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Album Review: Katy Perry – Witness

3 min read
Photo: Capitol

Since first bursting onto the global pop scene in 2008, Katy Perry has hit a number of impressive musical milestones. She’s headlined the most-watched Super Bowl half-time show in history and even boasts the world record for largest number of followers on Twitter. So why; in 2017, is Katy Perry starting to stumble?

 Witness is Perry’s fifth record, the fickle nature of the music industry has yet to call time on the California girl just yet; but the rug is slowly beginning to be pulled from underneath her. The eponymous track ushers in the new dawn in the Katy Perry life cycle, hinting there is a degree of internal conflict raging inside the singer. The alien pop schtick has worked for Perry in the past, but Witness is desperately self-alienating whilst simultaneously crying out for all the attention in the world. On the face of it Witness is just a lacklustre pop song, but scratch the surface and a worrying state of affairs come to the fore.

Both Hey Hey Hey and Roulette continue the questionably more out of this world direction that Perry is driving this record in. The syllable separating Hey Hey Hey recalls hits such as E.T which ruled the world for a brief time, but it is unlikely this will have the same effect on people. It’s not nice to revel in those who were once on top falling from grace, time was Katy Perry was the greatest popstar of recent years, but that halo is slipping somewhat throughout this record. Perry must be given credit for continuously knocking on the door of The Eurythmics to channel their sound but ultimately, Annie Lennox is refusing to answer her prayers.

Thus far in the record, it’s been a bit of a pity party for Perry. Seeing her not at her best isn’t easy for listeners who will have grown up seeing her thrive. Swish Swish is the banger everybody knew Perry was sitting on, ready to unleash at the point when all hope was almost lost. The inclusion of Nicki Minaj though is the first hint we see of impending problematic behaviour; using artists of colour to further her own agenda. For those who may be unaware of her recent antics, Katy is essentially milking the skills of such artists to save her flailing record campaign. Swish Swish is supposedly the latest chapter in the Swift V Perry feud, and in all honesty – the catchiest yet. It’s problematic pop, but damn is it done well.

Chained To The Rhythm remains the all over the place pop hit it always was. Impossible to gauge from first listen, but after more than a view will have you begging for the more sensible choruses of the past. ‘Stumbling around like a wasted zombie’ anyone? Can’t say it’s a past time many will be accustomed to, but props to Perry for her commitment to making choruses that sort of half rhyme. The presence of Skip Marley is cringeworthy after that now infamous performance on SNL, for those who haven’t seen it – consider it a bullet dodged.

The still quite bad Bon Appetit actually manages to sound somewhat salvageable in the midst of the Witness mess. But much more worth your valuable seconds, is the MUNA remix that transforms Perry into a lady with allure as opposed to just someone that loves a buffet as much as anyone.

How joyous it is that Save As Draft was not left as a deep cut that never saw the light of day. It shows there is still a heart of integrity left in Katy even after so many years in the game. Into Me You See is more than just a clever play on words, it’s worthy to stand shoulder to shoulder with previous ballads such as The One That Got Away and Wide Awake.

During the 2016 US Presidential election, we were introduced to a ‘woke’ Katy Perry who campaigned extensively for Hillary Clinton, yet in 2017 we have a racially insensitive Perry who believes she can get away with appropriating black culture for her own career success. For those who are gritting their teeth at such scathing remarks, remember the old Katy Perry. The Katy Perry that not only said the right things but sang the great things, it’s a hard past to live up to and sadly she falls more than a little short.