Prism’ neutralizes Katy Perry’s best qualities

Smith Galtney

Two stars

Katy Perry Prism

To pinpoint the issue with this album—and with Katy Perry, in general—we’ve got to zero in on a song called “This Is How We Do.” Produced by the still-at-it Max Martin, the song initially sounds like a by-the-numbers party anthem, with the requisite lines about “sippin’ on Rosé” and wearing “Chanel this, Chanel that” while the gang’s “chilling, laid back.” But then something funny happens during the breakdown. “Yo, this goes out to all you kids that still have their cars at the club valet and it’s Tuesday,” Perry announces, before really getting twisted. “Shout out to all you kids, buying bottle service, with your rent money. Respect!”

Uh, what was that?! Rewind, please. On second listen, “This Is How We Do” reveals itself not as a mindless party tune, but as a party tune about mindlessness. Which is pretty brilliant, right? Well, no. If someone else sang it, yes, but Perry’s not a skilled ironist. She sounds like she’s genuinely patting kids on the back for being irresponsible, and hence comes off as more careless and dangerous than that other what’s-her-face-with-the-tongue-always-out.

That’s not the case, of course, as Perry’s an anomaly in pop: a woman who’s actually playful when it comes to her image and her career and even her sexuality. (Did she just say “I feel my lotus blossom”?!) But as with almost all of Perry’s music, Prism does the opposite of its namesake. It takes all of Perry’s bright and bubbly qualities and flattens them into a dull, colorless line.

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