Written by Leo Baldi
We all know that when an artist self-claims artistic and political importance for their work, it usually is because they are either surrounded by people who all have no idea what they are talking about, or because they are not that bright. When Gaga titled her last album Artpop, we all know how that turned out. Katy Perry released her anticipated studio album Witness this Friday and it failed pretty much every expectation we had towards it, cover art included.
The artwork was plagiarised from the 1995 Bedtime Story video by Madonna, but the album takes a lot of inspiration from the 90’s, so that is not a huge turn off for me. The explanation that Perry gave Jimmy Fallon a few weeks ago, however, seemed a bit too pretentious. She wanted an eye in the mouth because we witness her and she witnesses us through her voice, “my consciousness comes from my voice”. The idea behind the album is her new awakening to the world. Which sounds as pretentious as it could possibly be, especially when it is not backed by any actual political or inspirational music. In fact, Perry can consider her songs “woke” all she wants, but there is nothing new or controversial about them. The whole experience feels like she went to a seminar on sociology, then googled Foucault, and called Sia and Max Martin to write songs together.
Perry in Witness is basically acting like that 17-year-old spoiled kid that all of a sudden thinks he/she is finally awake because “we are all chained to the rhythm” and he/she clearly is the only one to have realised it. Which is hysterical both to listen to and to look at, especially when the results of this attitude are pitiful performances on SNL… and pretty much anywhere she performed recently (even in carpool Karaoke).
The album is boring. The songs all sound the same and most of the times they speak in such simplistic and reductive terms they are excruciatingly unlistenable. Many times she seems to be speaking the truth even when her “voice shakes” and unless she is marketing herself towards toddlers, which could be a respectable choice, this truth is illiterate.
The songs all lack “power”, they fall flat and, with the exception of Bon Appetit and Swish Swish. They are not memorable. I was personally excited to hear what Perry and Jack Garrat could come up with on Power when I read the credits of the album, but even an edgy collaboration like that still feels perfectly forgettable.
Hey Hey Hey, track 2, is a bland excuse for a feminist song that feels like the perfect Deluxe Edition filler. Pendulum has a gospel choir repeating words soullessly. Deja Vu sounds like it could’ve been a great pop track had the writers spent more time on the chorus.
Choruses and hooks are what seems to be completely missing from this effort, and Katy Perry is known as perhaps one of the most memorable crafters of pop hooks, so no wonder people don’t recognise her in this project (not in the good “she’s growing artistically” way).
She sounds tired, but not like “I’m working too hard, I’m tired”, more like “my taste is tired and I’m just trying to be edgy”. Perry has abandoned the cheesiness and romanticism from Teenage Dream and Prism trying to develop a more interesting and refined product, yet with all the people that she has worked with, she managed to create the worst let-down of the 2017. I don’t think Perry realises how comical her efforts to be smart are.
Check out the video to Bon Appetit here: