Honest Reviews: PRISM by Katy Perry

This is the first album from Katy Perry that I fully enjoyed. One of the Boys was full of misses that played too hard on behaving so “na, na, na, na, na” to the opposite sex, but hope in that her music would match her honestly impactful vocal talent was achieved on her sophomore Teenage Dream, that time around minor skip it tracks. Prism, reflecting the many shades of happiness, regret, forgiveness, and faith in Perry’s experiences since her “I Kissed A Girl” days, takes the whole achievement of a concept album that she was closer to getting in Dream to a full effect on her third. Sincerely sounding assured in who she is as a woman, nary of any mentioning of being one in showbiz, critics of course wouldn’t let go of her likeness of cotton candy pop which rules the first half, bu it’s best that they also be fair in that Perry unleashing her vulnerability (which had already been largely played out in this gossip era media) is a fresh blueprint for the artist. Prism is not as fluffy as her music tends to exhibit and there is much to like here.

1. “Roar”

The first single off Prism that I know you’ve heard because it did so well on the charts, it somehow sounds better on record, like it’s been remastered. A great lead about independence and self-love and a non-arrogant ode to aspire less sulking and more #winning.

2. Legendary Lovers”

Almost grabbing you more than “Roar” just previously did, and it is clarion call to couples that celebrate their chemistry, and has a strong ABBA appeal to it.

3. “Birthday”

It’s getting 1976 in here. With disco beats that seem to be the audible version of glitter, Perry’s subtle sexual come-ons are a tad hilarious with lyrics that say “I know you like it sweet So you can have your cake .Give you something good to celebrate”. Otherwise, it’s another great pop track and Prism is going along seamlessly. And her voice sounds great. Now hand me my polyester suit and Candie’s shoes please.

4. “Walking on Air”

Something about the intro is soooooo early ’90s NYC nightclub, and it specifically reminds me of a track I just can’t remember. Not as enthralling as the first three tracks, but it’s damn happy, which looks to be the point of Prism so far. Look on the bright side, because there always is one.

5. “Unconditionally”

With an as calms as ocean waves intro, this is the first song close to a ballad, and she immediately goes into repeating the song’s title and yelping quite a lot that’s a bit much with the oceanic quality and her range. Not a fan of this one, but the bridge of “Open up your heart and let it begin” is convincing…

6. “Dark Horse”

Is it crunk time according to Perry’s watch? With a Juicy J cameo, this has potential to be a hot mess or a surprise great collabo. Is it good? It’s alright. Kind of a let-down. As a track it seems lost. Now let’s wait for his rap verse…awww, here it is. Not too bad. This is Juicy’s kind of territory. Even though he’s featured on a track with a super pop artist, Perry’s team still kept in mind his kingship on tracks that have a bubbling underground feel to them (hence, his hit, “Bandz A Make Her Dance”. A little underwhelming, but not bad.

7. “This Is How We Do”

Damn! Perry is all about the bumptious sounds! This uppity rebel yell is very primed for the end of high school set. A little juvenile if you’re over 25, but it will have you remembering those times of late nights and early mornings. Here’s to the college years.

8. “International Smile”

Not quite sure where this song is going or its intentions, but surely it’s an observant and admiring look at a girl that looks to have it all. A passport packed with stamps, endless style, and a charm to boot.  I don’t know why, but I feel like Rihanna was a slight inspiration for this. Sonically, it’s reaching to recall Daft Punk’s latest incarnation of disco-electronica from their LP Random Access Memories.

9. “Ghost”

Here it is. The track about her ex-husband, comedian Russell Brand. It begins with the now infamous confirmation that Brand ended the marriage with a text message to his then wife. Regarding her former marriage, her song “Wide Awake” was terrific, and “Ghost” goes deeper in revealing details of the crumblings. “Wide Awake” was more effective, but “Ghost” is nonetheless touching from her perspective. It ends with, “I see through you now”. It’s crazy to see how her records about him went from “Teenage Dream” to this.

10. “Love Me”

A song about self-love and not “negotiating with insecurities”; as a sequel to “Roar”, Perry, despite being her late ’20s, remains a teenage girl on the inside just looking for acceptance from within. It’s no wonder many young girls appreciate her. A good track about giving yourself a break, which sounds so appropriate after the sadness of “Ghost”.

11. “This Moment”

Back to the dancefloor, y’all.  Oh no. This is a ballad with an misleading intro that I thought called for platform heels. This song…ehhh…a little boring. The kind of track you got to give a few listens to like, though the line “Tomorrow is unspoken” is great and by the end, you do end up gratified by its hopeful outlook on tomorrow’s another day. It’s like her take on being willing to love again. Okay. Let me stop. This song is great and her most mature love song yet.

12. “Double Rainbow”

Rumored to be about her new beau John Mayer, it’s definitely for a special someone though I always find it odd when people say the back handed quote of “one person’s trash is another person’s treasure”. Anyone else think…ouch? Her voice is silk during the chorus that includes “like a double rainbow in the sky”. Oh, Katy, you’re going to make be cry!

13. “By the Grace of God”

The song title harkens to her background in the Christian music scene back when she was Katy Hudson, she reveals those dark days following her divorce from Brand with lyrics that picture her on the bathroom floor and hints of suicidal thoughts. A poignant moment for a pop star that’s often so happy-go-lucky, the title is apt. “I know that I’m enough and possible to love”, that’s followed by “I looked in the mirror and decided to stay”. Pretty tough material here.

14. “Spiritual”

Annie Lennox meets Sarah McLachlan for Perry on a track that she seemed to really create for her own pleasure, and a tribute to her getting back on her feet. She uses someone’s attraction and loving towards her as the scapegoat. It’s very different from the earlier tracks, and this is a side of her we might see further on in her career, that soft-rock sound.

15. “It Takes Two”

Almost there. The second to last track on Perry’s second half of Prism and her yellow brick road of letting go and moving forward. Here, she flips the script and responds apologetic in her part in difficult situations. It explores the old adage of every person has a side to a story and that sometimes we all just want to hear “sorry”. “It Takes Two” is interesting considering the victim’s victory themes of the songs from before.

16. “Choose Your Battles”

Here we go. The end of Prism. Is “Choose Your Battles” a better closer than “It Takes Two” could’ve been? Hmmmm. That’s tricky. Both have a similar idea of being an adult about uncomfortable issues while still not beating yourself too hard about it. The former may have the slight edge for its unexpected presence, but the construction of the latter is more challenging to her usual pop formula and is bit more headstrong.

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