Go Behind Katy Perry’s ‘Raw And Emotional’ Prism Writing Sessions

Perry's co-songwriter, Bonnie McKee, gives MTV News the story behind four key tracks.

Right in the middle of a busy album release season, Katy Perry has finally released Prism, the follow-up to Teenage Dream that not only reflects her growth as an artist, but also gives fans a taste of what it’s really like to be her.

Perry worked with some of the best in the business, including producers Dr. Luke, Cirkut and Stargate, as well as songwriting pros Sia, Greg Wells and Greg Kurstin, to help her whip up tracks that are not only fun, but also revealing. So MTV News caught up with co-writer Bonnie McKee to get the full story on the four Prism tracks she worked on (along with Perry, Luke, Martin and Henry Walker and producer Cirkut).

“Roar”
While Perry’s feisty lead single is song one, it was not the first tune they penned together. Instead it came in the middle of an emotional transition.

“It’s funny the songs really do kind of reflect the order that we wrote them… where we started with ‘Ghost’ and she was really down and out,” she said. “And then ‘Legendary Lovers,’ which is kind of a love song but it’s also a ‘could have been’ song. And then that went into ‘Roar,’ which was kind of a ‘pick yourself up and dust yourself off and keep going,’ female-empowerment song. And then we went into ‘Birthday,’ which was this ‘over it’, big party song. ['Roar' is] kind of an epiphany song.”

“Legendary Lovers”
“I think that we had a lot of fun on ‘Legendary Lovers.’ … I feel like I was able to pull a lot of imagery from really early [Eastern-influenced] stuff that I did [when I was a kid and young songwriter], and it was a lot of fun to get into the Bollywood sort of theme ’cause I know she’s always had an obsession with that too,” she explained of the track, which the pair wrote in Perry’s hometown of Santa Barbara. “I think they’re pretty classic themes that she goes over. When you’re writing love songs, it’s always forever; they seem to always last throughout time.”

“Birthday”
Track three is the bubbly “Birthday,” which finds Perry seducing a lover and spinning innocent party favors into something much cheekier.

“We kind of turned it into a bunch of sexual innuendos, which is what we tend to do. But the bridge actually the thing about the ‘birthday suit’ and the ‘big balloons,’ I was not in the room for that,” she recalled. “I had no idea. I didn’t hear it again until it had been mixed when I came in and listened to the bridge and I was like ‘Katy, what did you do when I left the room?’ It was really funny. I was laughing out loud. It was really great. I love it. It was just a lot of fun. She’s been through a lot and I think this is really a reflection of her coming out on the other side and being more lighthearted about everything.”

“Ghost”
But, things do get real on Prism. With opening lines like “You sent a text/ It’s like the wind changed your mind,” it might have some wondering if it’s about her divorce from Russell Brand, who reportedly broke up with her via text . McKee said it was the “most raw and emotional” song to write.

“I mean I think she probably, of course, thinks about it. Everything she does is under a microscope, but I don’t think that she lets that affect her art,” McKee said. “I think she just has to say what’s true and what’s honest and what she’s really feeling and then people can interpret it however they want to.”

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