on October 22, 2013
How do you follow up a mega-success like "Teenage Dream"? You shift gears and come up with something equally as entertaining in a different way. Prism packs a wide range of material, from bubble gum pop to deep, melancholy introspection. If you're a fan of Katy's more commercial sounding material, you may be initially disappointed, but spend some time with it and let it grow on you. You'll appreciate it more with each listen. It's still got her signature pop sound, but there's also a whole lot more.
Here is a track by track breakdown:
1) Roar: The first single and a massive hit, and not even one of the best cuts on the album. I understand why this was released as the first single, it bears the closest resemblance to the songs on "Teenage Dream" and is a natural choice. But you'll be pleasantly surprised to find that "Roar" is not the only nugget in this treasure chest.
2) Legendary Lover: An over-the-top, up-tempo ballad with a Middle Eastern flair. At times, Perry has a tendency to sing a little flat, and in this song it works to her advantage.
3) Birthday: Disco/EDM track with an incredibly catchy verse and chorus. This is a fun song filled with double entendres ("It's time to bring out the big balloons"). This song doesn't pretend to be anything beyond a good time. One of the best cuts on the album.
4) Walking On Air: Also heavily EDM influenced, it sounds like a modern spin on Madonna's "Holiday", which is a good thing. Throughout the song the drums cut in and out (a technique used several times on the album), which initially is a little jarring. But after a few listens it becomes much more palatable and gives Katy's voice some breathing room and allows her to make use of her falsetto.
5) Unconditionally: This is where Katy starts to dig a little deeper. This is one of the many tracks on the album that deals with the theme of relationships and Perry's pain is evident. In most popular music today, you can hear the auto-tune, but not this track. This sounds like pure, raw, Katy Perry, similar to how you'd hear her live.
6) Dark Horse: Like many artists today, she makes use of a rapper (Juicy J) to handle the verse while she takes the chorus. If you're a fan of Macklemore or Flo Rida, two artists that have made a career from this, this will likely appeal to you. I prefer straight KP.
7) This Is How We Do: Another fun, upbeat, dance number. She sings this one in a staccato/half rap style that is not unappealing. This is the Katy we used to know, when she was all about having fun.
8) International Smile: An upbeat straight-up pop track with a strong melody line and vocal. The lyrics are a little cliche-ridden, however. If you're not bothered by corny lyrics, you'll enjoy it.
9) Ghost: One of the best songs on the album, but not likely to be a single. Too dark and introspective. This is obviously about her breakup with Russell Brand and she isn't afraid to put her most personal feelings out there for everyone to hear. The melody in the verse is beautiful and it's only accentuated by the real pain she is able to conjure up when delivering the vocal.
10) Love Me: Not one of the stronger cuts on the album. Katy again shows her vulnerable side as she sings about trying to learn to accept herself and all her flaws. The verse is a little too blase and the chorus isn't strong enough to take the song out of first gear.
11) This Moment: A slow-paced EDM track that doesn't really qualify as being unique enough to make an album that has similar songs that do it better.
12) Double Rainbow: No relation to the Youtube video with the same name (Thank God). A melancholy track that reflects a theme that weaves itself throughout the whole album. "Teenage Dream" indicated it was time to have fun, whereas "Prism" suggests it's time for contemplation. This is a good track that deserves several listens in order to to experience all of its layers.
13) By the Grace of God: A more traditional ballad with a verse that would not be out of place on a Carrie Underwood album. Perry is again extremely personal with her lyrics as she sings of her struggles with self-image.
14) Spiritual: This is not a style you've heard from Perry before, and it's another interesting progression in her growth as an artist. It's a throwback to the eighties, where influences of the Eurythmics, Madonna, Roxy Music and Human League are all prevalent.
15) It Takes Two: Another song about her breakup with Russell Brand, where she puts half the blame on herself and apologizes for it. The song has a great bridge, probably the best on the album. Unfortunately the verse and chorus don't hold up as well.
16) Choose Your Battles: A slow, dark, EDM track. "Why are you trying to make me your enemy?... I'm not fighting anymore." An appropriate finish to an album that takes chances and chooses to explore some darker themes.
Is every track a masterpiece? No. There are a couple of duds. But in a world where you're lucky to get one or two good songs per CD, this album is a home run.
on November 28, 2013
I never really paid much attention to Katy Perry. I basically wrote her off as strictly kid's stuff and assumed she'd never outlast the puberty of her fan base. What caught my attention about this new album first was actually the cover and the photo shoot associated with it. I saw less makeup and the cotton candy dress code totally nixed. I thought "hey what's going on here?" I've always thought she was a very attractive woman underneath all the plastic and paint. So I checked it out and I'm glad I did. (I guess that's what we call a good marketing campaign.)
I've long thought that there was much more to Perry than we were seeing. I just didn't think we'd ever see it. I remember seeing the SNL appearance and some of the interviews, and thinking that she was actually more intelligent than she let on. I'm pretty cynical about the biz right now and the conclusion I came to was that she was just pretending to be stupid because that's what sells, especially for women. "How sad is that?" I said, and I just shook my head and went right back to my collection, half of which is decades old.
No, Prism is not perfect. It never completely leaves Perry's bubblegum pop identity behind, and she's just not a truly great singer. She's pretty good, but not a virtuoso like Fiona Apple or Adele, or a natural talent like Annie Reese. The album gets a little awkward in spots, though it's never "bad".
So why the 5 stars? What do I love so much about this album? In a word, growth. It's the sheer growth. It's seeing such a huge name step out of what's comfortable and safe, take a few risks and an even bigger step forward. I never thought she could come so far in just three years (maybe less). This album is more complex, more thoughtful, deeper, more challenging, more clever and intelligent that anything else she's done. Even the trademark double entendres are at least a little more subtle and witty.
If you're not growing you're dying.
Roar is probably the all around best, most solid song on the album, though others are also good and again, nothing is bad.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying she sucked before. Teenage Dream itself for example was a decent song for what it was. I just think the new stuff is more mature and generally better. To be fair, there is a place for basic no-frills pop, but it's possible to do that in a more intelligent way. Many artists have and now it looks like Katy Perry will too.
on December 7, 2013
First, let me say that I am from a time, that music had more meaning, at least in my eyes. I am a huge fan of bands, like Jane's Addiction, Alice in Chains, Soundgarden. Over time, I have become much more eclectic, and realized the power of music past, adding the likes of the Rolling Stones, Queen, Elton John, and the "Man In Black", to name a few. Also, Dave Mathews, and for those who are not familiar, almost all of Blue October, have been great story tellers, for my generation.
I have been bothered by the lack of depth, in the last decade or so. So much bubble-gum pop, (C)rap, with lyrics that defy humanity, and only focus on the using of other people, for both pain, and pleasure.
I was not a big fan of Katy Perry, and I thought that, not so much her fault, the audience that she catered too, was far too young, for the explicit lyrics, she spewed out. Stupid parents, bringing their children to concerts, so they could learn about endless drinking, three-somes, and other events, that were never meant for children. Yet they came in droves, dressed like Katy, and waited hours to get a glimpse of her. She was NO ROLE MODEL.
This album is different, much more grown up, and much more pleasing to the ears. The beginning is just ok. Roar, is certainly catchy, and deserved to be the top song on the album, and one I believe is intended for her original fans. The next few songs, are just ok, you can listen to them, and not feel the need to skip ahead. Not very challenging, lots of verse (insert short lyric) verse. Some of which, is still not intended for children.
The album progresses at a nice pace, getting closer to the person that Katy has become, over the years of stardom meets heartbreak. She tells tales, that I am certain, are very very personal. She has finally become a woman, not just some eclectic girl, with light bulbs on her skimmpy swimsuit.
This album, may be a bridge, that carries her old fans (really young actually), over to the more worldly, wiser, mature singer, that she is today. I am happy to add this to my collection of music, and enjoyed the raw honesty, that only pain can bring.
This is a new Katy Perry, better, stronger, smarter, and dare I say, classier, than ever before. I hope she continues this new direction, she is a far more interesting artist now, than she ever was, in her teenage dream, living in a bubble, days before.
on January 3, 2014
This is a more mature, more serious Katy than in Teenage Dream. I picked this up because of how much fun TD was, with its bouncy, silly songs that weren't much more than bubble gum fluff. But this album is not a continuation of that. Make no mistake, it is very good in its own right, but if you're looking for Teenage Dream The Continuing Confection, you will be disappointed by this. There is one token party anthem in This Is How We Do, but it feels at odds with the rest of the songs, which are more mature and better grounded than Katy has been in the past. She has grown up, and everything is not a party. Boyfriends are not interchangeable like Ken dolls. Friday nights are not about having the biggest bash you can muster. This feels more like real-life Katy, without the blue hair. But this Katy is strong and sensible, serious and self-sufficient. Katy, Plain and Tall; Katy, Medicine Woman; Katy of Green Gables. The music is quite good, but this is also a woman I can respect.
on June 17, 2014
Before reviewing this album, I'm gonna talk a little about 'Teenage Dream', one of the most successful eras in pop music from the past years, I think not even Katy Perry would've expected such overwhelming success. She tied Michael Jackson's record on the charts for 5 #1's from an album, with smashes that are now considered her signature songs, including 'California Gurls', 'Firework' and 'E.T' to name a few. However, in late 2011, during the greatest moment of her career, she got divorced from her husband Russell Brand. She felt devastated, and this inspired her to re-release the album with the songs 'Part Of Me' and 'Wide Awake' which reference the divorce and show Katy on a different light. After this, she started working on her next album in late 2012, writing one of her most personal songs to date 'By The Grace Of God' which is about the divorce and how she picked herself back up after the saddest period of her life. Initially envisioning a dark album, she realized that she wasn't feeling sad and depressed anymore, she 'let the light in' as she proclaims, and decided to make a positive album. 'PRISM' is an album that experiments with many music genres, including her typical dance-pop, hip hop, electronic, power pop, house and disco. The album has upbeat songs about relationships and having fun, and more subtle and calm, reflective songs about self-empowerment, personal achievements and letting go of stuff. I'm gonna review each of the songs and give my general opinion on the album:
1. Roar - The album's first track and first single. A power pop song about self-empowerment and self-confidence, this catchy anthem kicked off the 'PRISM' era, and became another success for Miss Perry. To me there was no better song than this one to kick off the album and era, it's inspiring and different from her previous material, yet still as strong as her previous material and with a catchy hook. I give it a 5/5
2. Legendary Lovers - The album's second track. Katy does it again, she pushes beyond her comfort zone and experiments with new genres, but still keeping the catchy hooks. This song is influenced by world and folk music, and has this addictive Bollywood vibe. It explores a theme of infinite passion and romance. I give it a 5/5
3. Birthday - The album's third track and fourth single. This song is more "traditional" Katy Perry as it resembles her previous material more, it's a disco influenced song using a partner's birthday as a sexual metaphor. It's a great song with a nice melody and hook, but it's not so innovative, it reminds me of 'Last Friday Night' from Teenage Dream. To me, it wasn't the best single choice as evidenced by its commercial performance. I give it a 4/5
4. Walking On Air - The album's fourth track. Another song about a strong passionate love, this is influenced by euro, dance and house music, it has a retro vibe and it's definitely another strong song on the album. This was released as a promotional single prior to the album's release. I give it a 5/5
5. Unconditionally - The album's fifth track and second single. This song is just perfect, it's a power pop ballad about unconditionally loving someone despite their flaws, it has electronic influences and probably Katy's best vocal performance to date. One of my favorites on the album. I give it a 5/5
6. Dark Horse - The album's sixth track and third single. One of the most experimental songs on the album, this is a completely different to anything Katy has released, even the other songs on PRISM. as it experiments with hip hop, trap and EDM. I instantly loved it when it first came out as a promotional single, it's pure fire and still a very Katy song. The song also features Juicy J who delivers a verse towards the last chorus. Lyrically, it's about a dangerous love, as Katy portrays herself as a witch advising a man not to fall in love with her. I give it a 5/5
7. This Is How We Do - The album's seventh track. This is one of the album's more carefree moments, as it doesn't explore a recurrent theme, it's purely about having fun, as Katy raps over a hip hop influenced beat. I really like it, it makes you feel good and I love the constantly repeated phrase "it's no big deal". I give it a 4.5/5
8. International Smile - The album's eighth track. Another feel-good track, but this one is a lot catchier and again resembles traditional Katy Perry, as it's pure dance-pop. This song is dedicated to one of Katy's best friends Mia Moretti, as it says on the album booklet, and Katy sings about how she's a trip, a one-way ticket, a cosmopolitan and has this "international smile". Very solid and cool song, I also like its robotic breakdown. I give it a 5/5
9. Ghost - The album's ninth track. The album starts to get a bit more mellow and reflective, musically and lyrically, as this song's about the end of a relationship, and how Katy's former lover is just a "ghost" now. Obviously it refers to her divorce, as Russell divorced her by text message, and the first verse says "You sent a text, it's like the wind changed your mind, we were best friends, we were building a life". A dark and powerful ballad, one of the best ones on the album. I give it a 5/5
10. Love Me - The album's tenth track. A ballad that musically sounds like a sweet lullaby, it's a self-esteem song where Katy feels like she's lost herself due to fear of losing her lover and poor self-confidence, and she proclaims she's now gonna love herself like she'd want her lover to do. Inspiring and sweet song, towards the end it definitely builds up for the next one. I give it a 5/5
11. This Moment - The album's eleventh track. The album becomes positive again, Katy once again delivers a solid vocal performance and sings about living in the present with her lover. My only problem with this song is that its production is weak, unlike 'Ghost' and 'Love Me', her vocals are loud and strong so it doesn't work well. Still, it has a cute message and her vocal delivery is still great, it just doesn't go with the music. I give it a 4/5
12. Double Rainbow - The album's twelfth track. This is my favorite song on the album, with 'Ghost' the album's music becomes more subtle and calm, with 'Love Me' she continues this direction but building up, 'This Moment' shows positivity again, and with this song the album reaches its peak. Co-written with the amazing Sia, she sings about finding someone in a special and unique moment, comparing the experience to a double rainbow since it's very hard to find. The lyrics and music are beautiful, and the bridge is the best part of the song, as she proclaims with pure honesty that she'd just do anything just to find this special someone. Best song on PRISM. I give it a 5/5
13. By The Grace Of God - The album's thirteenth track. As I said at the beginning of my review, this song was written about her divorce, and how she reached an all-time low in her life, but got back up and carried on. This is a beautiful piano ballad, and it perfectly closes this chapter of Katy's life. With the divorce, she started to have suicidal thoughts and felt depressed, she thought she was nothing and that her husband left her for that reason. This song kind of explains the whole album, as she picked herself back up, started to feel more confident about herself, had new dreams and goals, and just 'let the light in'. Amazing song. I give it a 5/5
As you can see, this album explores many different themes and different musical styles, which is why it's called 'PRISM'. All the songs are different, Katy is a stronger woman now and she's living a new chapter in her life, during the recording of the album she started dating John Mayer who brought her happiness. I think this was the best direction she could've taken, a dark album wouldn't have worked, as things got better for her and obviously she had to talk about her recovery and her newfound happiness. I also heard the bonus tracks 'Spiritual', 'It Takes Two' and 'Choose Your Battles', which are a nice extension to the album and basically reinforce the overall message about enjoying life again and looking back on overcome struggles. This is Katy's best album to date, I give it a 5/5.
on November 18, 2013
Katy Perry's best album yet. PRISM shows a more mature side to her without losing the fun. I love the lyrics and her vocals are getting better each album. "Love Me" is such a beautiful song. Touching.
on May 11, 2014
I'll admit it upfront, I'm probably not in Katy Perry's typical fan demographic as a male in my late 20's, but she caught my attention when the songs from her previous album Teenage Dream hit Top 40 radio stations everywhere and pulled me in with the catchy beats & energetic vocals. The songs were so catchy that I had to buy that album, plus her live MTV Unplugged where she showed unexpected vocal chops.
Make no mistake, Prism is still a "pop" album that embodies a lot of what drew me to Katy Perry initially, and the first several tracks (1 through 7) are all prime examples of her enthusiastic high-production pop, but when the album hits track 11 (about 2/3 of the way through), it starts taking a different turn where the vocals dominate over the background music and the lyrics start opening up, as she begins to sound like she's singing more from her heart and is finally & fully expressing herself, pouring out all of her inner emotions. Although some might call the album's standout song "Roar" or even "Dark Horse" (since they're the current singles after all), the first time I heard "It Takes Two" (track 15), I was floored. It was the first time that I heard Katy Perry raw, honest, & purely emotional in what had to be a cathartic release for her. "It Takes Two" is my new favorite Katy Perry song for that reason alone, and IMO is one of the true stand-outs on the album (excepting the fact that it sounds even better on good headphones too!).
The last several tracks pulled me in to Katy's expressiveness so much that I was actually miffed when the album ended (at a total playback time of 1h:1m:41s) and immediately wanted more of the honest, soul-baring, & heart-pouring songs. Easily an amazing album from her, maybe her best yet! It re-fueled my opinion that she's actually a better artist than what most people give her credit for, and now more than ever I'm looking forward to her future releases to see how she continues to grow.
on January 7, 2014
My husband loves her music. I gave him this as a Christmas present and he loves it!! When he's traveling, he puts into the CD changer in the car and sings himself to his next destination. LOL
on November 22, 2013
What can be said about Katy? She improves every CD. Every song on this CD is one of substance. Her beauty doesn't hurt either. The song with John Mayer is the most beautiful in my opinion.
on August 7, 2015
This is Katy Perry's third studio album, and since I loved Teenage Dream so much, it was a no-brainer to pick this one up. I went ahead and sprung for the Deluxe Edition because those are often better. Well, let's see how this album holds up:
Roar (5/5) - This song is fun and uplifting, and unlike a lot of other “uplifting” songs, this one truly feels fun and empowering instead of dark and depressing. Also, it works much better lyrically than "Firework" (from Teenage Dream) did at being a motivational song.
Legendary Lovers (4/5) - This song's interesting; it has got a sort of “Asian” flare to its sound, and it makes for a nice contrast to the other songs and helps it to be unique.
Birthday (4/5) - I actually didn't care for this one at first, as it struck me initially as a bit bland musically, but it's really grown on me. It's a pretty obvious birthday/sex metaphor, but despite the cheesy lyrics, it's an enjoyable song regardless.
Walking On Air (4/5) - This one's nice -it's quite energetic. A few lyrics are kinda corny like rhyming "erotica" with “exotica,” but its pleasant to listen to.
Unconditionally (3/5) – I can't say I care much for this song. It's just okay – not terrible, not great, just okay.
Dark Horse (Feat. Juicy J) (5/5) – This is probably the stand-out track on the album – it's catchy, has a unique sound compared to the other album tracks, and is just generally nice to listen to.
This Is How We Do (4/5) – I like this song, too. It's not the best song ever, but it's decent and perfectly listenable.
International Smile (3/5) – This song has some vapid lyrics, and generally feels a bit like a filler song - however, it's saved by the nice chorus.
Ghost (4/5) – This is a tonal shift in the album since the song is a lot darker in subject matter than the previous entries. Normally, I'm not too fond of the slower songs, but this one is saved by it's catchy chorus.
Love Me (3/5) - Meh, this song isn't horrible, but not very interesting either. It's like "Ghost" but without an interesting/catchy chorus to keep it afloat, so it doesn't appeal to me much.
This Moment (3/5) - This one is rather dull, but not unlistenable. It really has the same problems that "Love Me" does, and doesn't really stick in my mind.
Double Rainbow (4/5) – When I first saw the song title, I was really afraid that this song would be about that stupid youtube video where the guy goes "Oh, double rainbow – but what does it mean?". Thankfully, that's not the case. It's actually a rather sweet love song, and is surprisingly good.
By The Grace Of God (4/5) - This song is reasonably good. It's a slower song, but builds to a strong chorus. It's a decent song, but not a must-listen for me.
Spiritual (4/5) - This song's actually quite good for a slower song, and I like it just fine.
It Takes Two (2/5) – I really find this song a bit grating, maybe because of the really repetitive chorus, or the fact that it feels like it goes on too long (even though it isn't particularly long in reality, it feels like it drags). Either way, I don't care for it.
Choose Your Battles (4/5) - This song's actually pretty good. It's got decent energy and is a good listen.
Overall Score (4/5): NOTE this score is not a mathematical average of previous scores; it’s my subjective overall score. It's too bad that this album isn't as high quality as the “Teenage Dream” album – it honestly feels like there are more "meh" songs here than there were there. This is certainly an album that's uneven in execution with the better songs towards the upper half, but it's still generally listenable all the way through, so I'm overall pleased. Her previous work, “Teenage Dream,” was certainly better (and I suggest the “Complete Confection” version of that album to get all the extra goodies), but this is a respectable effort, too. I suppose this all comes down to personal preference, as many people seem to enjoy Katy Perry's new more “mature” direction, but I don't listen to Katy Perry for poignant emotional songs – I listen to her music for fun, catchy, upbeat music, so this release didn't do as much for me. Nonetheless, it's a respectable effort, and I'd still recommend it to Katy Perry fans.