Katy Perry’s Witness: if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it

Reinvention.

This seems to be an ongoing theme for music this year, especially among my favourite artists. As I sit here writing this post, I’m listening to Katy Perry’s Teenage Dream album, which broke records when it was released for having the most number one’s in the Billboard Charts for any recording artist. I listen to this album and I’m happy. That should come as no surprise I suppose because Katy Perry recorded this when she was in a whirlwind romance with Russell Brand. Teenage Dream, the song, is still one of my go to pick-me-up’s and its on most of my Spotify playlists.

Witness is no Teenage Dream. In fact, when I listened to it I didn’t feel like I was listening to a Katy Perry record. It felt flat, and angry and it tried too hard to be political and serious. But come on, who can take an album seriously if you’ve got a song entitled Bon Appetit basically inviting someone to partake in a buffet of your body or something equally ridiculous?

Witness

“We’re all just looking for connections, yeah we all want to be seen,
I’m looking for someone who speaks my language, someone to ride this ride with me.”

Ok, this song is not halfway bad. That catchy chorus grows on you with each listen. 6/10

Hey Hey Hey

Marilyn Monroe on a monster truck indeed. This was a wreck of a song I think. It attempts to be an anthem of female empowerment but it could have been done better. The lyrical phrasing was lazy and bothered me a great deal.  3/10

Roulette

I am not even going to bother inserting a Spotify link because this sounds just like the song before it. “Like Roulette, wanna close my eyes and roll it with you.” Really? Really?! 3/10

Swish, Swish

Ah, the feud. The great marketing strategy. Write a song that is seemingly about another celebrity that you’ve been involved with and people fall all over themselves to listen and glean meaning from the song’s lyrics. Add Nicki Minaj to the mix just to be extra controversial. Apparently this is Katy’s response to Taylor’s Bad Blood. Hmph. Personally, I think Bad Blood was better. 4/10

Chained to the Rhythm

More of the same. I read somewhere that most pop songs stick to the same notes but like, in different arrangements, and these notes are scientifically proven to be the ones that are immediately pleasing to the human ear and which triggers a release of endorphins or something like that. I think Katy Perry used all the other notes because there is just something off about all of the songs on this album. “It just goes on and on and on”, the lyrics say. And damn, but that should be the tagline for this album. 4/10

Bon Appetit

You know you’ve run out of inspiration when you start comparing yourself to food. As ridiculous as this song is though, I think it might be one of the few that are worth a second listen. Its lyrically stupid, but sonically catchy. Also, James Corbin sang it on Carpool Karaoke and any song that James Corbin likes just grows on me because he is just so unashamedly a music fan. 6/10

Bigger Than Me

I think this is one of the strongest songs in the album.

“If I’m not evolving, I’m just another robot taking up oxygen.”

Katy is at her best when she’s introspective and writing from the heart. Some of her best songs are those that she wrote just after her painful and very public divorce, especially when she sang about nearly losing the will to live in ‘By the Grace of God’. There is that sense of vulnerability here as well, which is why it works. This is the first song in the album that combines great lyrics with great sound.

All in all, I can see why this flopped and why the critics were so harsh in their review/s. More power to Katy if she’s put forth a body of work that she’s proud of. I suppose she can’t stay the teenage dreamer or Roar-er forever, but I look forward to the day when she’s reinvented herself to the kind of artist who can be happy in her music again, who knows who she is and doesn’t have to try too hard to make waves. Meanwhile, I wait with bated breath for Taylor Swift’s new album.