We Do” — A song with lyrics like “Getting our nails did / all Japanese-y” is equal parts eye-rolling and substanceless. Skip it.
“Ghost” — A sobering ballad that begins with the lyrics, “You sent a text / It’s like the wind changed your mind,” in reference to her devastating divorce from comedian Russell Brand. While Perry seems to reflect on this tragic time, the chorus picks up the mood with the same “I Will Survive” tone of “Part of Me.”
“By the Grace of God” — An honest track full of soft piano melodies and heart-wrenching lyrics, “By the Grace of God” makes damn sure you don’t feel sorry for Perry’s adversity. The song showcases her courageous spirit, as seen through the lyrics, “I thank my sister for keeping my head above the water / when the truth was like swallowing sand.”
“Spiritual” — With plenty of falsettos and dreamy undertones, “Spiritual” epitomizes the transcendent feel of Prism. Co-writing this song is Perry’s on-again, off-again love interest John Mayer, who gives the song a tone of euphoria as Perry holds onto a consistent rhythmic melody.
“It Takes Two” — Mayer makes an additional appearance on the deluxe edition of Prism in the form of deep electric guitar strumming as Perry belts, “Let me be first baby / to say I’m sorry.” Perry has a dynamic vocal range that’s seen on almost every track, but here she manages to take it a step further, giving it her all. “It Takes Two” is an atypical pop song full of substance, emotion and soul.
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