Katy Perry - Smile Music Album Reviews

Katy Perry’s bubbly, cliché-ridden pop feels especially unsuited for life in a pandemic. But despite all her garbled platitudes, she remains a master at executing chart-topping formulas.

Between rows of Spandex at Forever 21, in the back of a cab coming home from the bar, after losing your headphones at the gym—in a pandemic, all the ideal templates for listening to Katy Perry have disappeared. No more can the pop star’s songs seep into the background of a normal social life, clunking around in your head before you even know their titles; you have to actively opt into her new album and launch yourself willingly into its suffocating glitz. Smile is meant to be a “picture of RESILIENCE & GRATITUDE,” Perry writes in the liner notes. Those capital letters—the sense that someone is shouting at you—come through in the music. “Yeah, I’m thankful/Scratch that, baby, I’m graaateful,” she croons in the title song. “I am resilient!” she belts on another, six times in two minutes. “It’s not the end of the world!” she promises over a flailing disco beat, before launching into a pseudo-rap about a fortune teller and “flipping off the flop,” whatever that means.
These songs wink at global devastation the same way commercials for online car dealerships and door-delivered Chick-fil-A do—in these challenging times, convenience and the power of positivity will get us through. Pop music, and Katy Perry in particular, have used this tactic before. “Put your rose-colored glasses on, and party on,” she cooed on 2017’s Witness, an album of what she called “purposeful pop,” designed to yank the listener into a newfound social consciousness. She performed the lead single at the Grammys wearing a pink rhinestone PERSIST armband as an image of the Constitution rose behind her. She jammed the album with whomping bass and assertions that a woman could be both “feminine and soft,” “a babydoll with a briefcase,” and promoted it with a 72-hour livestream, therapy session and all, staking her activism on the idea that all vulnerability is radical. In one clip, she sat cross-legged on an immaculate white couch and apologized for her history of cultural appropriation. The camera panned to a flickering display of the album cover. “I’ll never understand, because of who I am,” she murmured. We were meant to connect the dots between parceled honesty and political stances, between an oddball “diss track” against Taylor Swift and a broad stance on female empowerment.

Smile asks less of us. The confessions on this album feel like calculated dodges, every tepid disclosure immediately followed by triumph. “They tell me that I’m crazy, but I’ll never let them change me!” she sing-shouts on “Daisies,” as limp EDM beats fill the background. The relentless spangle on Smile can seem jarring as Perry attempts to both nod to and avoid the pandemic-shaped elephant in the room. “It’s no funeral we’re attending,” she scoffs on “Not the End of the World.” There’s a song about postponing crying to go out and dance; there’s a separate track about dancing while crying. These are big-production tracks primed for maximum drama—shrieking electro violins, skittering beats, flecks of dubstep and disco—but the clumsy lyrics hamper any emotional payoff.

Clichés are practically baked into Perry’s brand, but when she deploys them as cutesy callbacks to her past songs, they present more evidence that she hasn’t really grown. “Have you ever lost, lost the light in your life?” she asks over “Teary Eyes”’s twinkling opening chords, a dumbed-down take on her infamous, “Do you ever feel like a plastic bag.” “Took those sticks and stones, showed ’em I could build a house,” she sings on “Daisies,” echoing the chorus of her 2012 hit “Part of Me.” The production strips down on “What Makes a Woman,” with soft electric guitar and light organ notes, but the lyrics feel snatched from the Witness era. “Could spend your whole life but you couldn’t/Describe what makes a woman, and that’s what makes a woman to me,” she croons in the chorus, an update but not necessarily an improvement on One Direction’s “You don’t know you’re beautiful/That’s what makes you beautiful.”

Despite all her garbled platitudes, she remains a master at executing proven chart-topping formulas. The Charlie Puth co-write “Harleys in Hawaii” is standard, breezy pop: a gently writhing beat, the word “baby” breathed over synths, vowels contorted so that “hula” rhymes with “jeweler.” “Tucked” is an understated highlight, a bass-blasted track about summoning the memory of a lover whenever she wants. Katy Perry has always excelled at packaging small moments of intimacy; it’s what animates the fleeting moments of post-party panic in hits like “Last Friday Night” and makes “Teenage Dream” one of the best songs of the last decade.

And then there’s “Never Really Over,” which accomplishes maybe what Perry wanted for the whole album: the glistening machinery of a big-budget pop song, calibrated for catharsis. Zedd’s production sounds a whole lot like “Closer”-era Chainsmokers, but his titanic drumlines build toward release as Perry hurls confessions over blooming synths. “Thought we kissed goodbye/Thought we meant this time was the last,” she sings, an ode to a relationship that refuses to wither. This is the version of Katy Perry pop can hold space for—one where her packaged self-probing leads somewhere and amounts to something. In spite of, or maybe because of, her promotional spectacles—Left Shark, the whipped cream bra, teasing her baby’s name with a single release—she’s long been able to comfortably assume legions of people will listen to her music, without even asking themselves why. The unspoken question of Smile is: Why now?
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About Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera

Hey, I'm Perera! I will try to give you technology reviews(mobile,gadgets,smart watch & other technology things), Automobiles, News and entertainment for built up your knowledge.
Katy Perry - Smile Music Album Reviews Katy Perry - Smile Music Album Reviews Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on Friday, September 04, 2020 Rating:

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