23 October 2013

prism || katy perry || 2013

Katy Perry has a very loud voice. Why her producers feel the need to make it even louder by using chorusing effects, I do not know, but it made this album very difficult to listen to through in-ear headphones.

Having said that, it absolutely has its high points. Perry is the reigning goddess of PG-pop. Her music is so saccharine that I sometimes feel the need to seek insulin after sitting through one of her album-deep cuts. While this creates the plus for her 12-year-old girl fans that they can safely play the album in the car with their mom and no one will be offended, it creates the trap of writing forgettable, fluffy music - a trap that Perry is not great at avoiding.

After five or six listens to "Roar," I think I actually do enjoy it. I think. It's a song about picking yourself back up after experiencing some sort of setback. In Perry's case, safe to say that we're talking about a relationship, but the lyrics easily apply to other situations and will no doubt provide comfort to the right listener. Something very noteworthy: The song denounces the singer's oppressor without actually insulting him/her, which is actually kind of cool.

"Legendary Lovers" begins with interesting phrasing in first verse, which gave me hope for the direction of the track, but it quickly delves into a repetitive melody that drones on for the rest of the song.

"Birthday" is, I guess, her attempt at a Hot AC radio version of Rihanna's "Birthday Cake," relying on the same set of metaphors without being quite so graphic. Again we hear this straight-up disco sound that's been so popular on pop radio this year (thanks mostly to Daft Punk). It's pretty forgettable, aside from the atrocious lyric about "birthday suit" and "big balloons." GET IT?! LOLOL

"Walking On Air" is one of the album's high points. Excellent production that perfectly recalls early '90s house music, but Perry just doesn't quite have the vocal chops of Martha Wash or even CeCe Peniston to pull it off, so it falls a little short of paralleling that era perfectly. This track is funky, spunky, and one of my favorites on the album.

"This Is How We Do" sounds like a bad viral video, à la "Friday" or "Chinese Food." Perry sings two notes for 95% of the song.

"International Smile" sounds derivative of 2001 Kylie Minogue, but has kind of a fun beat nonetheless, I guess.

Perry gets a little philosophical in "This Moment," but the awkward phrasing makes it hard to take her seriously. "Do you ever think that / We're just chasing our tails? / Like life is one big fast treadmill / And we pop what is prescribed / If it gets us first prize / But you know who I, who I think will win / Are the ones that let love in" Yikes. I predict, though, that if you're in a school sports organization, this song will probably be played over the video that recaps the year at your closing ceremony.

Perry's voice is by far the most pleasant on "Double Rainbow," which is sung and not yelled. It's a forced metaphor, yes, but the synths are neat and it's a cute song.

"Spiritual" has a unique drum track and a comparatively interesting melody, and excellent use of piano in the bridge.

I swear the final piano notes of "It Takes Two" are directly lifted from "The Final Countdown."

No risks whatsoever are taken with the chord progressions in these songs, but I don't think anyone expects differently from Perry. Classic pop melodies are her schtick, and she'll keep churning it out for her adoring fans. As an outsider of her fan base but a lover of pop music, this album absolutely has its bright spots ("Walking On Air," "Double Rainbow," and "Spiritual" for me), but I think pop fans looking for edge should be looking elsewhere.

A final note: "Eat your heart out, like Jeffrey Dahmer" gets my award for Most Cringeworthy Lyric of 2013, but "I faced my demons / I paid my dues / I had to grow up / I wish you could too" ALMOST makes up for it. Almost.