Katy Perry’s “Witness” Album Review

Hello, I’m MusiCommentator, and it’s almost the end of June.  The start of summer has passed and we are in the midst of freedom.  So, what better way to kick-start the beginning of July with my FIRST ALBUM REVIEW.

Here is how I will have my album reviews set up: the beginning will be a brief introduction/history of the artist and the album.  Then, I will give a small synopsis of each song and my opinions on them.  Finally, I will have a summary at the end describing my feelings towards the album as a whole, list my favorite and least favorite song, and give the album a rating from 1-10.  Now that you know how it works, let’s start the review for Katy Perry’s new album “Witness”.

So, Katy Perry has been a pop sensation for a while.  Born Katheryn Elizabeth Hudson, Katy Perry started her singing career by singing at church during her childhood.  She went out into gospel music and released her first album in 2001 under the name Katy Hudson, which flopped terribly later.  Later, she moved to LA made “One Of Them Boys”, which produced hits like “I Kissed A Girl” and “Hot n Cold”.  These songs definitely got the public eyes’ attention, but she solidified herself as a pop icon with the release of “Teenage Dream”, which was the first album made by a girl to produce five #1 songs on the Billboard Hot 100.  “Prism” came three years later, only making her more popular.

Now, it’s 2017, and it had been four whole years since Katy Perry had made an album, or really even been in the public eye.  The only single she made between “Prism” and “Witness” was “Rise”, which was an inspirational anthem for the 2016 Olympics.  Now, she had released her new album “Witness”, and this one is much different from her others.  During the months before its release, Perry has been promoting her album by showing her more “conscious” side.  She has made it clear to anyone listening that she is now a more conscious woman, aware of more things, and ready to share her thoughts through her music.  This album “Witness”, is supposed to show us Katy’s more powerful and conscious side.  The question is, “Is she actually conscious now?”  Let’s find out.

Song Synopses:

#1: Witness

The album starts off with the title track, and to me, it’s a bit strange that she would make this the first one because it’s really not that “conscious” in a traditional sense.  There was one line in the chorus that stuck out as pretty conscious, which was “We’re all just looking for connection/Yeah we all want to be seen” (the “/” means it moves on to the next line, by the way).  This pairs of lines is showing that we all want someone, and through the song, Katy is using it to reflect on her own life.  However, besides that, and maybe the pre-chorus, the song is not too conscious like that.  It’s more about her want for love.  That does not make it a bad song, though.  It has some pretty good lyrics and the sorrowful guitar at the beginning is a really nice touch.  I guess I just expected the title track to be more of a thesis statement to what Katy wants to album to be, and since she was portraying it as conscious, I was just expecting something like that.  The song’s not great, but it’s good.  I’d probably listen to this song again in the future.

#2: Hey Hey Hey

Gosh, where do I even begin with this song?  It’s basically Katy saying that she is like a girl, but also a powerful person.  I have nothing wrong with this concept, but it is executed so poorly in this song.  She basically makes all these contrasting comparisons throughout the entirety of the song, and they are pretty much all terrible.  “A babydoll with a briefcase”,”Red lipstick but still so raw”, and probably the worst one “Marilyn Monroe in a monster truck”.  And those are all from the first verse!  You can tell, also, that she is trying to make this one of her conscious songs, for one of the lines in the pre-chorus says “Karate chopping the clichés and the norms all in a dress”.  I think she is trying to make this a feminist anthem.  It might have worked as that if the analogies were not so cringeworthy.  I am definitely avoiding this song at all costs.

#3: Roulette

For the third track, Katy Perry made a song about just letting go, and I can definitely respect a song like that.  Life can be stressful, and just taking some time to not let it bother you can be good.  However, I can’t help but get past how weak of a metaphor roulette is for this song.  In the chorus, she uses the comparisons “Like roulette/Wanna close my eyes and roll it with you/Like roulette/Wanna lose control and forget with you”.  I understand the rolling part, and you lose control when you finally decide your number, but you really don’t close your eyes in that game, and you shouldn’t be able to forget it unless you’ve had a shot too many.  But, maybe I’m being too critical here.  It’s just a pop song meant to fuel your emotions to let go.  The song isn’t bad, it’s just kind of forgettable.  There is nothing in it that is making me go back for a second listen.

#4: Swish Swish (ft. Nicki Minaj)

The third single for the album, this song is a response to Taylor Swift’s diss against Katy “Bad Blood”.  Katy’s counter to Taylor’s song pretty much says how silly the beef is and gets some shots against Taylor, and it’s honestly a pretty good song.  Besides for the receipt line, all of Katy’s disses are pretty good.  The melodic drums make for a great beat, and it only gets better in the chorus.  The only part I could really complain about is Nicki’s verse.  I don’t like Nicki Minaj in general and she really doesn’t add anything to the track.  It feels like she taking more shots at Remy Ma than at Taylor Swift.  Plus, I find it kind of silly to add her on, since she isn’t beefing with Katy.  It would be like if Taylor put Lil Kim or Azealia Banks on the track (well, she did put Kendrick Lamar on the remix, but I’m rambling now).  Despite Nicki, I actually like the song a lot.  I would definitely listen to it in the future.

#5: Deja Vu

There is really nothing wrong with the lyrics here.  None of them are too outlandish or nonsensical.  What bothers me in this song, though, is her voice.  Usually, I don’t mind Katy Perry’s voice, but there are parts in it in this song where I did not like it at all.  I used to be in choir when I was younger, so I know a little bit about shaping your mouth for vowel songs, and Katy does it awfully in some parts.  I cringe a little bit at ever vowel sound held for longer than a second in the chorus and the “torture/corner/shorter” rhyme scheme in the second verse.  Listening to this song on repeat, for me, is the “Definition of insane”.

#6: Power

For some reason, I like most songs named “Power”.  I like Kanye West’s “Power”, I like Little Mix’s “Power”, so I was excited to listen to this one.  This “Power” is basically about finding the power to stand up for yourself.  Pretty good lyrics in general, but I can’t help but think the song would be better if this power she gained was not based off another person.  In the first verse, she says how someone (probably a boy because, come on, this is still a Katy Perry song) took advantage of her “vulnerable soul”, so she gained her power through that.  I feel like it would be more self-empowering to the listener if she found the power within herself BY herself, not because of another person.  And, even though I am a big fan of the fast paced drum transition, I feel the beat doesn’t do much to back up her voice.  She is definitely bringing power to her voice, but the beat really doesn’t scream power to me.  I’d say it’s a decent song.

#7: Mind Maze

Listen, I don’t mind autotune if it is used as a stylistic choice, not a crutch.  But, this song would be much better without autotune.  It just seems pointless in this song.  I don’t even know why it is used in this song.  What’s worse than the autotune, though, are the lyrics.  This is definitely trying to be a conscious song, but it fails miserably.  From what I can tell, I believe it’s about her trying to escape the complexities of her own mind, maybe?  I can’t really tell.  Just look at the first verse:

I’m losing all direction
Slipping into quicksand
I’ve shattered the illusion
Seen behind the curtain
I’m disenchanted
Dancing on a wire
Juggling desire
Every hit gets harder
When you’re fighting without armor
I’m disheartened

I can barely tell what she is talking about.  It is just too vague for anything to be made of it.  I feel like a bunch of writers just went in a room and said “We need a song about someone trying to escape the darkness of one’s own mind” and they just put a bunch of clichés together that faintly relate to the topic.  While I do like the moody instrumentals, I am not going back to this song.

#8: Miss You More

Right after leaving a cruddy song, we get a good one.  This song is about her reflecting on a past relationship, and it is done very well.  She sings about her struggles with being split up, and the line in the chorus “I miss you more than I loved you” is a very good sentiment.  It is saying that she feels more emotions about them being apart than together, which a very conscious thing to think about a relationship.  The only complaint I have of this song is this line “I saw a balloon floating away/I thought did someone let go or did they lose it?”, which, while I know it is a metaphor, feels too childish compared to the maturity of the rest of the song.  But, nonetheless, this is a song I would frequently go back to.

#9: Chained To The Rhythm

This was the first single for the album and it started her conscious persona, so this has to have some good, mindful points, right?  Well, kind of.  It is basically talking about how technology-obsessed today’s society is and how we try to think everything is so normal.  While these points are valid and she does a good job pointing them out, she doesn’t really do anything to try to solve them.  Maybe I’m just expecting too much here, but if you’re going to point out these major problems in our society, Katy, don’t you think you should give a solution, too.  I mean, it is obvious to most that technology rules a lot of the Earth.  If you are just going to point out the obvious, I’ll watch a Hotels.com commercial instead.  But, the beat for the song is good, Skip Marley does a good job on the bridge, and it is definitely a good opener to her “conscious” side.

#10: Tsunami

So, this song is about Katy and her partner romantically loving each other (if you know what I mean).  And, hey, I can respect a song like that.  Many old and new R&B songs handle this topic very well.  Katy may be able to make a good song about it to.  Since the title is “Tsunami”, it also involves a lot of water metaphors.  Some of them are good, like “Sink into me slowly” (as an anchor would) or “Don’t be scared to dive in deep”.  But, these few good lines come with a lot of bad ones.  Some of these include “The world’s your oyster and I am the pearl” and, the worst one in the whole song “Make me ripple ’til I’m wavy”.  That doesn’t make any sense.  I mean, it’s obviously about sexual pleasure, but the metaphor is just so messed up that it makes the whole song worse, especially since it’s in the chorus.  Let’s just move on to the next song.

#11: Bon Appetit

No, please, go back!  This song is even worse!  This song is similar to Tsunami, except “romantic love” is changed to “oral stimulation” and the water puns are changed to food puns.  And let me tell you, these are some of the worst metaphors I’ve ever heard.  Katy Perry sings “All that you can have, boy/Got me spread like a buffet” and “Fresh out the oven/Melt in your mouth kind of lovin'”, and that’s just the chorus.  She continues on with her figurative language with lines like “I’m a five star Michelin/A Kobe flown in”, “Eat with your hands, fine/I’m on the menu”, and “Hope you’ve got some room/For the world’s best cherry pie/Gotta hit that sweet tooth”.  If you’re still not convinced this song is awful, then take a look at some of Migos’s lines.  Takeoff gives us the great imagery of “No waterfall, she drippin’ wet”, Offset continues on with “I grab her legs and now divide, aight/Make her do a donut when she ride”, and Quavo tops off this delectable song with “Sweet tooth, no tooth fairy/Whipped cream, no dairy/Got her hot light on, screaming ‘I’m ready’/But no horses, no carriage”.  To you English teachers out there, there IS such a thing as too much figurative language, and this is the prime example.  I’d rather listen to Tsunami ten times than this once.  Please, Katy Perry, don’t make any more sex songs…ever.

#12: Bigger Than Me

Before I start ripping on this song, I’ll say that the beat and vocal sample are pretty good.  But, otherwise, this song somewhat reminds me of “Mind Maze” due to the fact that it is so vague.  She says “It’s something bigger than me/And I can feel it happening”, but she never says what it bigger than her or what is happening.  There is no real indication as what the thing that is bigger than her could be.  Also, look at the pre-chorus:

I’m kicking and screaming
‘Cause it won’t be easy
To break all the patterns
If I’m not evolving
I’m just another robot
Taking up oxygen

Oh, come on Katy.  You’re a multi-millionaire popstar.  You are definitely doing more than taking up oxygen.  The only thing I can come up with as what the “big thing” might be is her label.  I know labels are infamous for controlling music, but their tight hand on your music has probably brought you to this level of fame.  Don’t be complaining about that, Katy.  If this song comes up again, I’ll probably skip it.

#13: Save As Draft

I don’t know what it is, but I can’t stand songs that use technology and social media in relation with love.  I mean, I’m one year away from being a millennial, so I don’t think it should bother me, but it really does.  It just makes the song sound immature.  Maybe that’s just me, but it makes this song a bit worse to my ears.  The lines “You don’t have to subtweet me/My number’s always been the same” and “So I take a deep breath and I save as draft” don’t sound as meaningful or deep as they were probably intended to.  This song also has a few other bad lines, like “Sometimes I swear I pass your SUV on Sunset Boulevard”, which sounds like it came from a high school poetry reading, and “I don’t f*ck with change, but lately I’ve been flipping coins a lot”, which is just a terrible double-entendre.  However, I think some of the other lines are very meaningful, and the way the key click is used as the drum for the first verse is very creative.

#14: Pendulum

Have you ever heard a positive, upbeat song that talks inspirational but just seems so faux-happy that it loses its point.  That is pretty much this song.  The whole message could just be described as “You’re down now, but you’ll be up soon”, which is pretty much the message of all songs like this.  When I look at the lyrics, there is really no originality.  Also, in the chorus, Katy sings “Life’s a pendulum, it all comes back around”, but pendulums only go side to side.  You may think I’m being picky here, but this line just shows how much thought was put into the song.  The gospel choir is a nice touch, but that is one of this song’s only upsides.

#15: Into Me You See

Being the last song on the album, it kind of reminds me of the first song.  In “Witness”, she was trying to find someone to be hers, and in this song, we see her finding her witness that she was looking for.  The lyrics are very thoughtful on this track.  She describes herself on a personal level as she says “I built a wall so high, no one could reach/A life of locks, I swallowed all the keys”.  She details herself being saved as well: “Then you came and started digging for a treasure underneath/And you found a better version of me I had never seen”.  Unlike in “Pendulum”, you can tell that she is really connected to these lyrics.  Plus, Hot Chip does a good job on the production.

Summary:

This album pretty much had two types of songs: half of it was songs about love and the other half was releasing her conscious side.  Most of the loves songs were the best ones on this album, probably because she is more comfortable with making songs like that.  However, her attempt at being conscious, in my opinion, flopped.  Any time she was being conscious in any of the songs, she either addressed the topic with such a warped view that it was too hard to understand or she (pardon my French) pussyfooted around the topic instead of digging deeper, and all these topics she really did not touch on would have been really good if she went at them better.  Despite this, her vocals were good on almost all the songs, and the production was amazing.  I could not find one track on here where I even slightly disliked the production.  That is probably the best part of the album  I will say in the future, though, she just stick with her songs about love, for those were the best songs on “Witness”.

If I had to pick a favorite, it would probably be “Swish Swish”.  While I said the love songs were the best, this one was probably better.  While this one is neither about love nor trying to be conscious, it is cool to see her actually be a powerful woman on this track.  She was trying to stand up for herself on the track “Power”, but this track executes that power much better.  The worst track was “Hey Hey Hey”.  Though “Mind Maze” is a close second, “Hey Hey Hey” just had too many cringey lines to for it to be salvaged.  I’m definitely throwing this track out.

Overall, I’d give Katy Perry’s “Witness” a 6 out of 10.

Thank you for reading my first album review.  If you liked this review, make sure to follow my website, like this post, and be sure to check in to read my future reviews.  Also, since this was my first album review, tell me if you liked the layout and structure of it.  Until my next review, keep listening to good music!  I know I will.

 

 

 

Advertisement

5 thoughts on “Katy Perry’s “Witness” Album Review

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s