Released: June 9, 2017
Katy Perry has a way of delivering things; it could either be so good that it’s just plain F-ing good, or it’s bad that it’s good. And, that’s a good thing. Take a stroll back to memory lane with 2010’s Teenage Dream, a collection of fluffy, romantic, extremely crude and over-the-top record that reigned so many classless and immature material, it made the record so iconic and strong. But 2013’s Prism—Perry’s most mature title—saw a change in the lane. First, she was no more a fun, twisted and fierce-as-F diva, she become a strong voice for the public; the gays, the politics, the hurt, the happy… y’all get the idea. Now, fast-forward to June 2017, Ms. Thang decided to re-invent herself into a semi-robotic electronic pop queen for her new record Witness… and lord, it’s something.
Self-proclaiming it as an album consisting of “purposeful pop” (whatever the hell that means…), I can’t seem to find anything particularly purposeful about it; Jumbled, maybe? Not purposeful. And the thing is that, majority of the record opens with small sizzles, not boiled. For example, opening the record is the subtle electro title track, which is a good number to listen to, but unfortunately, it fails to represent the record with the witty charm and sassy realness we first fell in love with. And “Hey Hey Hey” just sounds like a dated attempt to the dubstep phase, only to crumble with flat synths and lacklustre verses. The feminist anthem “Power” may be a number for the women to jam to, and Perry’s vulnerability with tracks “Mind Maze” and “Bigger Than Me” stands out, but neither of these tracks manage to come full-circle. Every time I listen to them, I just can’t fathom to see what’s missing. Maybe the fun-loving personality invested into her previous hits have been drowned by the generic wave of progressive pop that you could hear on the radio nearly every god damn hour, and feel uninspired or indistinguishable.
And I can understand Perry’s attempt of merging her maturity with more political and social anthems like “Power” and “Chained to the Rhythm”, but to do so, you gotta marry this and the beats together, or it gets just sloppy. And to me, the sonic deliveries of Witness get’s sloppy in many areas, especially knowing that the record’s producers are nearly the SAME people who worked on Teenage Dream and Prism. Ms. Thang, I think it’s time to get a new batch of peeps, don’t ya think? But that’s not to say all the songs are bad. The Nicki Minaj collab “Swish Swish” is probably the most fully-realized number on the record, blending seductive vocal deliveries with a full-on four-on-the-floor 90s deep house beat. Next to the track is “Deja Vu”, which does a 180 and lingers around a contemporary house sound with sultry electronics. And, for the first time, I feel that Katy has presented her first realized love ballads, especially on the confessional torch anthem “Miss You More”, and the experimental twists on the retro electro seduction “Tsunami”. Perry has relinquished her soul on various softer songs, but this time round, she’s stripped the quirky colours and frills with raw presentations, which is rather impressive!
Katy Perry is a diva of the 2000s and 2010s, and with a large string of impressive twists and turns, it’s hard to say it but I feel that Witness seems a little lost or confused. It almost seems like she’s chasing the tails of her 2010s superlatives, as far as sonic and presentation, which has only stripped away her originality. The sound is, yet again, a move into another field which seems ballsy and bold, but also undercooked. Her vocals I LIVE FOR on Witness, and even her songwriting—outside of the fartsy fun tracks “Bon Appetit” and “Chained to the Rhythm”—has come a long way. It just sucks that Witness doesn’t feel satisfying to me, rather an uninspired and sporadic collection of hits, fillers, and misses. *Inserts crying face*
Track List (Bold means best tracks):
- Hey Hey Hey
- Swish Swish (feat. Nicki Minaj) ~Liam’s favourite~
- Deja Vu
- Mind Maze
- Miss You More
- Chained to the Rhythm (feat. Skip Marley)
- Bon Appetit (feat. Migos)
- Bigger Than Me