Are you ready to receive the full power of “Prism” into your heart?
In case you haven’t noticed, we’re deep in the midst of a heavily saturated pop diva album cycle the likes of which the world has never seen… at least not since 2011. Of course, Rihanna’s probably set to release another record this November, but, like, water’s wet. What makes the latter half of 2013 extra special is that every kween imaginable’s next effort is either recently out or on its way, like Britney Spears’ Britney Jean, Miley Cyrus’ Bangerz, Lady Gaga’s ARTPOP, Beyoncé’s ever-looming TBA phantom disc, and, of course, Katy Perry’s Prism.
It’s pretty fair to say that Miss Katy won the last pop cycle with her third studio album, Teenage Dream, and its Complete Confection deluxe re-release, at least as far as numbers are concerned. Six No. 1 singles on the Billboard Hot 100, eight top-fives, 5.5 million record sales — Prism’s got a lot of high expectations to meet (if not exceed), and that won’t be done by simply adding more canisters of whipped cream into even more weaponized boobs. (Apologies to whipped cream, you the best.)
So, does Prism deliver? I know I’m, like, kind of a big softie. (FTR, I advised a friend against buying someone a bouquet of dyed-blue daisies for his birthday this past weekend, because I wouldn’t have been able to stand looking at them trampled on the bar’s floor by night’s end.) But hopefully, you’ll trust me when I say that for the most part on Prism, Katy’s a champion and you’re gonna hear her roar. Except on “Roar,” honestly one of the weaker offerings this go-around. #SorryBoutIt
To review the tracks, which dabble in genres as vast and varied as house, trap, and even Christian pop (more on that in a bit), I turned to the only medium capable of expressing my full range of critical feeling: the cat GIF. C’mon, the new face of COVERGIRL’s got her bb kitten, Kitty Purry, and her fan army has dubbed itself the KatyCats! Also, WHAT DO YOU HAVE AGAINST CAT GIFS?! See? I’m only doing it because it makes absolute perfect, logical sense. So without further ado, here is Katy Perry’s Prism, reviewed track-by-track in cat GIFs.
Like I said before, I’m not the biggest fan of Prism’s lead single at this point. Although its motivational “eye of the tiger”-isms were pleasantly invigorating, say, back in August when Katy first released the track, “Roar” is a bit too ubiquitous at this point to really move me.
Honestly, I also think I’m a bit peeved (PEEVED, I SAY) that Katy was all about that “California Gurls” blue wig-burning lyfe during the single’s promo period, yet has whipped out, like, elephant onesies and tiger ears every time she’s performed “Roar” live since the VMAs. Well, you better believe you’re gonna hear me “HARUMPH!” about it.
2.) “LEGENDARY LOVERS”
Whoops, Katy, your
epidermis Pentecostal upbringing is showing! Above a truly global folk instrumental that mixes everything from Indian sitars to Scottish pipes, the preacher’s kid who kissed a girl sings: “Take me down to the river/ Underneath the blood orange sun/ Say my name like a scripture/ Keep my heart beating like a drum.”
At this point in the album, I’m not sure whether Katy’s actually spoon-feeding me stealth Christian pop, or if she’s just very comfortable speaking in biblical metaphors. Either way, I’m feeling this, sooooo… whateva.
The third offering on Prism’s set list, one of MTV News’ “must-listen tracks,” is BEYOND fun. And, possibly about John Mayer? Possibly SEXUALLY about John Mayer?? Anyway, “Birthday” is a bubbly disco throwback that’ll fit right in with Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines,” Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky,” or Miley’s “#GETITRIGHT — basically anything that Pharrell was within 17 feet of this past year. We’ve gotta take points off for the creepy-as-f*** “Happy birthdayyy” whispered at the end of the song, but still…
Check out the rest of our track-by-track Prism review after the jump.
4.) “WALKING ON AIR”
Obvious CeCe Peniston ’90s throwback references (and even more obvious “Peniston” jokes because lol, “Peniston”) aside, Katy’s house number is a killer. Thanks to its decade-appropriate gospel choir breakdown, “Walking On Air” gives Katy’s lyrical Christian references like “Even Heaven is jealous of our love” and “We make angels cry” the glory they deserve. “Rhythm Is A Dancer,” and hallowed be her name!
When it comes to Katy Perry’s lyrics, simplicity and clarity have always been key. When done right, a chorus doesn’t need anything more than what the second Prism single provides: “Unconditional/ Unconditionally/ I will love you unconditionally.”
BAM! And then it hit me. Is Katy singing to Jesus? Is she singing as Jesus? Is “Unconditionally” basically Ms. Perry’s private Christ fan fiction set to music? Is Katy actually a Pentecostal sleeper cell set to awaken and proselytize her spiritual message only once she’s finally captured the secular world’s attention?! Most importantly, is the song so good that I just can’t be bothered to care? Yes… for now.
6.) “DARK HORSE” FEATURING JUICY J
Sure, Juicy’s verse may be phoned-in, but it’s far from the worst phoned-in guest verse on a mainstream pop diva’s single. (That dubious honor belongs to Slim Thug on the Bun B-less version of Beyoncé’s “Check On It,” because “Keep my hands in my pants/ I need to glue ’em with glue”? Seriously? SERIOUSLY?!) Things get downright witchy on the trap-influenced “Dark Horse,” and the building surge of a chorus is pure Katy Perry. Spoooooooooookily approved!
7.) “THIS IS HOW WE DO”
Song number 7’s a bit o’ harmless Prism fun. To be sure, “This Is How We Do” is no game-changer, and its repeated “This is no big deal” bridge is admittedly pretty grating. But otherwise, it’s super posi and will make for excellent party background music kinda like Britney’s “How I Roll” off of Femme Fatale. (If only it were still summer!)
Side note: Although most of the Prism tunes that draw inspiration from Katy’s past seem to reference her religious upbringing, this one’s clearly a callback to her almost-famous days on the mid-aughts L.A. party scene. It totally fits with the very One Of The Boys-era instrumental, and we like it.
8.) “INTERNATIONAL SMILE”
Another fun ’70s throwback, “International Smile” is a song of the summer waiting to happen. While listening, I couldn’t help but visualize a super campy video where Katy, dressed as a flight attendant, performs the finger-pointing airplane safety routine alongside dozens of other near identically dressed women, though all wearing different colored wigs. (You’re comin’ back, Baby Blue.) Think Calvin Harris’ “The Girls” video-meets-Pan Am Barbie.
OR, WHAT IF THEY ALL MODEL JORDACHE JEANS. THAT’S IT. THE WHOLE VIDEO. Whatever you choose, actual directors of the world, HURRY! “International Smile” is too good to keep waiting in the wings forever.
Clearly referencing Russell Brand’s infamous breakup text captured in “Katy Perry: Part Of Me,” the lyrics of “Ghosts” include: “With every kiss, and every letter/ Every promise of forever, oh/ But you hit send/ And disappeared in front of my eyes.” Song No. 9 is an act of acceptance and an exercise of release for Ms. Perry. Thankfully, the deeply personal tune is also set to a super infectious melody that even The Go-Go’s frontwoman, Belinda Carlisle, would weep for. Obsessed!
10.) “LOVE ME”
“No more second guessing/ No, there’s no more questioning/ I’ll be the one defining who I’m gonna be/ No concealing my feelings, or changing seasonally/ I’m gonna love myself, the way I want you to love me,” Katy serenades on “Love Me.” The song touches on the weaknesses of her marriage to Russell Brand, the strengths of her newfound relationship with John Mayer, and, ultimately, how true power lies within Katy more than anything else. Bring it in KatyCats.
11.) “THIS MOMENT”
The first time I heard the bass line come in, I honestly thought that Katy had taken a page straight out of the “Goodbye Horses” playbook — which would have been AMAZING! “Goodbye Dark Horses (The I’d F*** Me Remix)”?? HELLO, can someone make this happen? I’m lookin’ atchu, Tumblr.
Anyway, “This Moment” is another song like “Love Me” and “Ghost” where Katy details putting the past behind her, embracing the future, and living in the present. “All we have is this moment/ Tomorrow’s unspoken/ Yesterday is history/ So why don’t you be here with me,” she belts. The song may not be one of Katy’s surefire No. 1 chart-toppers, but it’s catchy. Play me off, Keyboard Cat!
12.) “DOUBLE RAINBOW”
I have scratched my head raw trying to understand what the hell is going on with “Double Rainbow.” First, Katy names it after a meme. Second, she names it after a meme that is more than three years old. Third, the song isn’t even goofy to match the tone of the aforementioned viral video; it’s vurrry serious, down-tempo, and ridiculously earnest. This is a truly bizarre standout on an otherwise solid album for all the wrong reasons.
13.) “BY THE GRACE OF GOD”
So I know I was joking before about how various Prism songs like “Legendary Lovers” and “Unconditionally” could be read as stealth Christian pop, but “By The Grace Of God” is something else entirely — i.e., there’s no stealth involved. Katy very clearly found a renewed sense of purpose after her divorce all thanks to her spirituality, as evidenced by the lyrics: “By the grace of God/ I picked myself back up/ I put one foot in front of the other and I/ Looked in the mirror and decided to stay/ Wasn’t gonna let love take me out that way.”
No wonder there are such strong religious overtones to Ms. Perry’s fourth studio album! But, that’s not even the most notable aspect of the record’s closing track. What I found most interesting, at least, is that the song is surprisingly light on figures of speech and all-too accessible platitudes — at least compared to the metaphor mother load that was “Wide Awake.” Of all of the new elements and stripped-down touches that Katy brought to Prism, this is perhaps the most exciting. Keep it up.
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