Pop music is taking a bit of a beating in the charts at the moment. As EDM and hip-hop continues to dominate the charts, it seems that good old-fashioned pop music has fallen to the wayside and it’s not a good sign when Lady Gaga is struggling to make an impact ahead of her new album ARTPOP. Thankfully Katy Perry is holding up the pop beacon following her return to the charts with number one smash Roar. It’s been 3 years since Perry unleashed her huge-selling Teenage Dream album and it was a brave move for her to take her time with a follow-up rather than rush-release an album per year (yes we’re looking at you Rihanna). Perry released her new album Prism last week and is already sitting pretty at the top of the charts on both sides of the Atlantic.
Katy Perry has a pop appeal that is suitable for an audience of any age. Her songs are always pure pop regardless of what other genre she’s mixing them with and she’s certainly a consistent pop heavyweight now. Prism sees Perry progress from the bubblegum pop of Teenage Dream and serving up a selection of mature pop confection that is as addictive as it is tasty. Opening with smash-hit Roar, which is proving to be one of the best pop songs of the year, Prism gets off to a storming start and it never really lets up from that point.
Like Teenage Dream before, Perry mixes up the sounds on Prism perfectly capturing the meaning behind the title and showcasing the different sides of her musical abilities. For the most part Perry has worked once again with Dr. Luke, Max Martin and Cirkut on the album so the overall sound of the record won’t come as a huge surprise to her fans. Ahead of the album’s release Perry has been drip-feeding fans with tracks including the house-inflected Walking On Air and the trap/grime feel of Dark Horse. Both of these tracks are the most unlike Perry on the record and hint that her next album could be even more adventurous.
In-keeping with showcasing her variety, Perry’s new single Unconditionally is a surprisingly honest ballad that sees the singer laying her feelings bare. As the album was written during Perry’s break-up from husband Russell Brand it’s no surprise that she has some feelings to express. Album closer By The Grace of God, which Perry debuted at the iTunes Festival last month, finds her stripping everything back and addressing her struggles following the breakdown of her marriage. It’s a side of Perry we don’t get to see that often but it’s one we hope to see more of in the future.
Elsewhere on the record there’s plenty to sink your teeth into including the fast-delivery of atmospheric pop track Legendary Lovers, the saccharine-sweet bounce of Birthday and the punchy pop of International Smile. This Moment is a mid-tempo 80s influenced track that explodes into a soaring chorus a la Firework whilst Love Me is a self-empowerment anthem about stopping being your own worst enemy.
The most obvious next single from Prism for us is the party anthem This Is How We Do which is like a more mature Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.) with Perry singing about a rather more sophisticated night out than the debauchery of that hit.
Katy Perry continues to deliver solid, inventive and catchy pop on Prism. Anyone worried she wouldn’t be able to follow-up Teenage Dream will be relieved to hear that this album is rather fantastic. The only misfire is Ghost, mostly because Perry pronounces 20/20 in a rather odd way, but one duff track out of 13 isn’t bad is it? Prism is set to dominate the charts between now and Christmas and we’ve already got it on repeat. The pop world should feel very grateful that we’ve got Katy Perry.