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Pop - Released August 28, 2020 | Capitol Records

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It comes as no great surprise that Smile, Katy Perry’s fifth album, doesn’t buck the trend of her previous work which has been at the heart of the American pop scene for the last ten years. The singer isn’t pretending to have revolutionised her artistic direction whose formula remains largely unchanged in both visual and musical terms. Smile is tailored for the radio waves and, while we can knock the simplicity of its lyrics, the very synthetic and often meticulous production transforms some tracks into powerful dance hits (Teary Eyes) and even gives us some unexpected disco grooves (Smile, Champagne Problems). The refreshing R&B on Harleys in Hawaii and its more intimate production stand out on this very (or overly?) energetic album that the singer explains was conceived during her darkest times. Occasionally, the sweet, colourful pop sounds almost ironic when considering the subjects Katy Perry discusses. A Smile or forced laughter? © IF/Qobuz
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Pop - Released January 1, 2012 | Capitol Records

Nothing comes naturally for Katy Perry. Blessed with a cheerleader’s body, the face of a second-chair clarinetist and a drama club queen’s lust for the spotlight, Perry parlayed all these qualities into success via her 2008 pop debut One of the Boys, an album that worked overtime to titillate. Working hard is Katy Perry’s stock in trade: whether she’s cavorting in the Californian sun or heaving her cleavage, she always lets you see her sweat, an effect that undercuts her status as a curvy Teenage Dream, the ideal she puts forth on her 2010 sophomore set. All this labor produces fetching magazine covers -- sometimes accompanied by good copy within -- and grabbing videos but it undoes her records, since we always hear her fighting to be frivolous. And all Perry wants to do is have fun: all she wants is to frolic in the spotlight, and she’ll follow the path of others to get there, raising eyebrows a’la Alanis, strutting like Gwen Stefani and relying on Britney’s hitmaker Max Martin for her hooks. There’s no question Perry is smart enough to know every rule in pop but she’s not inspired enough to ignore them, almost seeming nervous to break away from the de rigeur lite club beats that easily transition from day to night or the chilly, stainless-steel ballads designed to lose none of their luster on repeat plays. Perry acknowledges some shifting trends -- she salutes fellow attention-whore Ke$ha on “Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.),” replicates Ryan Tedder’s glassy robotic alienation on “E.T.” but tellingly avoids ripping off Lady Gaga, who is just too meta for the blunt Katy -- but these are merely accents to her old One of the Boys palette. And, once again, the music feels familiar, so Perry distinguishes herself through desperate vulgarity, wooing a suitor with “you make me feel like I’m losing my virginity,” extolling the virtues of blackouts and an accidental ménage a trois, melting popsicles, pleading for a boy to show her his “Peacock” (chanting “cock cock cock” just in case we at home didn’t get the single entendre). All this stylized provocation is exhausting, and not just because there’s so much of it (none of it actually arousing). It’s tiring because, at her heart, Perry is old-fashioned and is invested in none of her aggressive teasing. Not for nothing did she give her best post-One of the Boys song, “I Do Not Hook Up,” to Kelly Clarkson; its pro-abstinence rally flies in the face of the masturbatory daydream she’s constructed. It's ironic that her best song finds her lurking behind the scenes, because Perry's greatest talent is to be a willing cog in the pop machine, delivering sleek singles like “Teenage Dream” and “Hummingbird Heartbeat” with efficiency. Isolated on the radio, the way “Hot N Cold” was in 2009, these singles will wind up obscuring the overheated and undercooked nature of Teenage Dream as a whole. Then again, the album itself is almost incidental to the self-styled fantasy that Katy Perry sells with this entire project. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Pop - Released June 9, 2017 | Capitol Records (CAP)

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Pop - Released June 17, 2008 | Capitol Records

Listening to Katy Perry's litany of belched alphabets, fruity boyfriends, Vegas hangovers, and lesbian lip-locks on her debut, One of the Boys, it's easy to assume she'll do anything for attention, and a close read of her history proves that suspicion true. Prior to her transformation into a teen tart, Perry was a Christian singer operating under the name Katy Hudson -- an appellation a little bit too close to Kate Hudson, so she swapped last names and started working with big-name producer after big-name producer, cutting sessions with Glen Ballard and then the Matrix. That was enough to get buzz touting her as a next big thing in 2004, but not enough to actually get a record into the stores, a nicety that often proves invaluable for wannabe pop stars. Given this long line of botched starts, maybe it makes sense that the 24-year-old starlet is singing with the desperation of a fading burlesque star twice her age, yet Perry's shameless pandering on One of the Boys is startling, particularly as it comes in the form of some ungodly hybrid of Alanis Morissette's caterwauling and the cold calculation of Britney Spears in her prime. This fusion is no accident, as Perry works once again with Ballard, the producer behind Morissette's breakthrough Jagged Little Pill, and Max Martin, the writer/producer of "Baby One More Time" -- and that's just for starters. She also brings aboard Desmond Child to give "Waking Up in Vegas" an anonymous, anthemic pulse, Dave Stewart to give "I'm Still Breathing" a Euro sheen, and Butch Walker to amp up the amplifiers, giving her a different sound for every imaginable demographic. All the pros give One of the Boys a cross-platform appeal, but there's little question that its revolting personality is all down to Perry, who distills every reprehensible thing about the age of The Hills reality show into one pop album. She disses her boyfriend with gay-baiting; she makes out with a girl and she's doesn't even like girls; she brags to a suitor that he can't afford her, parties till she's face-down in the porcelain, drops brands as if they were weapons, curses casually, and trades under-the-table favors. In short, she's styled herself as a Montag monster. Perry is not untalented -- she writes like an ungarbled Morissette and has an eye for details, as when she tells her emo metrosexual boyfriend to hang himself with his H&M scarf on "Ur So Gay" -- but that only accentuates how her vile wild-child persona is artifice designed to get her the stardom she craves. Maybe if the music were as trashy as the style, she could get away with it, as it would have a junky thrill, but that's where all the high-thread-count producers actually work against One of the Boys. They flatten everything out, turning the stomping Gary Glitter beat of "I Kissed a Girl" into a leaden stumble and burying Perry's voice underneath Pro Tools overdubs so it all winds up as a faceless wash of sound designed to be placed in TV shows, movie trailers, and malls -- which is of course part of the plan, as this is music designed to be everywhere after Perry's taboo flirtations break down doors. The problem is not with Perry's gender-bending, it's that her heart isn't in it; she's just using it to get her places, so she sinks to crass, craven depths that turn One of the Boys into a grotesque emblem of all the wretched excesses of this decade. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Pop - Released August 28, 2020 | Capitol Records

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Rock - Released November 13, 2009 | Capitol Records

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Rock - Released January 1, 2010 | Capitol Records

Nothing comes naturally for Katy Perry. Blessed with a cheerleader’s body, the face of a second-chair clarinetist and a drama club queen’s lust for the spotlight, Perry parlayed all these qualities into success via her 2008 pop debut One of the Boys, an album that worked overtime to titillate. Working hard is Katy Perry’s stock in trade: whether she’s cavorting in the Californian sun or heaving her cleavage, she always lets you see her sweat, an effect that undercuts her status as a curvy Teenage Dream, the ideal she puts forth on her 2010 sophomore set. All this labor produces fetching magazine covers -- sometimes accompanied by good copy within -- and grabbing videos but it undoes her records, since we always hear her fighting to be frivolous. And all Perry wants to do is have fun: all she wants is to frolic in the spotlight, and she’ll follow the path of others to get there, raising eyebrows a’la Alanis, strutting like Gwen Stefani and relying on Britney’s hitmaker Max Martin for her hooks. There’s no question Perry is smart enough to know every rule in pop but she’s not inspired enough to ignore them, almost seeming nervous to break away from the de rigeur lite club beats that easily transition from day to night or the chilly, stainless-steel ballads designed to lose none of their luster on repeat plays. Perry acknowledges some shifting trends -- she salutes fellow attention-whore Ke$ha on “Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.),” replicates Ryan Tedder’s glassy robotic alienation on “E.T.” but tellingly avoids ripping off Lady Gaga, who is just too meta for the blunt Katy -- but these are merely accents to her old One of the Boys palette. And, once again, the music feels familiar, so Perry distinguishes herself through desperate vulgarity, wooing a suitor with “you make me feel like I’m losing my virginity,” extolling the virtues of blackouts and an accidental ménage a trois, melting popsicles, pleading for a boy to show her his “Peacock” (chanting “cock cock cock” just in case we at home didn’t get the single entendre). All this stylized provocation is exhausting, and not just because there’s so much of it (none of it actually arousing). It’s tiring because, at her heart, Perry is old-fashioned and is invested in none of her aggressive teasing. Not for nothing did she give her best post-One of the Boys song, “I Do Not Hook Up,” to Kelly Clarkson; its pro-abstinence rally flies in the face of the masturbatory daydream she’s constructed. It's ironic that her best song finds her lurking behind the scenes, because Perry's greatest talent is to be a willing cog in the pop machine, delivering sleek singles like “Teenage Dream” and “Hummingbird Heartbeat” with efficiency. Isolated on the radio, the way “Hot N Cold” was in 2009, these singles will wind up obscuring the overheated and undercooked nature of Teenage Dream as a whole. Then again, the album itself is almost incidental to the self-styled fantasy that Katy Perry sells with this entire project. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Pop - Released January 1, 2012 | Capitol Records

Nothing comes naturally for Katy Perry. Blessed with a cheerleader’s body, the face of a second-chair clarinetist and a drama club queen’s lust for the spotlight, Perry parlayed all these qualities into success via her 2008 pop debut One of the Boys, an album that worked overtime to titillate. Working hard is Katy Perry’s stock in trade: whether she’s cavorting in the Californian sun or heaving her cleavage, she always lets you see her sweat, an effect that undercuts her status as a curvy Teenage Dream, the ideal she puts forth on her 2010 sophomore set. All this labor produces fetching magazine covers -- sometimes accompanied by good copy within -- and grabbing videos but it undoes her records, since we always hear her fighting to be frivolous. And all Perry wants to do is have fun: all she wants is to frolic in the spotlight, and she’ll follow the path of others to get there, raising eyebrows a’la Alanis, strutting like Gwen Stefani and relying on Britney’s hitmaker Max Martin for her hooks. There’s no question Perry is smart enough to know every rule in pop but she’s not inspired enough to ignore them, almost seeming nervous to break away from the de rigeur lite club beats that easily transition from day to night or the chilly, stainless-steel ballads designed to lose none of their luster on repeat plays. Perry acknowledges some shifting trends -- she salutes fellow attention-whore Ke$ha on “Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.),” replicates Ryan Tedder’s glassy robotic alienation on “E.T.” but tellingly avoids ripping off Lady Gaga, who is just too meta for the blunt Katy -- but these are merely accents to her old One of the Boys palette. And, once again, the music feels familiar, so Perry distinguishes herself through desperate vulgarity, wooing a suitor with “you make me feel like I’m losing my virginity,” extolling the virtues of blackouts and an accidental ménage a trois, melting popsicles, pleading for a boy to show her his “Peacock” (chanting “cock cock cock” just in case we at home didn’t get the single entendre). All this stylized provocation is exhausting, and not just because there’s so much of it (none of it actually arousing). It’s tiring because, at her heart, Perry is old-fashioned and is invested in none of her aggressive teasing. Not for nothing did she give her best post-One of the Boys song, “I Do Not Hook Up,” to Kelly Clarkson; its pro-abstinence rally flies in the face of the masturbatory daydream she’s constructed. It's ironic that her best song finds her lurking behind the scenes, because Perry's greatest talent is to be a willing cog in the pop machine, delivering sleek singles like “Teenage Dream” and “Hummingbird Heartbeat” with efficiency. Isolated on the radio, the way “Hot N Cold” was in 2009, these singles will wind up obscuring the overheated and undercooked nature of Teenage Dream as a whole. Then again, the album itself is almost incidental to the self-styled fantasy that Katy Perry sells with this entire project. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Pop - Released January 1, 2013 | Capitol Records (CAP)

Teenage Dream did its job. With its five number one singles, the 2010 album turned Katy Perry into a genuine superstar, the kind of musician whose image rivaled her music in popularity, the kind who could topline her own 3-D theatrical documentary, the kind whose name became shorthand for a sugar-pop sensibility. This meant there was only one thing left for her to do on its 2013 sequel, Prism: to make a graceful pivot from teen dream to serious, mature artist. Prism hits these marks precisely yet isn't stuffy, not with its feints at trap-rap, but even with the preponderance of nightclub glitz, there isn't a shadow of a doubt that Katy Perry has toned down her cheesecake burlesque, opting for a hazy, dreamy, sun-kissed hippie Californian ideal that quietly replaces the happily vulgar pinup of her earliest years. All the lingering nastiness of One of the Boys -- the smiling Mean Girl backstabbing of "Ur So Gay," for instance -- and the pneumatic Playboy fantasy of Teenage Dream are unceremoniously abandoned in favor of Perry's candy construct of a chipper, cheerful grown-up prom princess, the popular girl who has left all her sneering dismissals in the past. Perry remains a terminal flirt but she channels her energies into long-term relationships -- the sexiest song, "Birthday," is a glorious retro-disco explosion delivered to a steady boyfriend, while elsewhere she testifies toward unconditional love -- and the overall effect transforms Prism into a relatively measured, savvy adult contemporary album, one that's aware of the latest fashions but is designed to fit into Katy's retirement plan. Ultimately, this makes Prism a tighter, cleaner record than its predecessors -- there are no extremes here, nothing that pushes the boundaries of either good taste or tackiness; even when she cheers on excess on "This Is How We Do" she's not a participant but rather a ringmaster, encouraging her fans to spend money they don't have just so they can have a good time. Ultimately, this sense of reserve reveals just how canny Katy Perry really is: she's determined to give her career a dramatic narrative arc, eager to leave behind the bawdy recklessness of her early years in favor of something that's age appropriate. That's why the lead single from Prism was "Roar," an homage to Sara Bareilles so transparent that the singer/songwriter may deserve co-credit: the inspirational adult contemporary single signaled how Perry no longer views herself as a fluffy confection but rather a showbiz staple who'll be here for years and years, and Prism fully lives up to that carefully constructed ideal. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Pop - Released June 8, 2018 | Capitol Records (CAP)

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Pop - Released August 28, 2020 | Capitol Records

As an album title, Smile carries an air of determined pleasantry, and Katy Perry could use her share of good spirits in 2020. Witness, Smile's predecessor, found Perry pushing her artistic limits, an exercise that didn't find an audience, so she's chosen to retreat to safe territory for Smile. Mostly, this results in Perry devoting herself to dance-pop that's coolly glassy on the surface and vaguely positive underneath. It's dance music that's not intended for the club; rather, it's a soundtrack for everyday events, from work to exercise to relaxation. It's also music that tacitly acknowledges that Katy Perry is beginning her slow transition away from pop culture's center stage. She's not ready to yield the spotlight, yet there's a distinct sensation that she's following fashions on Smile, not setting them. Perhaps it's how the album's overall vibe is sunny and melodic, focused on songs, not beats. It's an aesthetic that's completely in line with Teenage Dream, an album that celebrated its tenth anniversary the week of Smile's release, yet everything on this 2020 record is a bit streamlined and mellow; there are no moments of exuberance, no dirty jokes, no hip-hop, no bubblegum, only affirmations, love songs, breezy trifles, and paeans to resilience. Without fleeting moments of bad taste, Perry does indeed sound mature, but she's also not quite as fun. That's a conscious choice, though. Smile is intended to evoke memories of her frivolous younger days while pointing toward a sustainable pop future. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Pop - Released August 28, 2020 | Capitol Records

As an album title, Smile carries an air of determined pleasantry, and Katy Perry could use her share of good spirits in 2020. Witness, Smile's predecessor, found Perry pushing her artistic limits, an exercise that didn't find an audience, so she's chosen to retreat to safe territory for Smile. Mostly, this results in Perry devoting herself to dance-pop that's coolly glassy on the surface and vaguely positive underneath. It's dance music that's not intended for the club; rather, it's a soundtrack for everyday events, from work to exercise to relaxation. It's also music that tacitly acknowledges that Katy Perry is beginning her slow transition away from pop culture's center stage. She's not ready to yield the spotlight, yet there's a distinct sensation that she's following fashions on Smile, not setting them. Perhaps it's how the album's overall vibe is sunny and melodic, focused on songs, not beats. It's an aesthetic that's completely in line with Teenage Dream, an album that celebrated its tenth anniversary the week of Smile's release, yet everything on this 2020 record is a bit streamlined and mellow; there are no moments of exuberance, no dirty jokes, no hip-hop, no bubblegum, only affirmations, love songs, breezy trifles, and paeans to resilience. Without fleeting moments of bad taste, Perry does indeed sound mature, but she's also not quite as fun. That's a conscious choice, though. Smile is intended to evoke memories of her frivolous younger days while pointing toward a sustainable pop future. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Rock - Released January 1, 2010 | Capitol Records

Nothing comes naturally for Katy Perry. Blessed with a cheerleader’s body, the face of a second-chair clarinetist and a drama club queen’s lust for the spotlight, Perry parlayed all these qualities into success via her 2008 pop debut One of the Boys, an album that worked overtime to titillate. Working hard is Katy Perry’s stock in trade: whether she’s cavorting in the Californian sun or heaving her cleavage, she always lets you see her sweat, an effect that undercuts her status as a curvy Teenage Dream, the ideal she puts forth on her 2010 sophomore set. All this labor produces fetching magazine covers -- sometimes accompanied by good copy within -- and grabbing videos but it undoes her records, since we always hear her fighting to be frivolous. And all Perry wants to do is have fun: all she wants is to frolic in the spotlight, and she’ll follow the path of others to get there, raising eyebrows a’la Alanis, strutting like Gwen Stefani and relying on Britney’s hitmaker Max Martin for her hooks. There’s no question Perry is smart enough to know every rule in pop but she’s not inspired enough to ignore them, almost seeming nervous to break away from the de rigeur lite club beats that easily transition from day to night or the chilly, stainless-steel ballads designed to lose none of their luster on repeat plays. Perry acknowledges some shifting trends -- she salutes fellow attention-whore Ke$ha on “Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.),” replicates Ryan Tedder’s glassy robotic alienation on “E.T.” but tellingly avoids ripping off Lady Gaga, who is just too meta for the blunt Katy -- but these are merely accents to her old One of the Boys palette. And, once again, the music feels familiar, so Perry distinguishes herself through desperate vulgarity, wooing a suitor with “you make me feel like I’m losing my virginity,” extolling the virtues of blackouts and an accidental ménage a trois, melting popsicles, pleading for a boy to show her his “Peacock” (chanting “cock cock cock” just in case we at home didn’t get the single entendre). All this stylized provocation is exhausting, and not just because there’s so much of it (none of it actually arousing). It’s tiring because, at her heart, Perry is old-fashioned and is invested in none of her aggressive teasing. Not for nothing did she give her best post-One of the Boys song, “I Do Not Hook Up,” to Kelly Clarkson; its pro-abstinence rally flies in the face of the masturbatory daydream she’s constructed. It's ironic that her best song finds her lurking behind the scenes, because Perry's greatest talent is to be a willing cog in the pop machine, delivering sleek singles like “Teenage Dream” and “Hummingbird Heartbeat” with efficiency. Isolated on the radio, the way “Hot N Cold” was in 2009, these singles will wind up obscuring the overheated and undercooked nature of Teenage Dream as a whole. Then again, the album itself is almost incidental to the self-styled fantasy that Katy Perry sells with this entire project. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Dance - Released January 1, 2011 | Capitol Records

Artist

Katy Perry in the magazine
  • Katy Perry - If it ain't broke don't fix it
    Katy Perry - If it ain't broke don't fix it It comes as no great surprise that Smile, Katy Perry’s fifth album, doesn’t buck the trend of her previous work, which has been at the heart of the American pop scene for the last ten years.