2017 took a lot out of Katy Perry. To promote her fifth album, Witness, she endured a 72-hour live stream that dug into her neuroses, forced her to reckon with past lovers, and set her up to bare her soul on the album as well. She did, and she spent nearly a year on tour bringing that experience to the masses.
It makes sense, then, that we haven't heard a ton from her since then, apart from the occasional one-off or superstar collab (or engagement announcement). But that all changed this week. "Never Really Over," her buoyant new single, is here. And with its marching-band drums and rousing chorus, it evokes the empowerment of her best past singles like "Roar" and "Firework."
Perry prefaced the release with a pastoral promo teaser focused in the sunlit warmth of nature and the sound of lapping water, a potential signifier that her newest era's ambitions would be more serene and less concerned with sloganeering (like, say, "purposeful pop"). The glowing video, directed by frequent Rihanna collaborator Philippa Price, finds Petty at a retreat resort, dancing and stretching and accessing her chakras to leave her burdens behind. It's a completely sunny reintroduction that finds Perry in a bouquet of natural, colorful gowns like an astral being from A Wrinkle in Time.
"I guess I could try hypnotherapy / I gotta rewire this brain," she sings in the second verse before potentially alluding to her past famous beaus. "'Cause I can't even go on the internet / Without even checking your name." The continued refrain of "two years still takes me back" throughout also lends credence to the fact that while the song takes the shape of a break-up hymn, it might have more to do with Perry's growth and self-acceptance since 2017 than anything else.
Watch the flowing video for "Never Really Over" above, and check it out on Friday on mtvU and MTV Live.