Is there really any point reviewing a Katy Perry album? If you have come into contact with a radio in the past five years, you already know what to expect from her and you already know that she probably won’t deviate too wildly from that path. She may have been spouting in the press recently about how this is a much “darker” album but she’s not really fooling anyone. Time is a valuable commodity however so the point of this review is essentially to let you know that you might be better off listening to something else.
That isn’t to say that the music on this album is awful. It’s actually fine; some of these songs are excellent pop productions. With about seven writers’ names attached to each song, it would be strange if that many people didn’t come up with a few decent ideas between them. You just don’t really need to take fifty minutes out of your life to listen to the whole thing; if you’re partial to the odd Katy Perry tune, just pick out the few highlights and save yourself the effort.
The first single, Roar, is a fine song in its own way. It has a great, big, catchy chorus and Katy is a capable singer as always. The lyrics mean precisely nothing though. As is usually the problem with this type of chart pop, Katy wants the biggest audience possible and so tries desperately not to offend anyone. As a result we get monstrously clichéd lines like “I went from zero to my own hero”, which is something a thirteen year might pat themselves on the back for thinking up. She also lets us know that she has the “eye of the tiger” and the “roar of the lion”, making her some sort of Frankenstein’s monster of big cats. She is also “a champion” apparently.
These lyrical clangers harm the album throughout. Legendary Lovers has a chorus of “Take me down to the river”, which is present in approximately four thousand other songs. Unconditionally assures us that “Acceptance is the key to be/ To be truly free”, which is a lovely sentiment if not exactly helpful or interesting.
Of course, people don’t really listen to Katy Perry for her lyrics. Or they shouldn’t anyway. What really matters about Prism is whether it has some catchy tunes. And it does. Birthday is a funky summer song in the vein of Bruno Mars’ Treasure. International Smile is catchy as hell, featuring a Daft Punk-style breakdown and This is How We Do is another earworm despite containing the horrible pun “Mariah karaoke”. When Katy is trying to have fun, her music works great. When she tries to be “serious” it comes off as very insincere, exhibit A being Double Rainbow. It’s hard to take someone seriously when they’re quoting a Youtube video.
Apparently Swedish songstress Robyn was a big influence on this album. Producers Max Martin and Dr. Luke, who are credited throughout, make a decent attempt at recreating that sound. The difference is that Robyn sounds like she means it. Katy clearly feels emotion just like the rest of us but the massive clichés that litter the album completely undercut that though. What we end up with is another decent pop album with songs that don’t really mean anything. That’s absolutely fine but it’s hard to imagine people remembering it in 20 years’ time.