“Witness” is the fifth album from pop singer Katy Perry, released on June 9th on Capitol Records. The three lead singles from the album include “Chained To The Rhythm”, “Bon Appetit” and “Swish Swish”. This album follows the highly successful 2013 album “Prism” which dominated the charts for Perry and concluded with a massive Prismatic world tour which ended October 2015. It was in February of 2016 when Perry got herself into the research and development phase of the new album, but took a bit of time off to as she puts it get her “mental health on track”, before commencing writing new songs in June.
Perry had written over 40 songs before the year ended, material she claimed “connects and relates and inspires”. She has told Ryan Seacrest back in 2016 she wasn’t going to rush her fifth studio album saying “I’m just having a lot of fun, but experimenting and trying different producers, and different collaborators, and different styles”. Perry also stated that this album was definitely a different direction and new era for her. In May 2017 told Entertainment Weekly that her new album would include 15 of the 40 new songs she had written and described the new album as “fun and dance-y and dark and light”.
Next to be revealed was the “Witness” album cover which Perry commented on saying “Music has allowed me to travel, which has reeducated my mind and changed my perspective on so much, so my education and my consciousness comes from my voice, and that’s how I see, and that’s how I witness you and that’s how you witness me and that’s why the eye is in the mouth.” The albums promotion was massive with music app Spotify announcing it would heavily promote the album, and YouTube announced that it would broadcast a live listen-along special for the album titled Katy Perry Live Special the day before its release where audiences are taken “inside of her world”.
So what is to be expected from this album? After charting nine Number One singles since 2008, pop anthem-crooner Katy Perry is stumbling through a less bombastic pop universe on this project. This fifth album teams her up again with pop hit maker Max Martin, along with other producers such as Duke Dumont, Jack Garratt and more. Throughout this album the candy coated sound of “Teenage Dream” disappears and instead we are fed a mixture of EDM crossed with disco crooning. In the wake of the lead single “Chained To The Rhythm” Perry responded to a journalist of Vogue magazine who commented on her new style and how it was reinvented pop for her, and she responded by saying “I think you have to stand for something, and if you’re not standing for anything, you’re really just serving yourself, period, end of story. ‘California Girls’ and fluffy stuff would be completely inauthentic to who I am now and what I’ve learned. I do believe we need a little escapism, but I think that it can’t all be that. If you have a voice you have a responsibility to use it now, more than ever.”
Max Martin is around for nearly half of the album, and what’s most surprising about that is that even his songs fall short of the standard he has consistently hit over the course of an almost unprecedented multi-decade songwriting career. Martin is a notoriously precise and mathematical songwriter who applies the education of science to the process of creating pop music, but his work with Perry on “Witness” feels like that of an entirely different person. “Bon Appetit,” for instance, has a shockingly muted chorus, one that consciously declines to leap out at you from the radio in the way that nearly every other Martin hook does, not to mention almost all of Perry’s previous hit singles.
The lead single “Chained To The Rhythm” failed to live up to the expectations as best song on the album, and failed to chart like Perry’s other dynamic predecessor singles. The question remains though where Perry goes from here. Unlike other pop stars, her career has never been driven by tyrant up and down spiral that would lead her to a reinvention. She is instead just a singer with an artillery of chart topping pop songs, but “Witness” argues that her stockpile of ammunition is all but depleted. She will either mount a comeback for the ages, or we will soon look back and chuckle about how unimpressive she once was.
*Image Source: promotionmusicnews.com
Rating: 1.5 / 5
2. Hey Hey Hey
4. Swish Swish feat. Nicki Minaj
5. Déjà Vu
7. Mind Maze
8. Miss You More
9. Chained to the Rhythm feat. Skip Marley
11. Bon Appétit feat. Migos
12. Bigger Than Me
13. Save As Draft
15. Into Me You See