Katy Perry, “Prism”

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Katy Perry has always been one of my guilty pleasures.  I never really wanted to admit that I liked her music, but I did.  It was catchy.  It was fun.  It was also trashy.

I’m sorry, did I say was?

I was hoping to find something different than the typical Katy Perry when I came to this album.  I was hoping for depth, optimism . . . something different than sex.  I did . . . sort of.  What I found was an album with songs about sex, although not all of them are that way.  Enough are that way, however, that the album never truly redeems itself.

The first song, the hit single “Roar” that everyone that isn’t undead has heard, gave me hope for the album.  It was catchy, fun, and clean.  Perry sings about not being a pushover, with lines like “I went from zero to my own hero” and “Like thunder (I’m) gonna shake the ground.”  That hope is quickly squashed.  Less squashed than shredded with a chainsaw, actually.

From then on, the album goes downhill pretty quick.  “Legendary Lovers,” while not explicit, suggests extramarital relations.  “Birthday” is a reference to “birthday suit” and “Walking on Air” pushes the envelope even more.

Musically, Ms. Perry has outdone herself.  Nearly every song is single-worthy with catchy melodies, compelling instrumentation, and creative arrangements.  That in and of itself, however, makes it even more dangerous.  We don’t have any problem casting off the trashy songs that aren’t catchy.  It’s the aesthetically pleasing yet morally profane songs that give us trouble.  That force us to make a choice.

Not every song is plagued by this kind of depravity.  “Unconditional” is about unconditional love.  “This Moment” is a heartfelt love song.  These moments of positivity are nice, but they’re overshadowed by the sheer weight of the glorification of sex.  If you’re looking for depth, look elsewhere.

Song Breakdown

Roar

Assuming you aren’t tired of it yet, this is a good song.  It’s one of the catchiest songs that Katy Perry has ever released, and speaks of no longer being a pushover.  That can be sketchy territory, but it never really ventures into the wrong.  It even contains a snippet of good advice: “I stood for nothing/So I fell for everything.”

4/5

 

Legendary Lovers

It’s unfortunate how catchy this one is, because it’s all trashy fluff.  It’s nothing more than an affair in music: “Take me down to the river/Underneath the blood orange sun/Say my name like a scripture/Keep my heart beating like a drum.”  It isn’t explicit, but we can guess what she’s saying.

2/5

 

Birthday

This is probably the catchiest song on the record, and it’s easy to get it stuck in your head.  That’s not a good thing.  The song is fairly vague until the chorus: “So let me get you in your birthday suit.”  There are other lines I don’t think I should share here.  It’s bad.

1/5

 

Walking On Air

This song has a cool euphoric feel to it, which is the idea.  It pushes the envelope more, referencing “erotica” among other things.  She says “I’m walking on air,” but sexuality is the reason for that, apparently.  Can you get any more shallow?

1/5

 

Unconditionally

This is the first decent song lyrically on the album since “Roar,” but isn’t as interesting musically.  I’m pretty quickly bored by it.  The lyrics are redemptive, however: “I will love you unconditionally.”

3/5

 

Dark Horse

This song is a departure from the album musically, and feels quite forced, especially with Juicy J featuring (yeah, I had never heard of him either).  It also has a really weird slow-mo voice that really ruins the song and with lines such as “Make me your Aphrodite” and “She’s a beast,” it’s not good from any aspect.

1/5

 

This Is How We Do

This song begins with a cool ‘80s feel, but is immediately ruined by the curse of the slow-mo voice.  Seriously.  Who told her that was cool?  Lyrically the song presents few problems, other than a couple references to drinking, it’s just a song about enjoying life.

3/5

 

International Smile

This song is another catchy tune and seems like it’s going to be okay until Katy drops the line “But she’s pole dancing so fancy free.”  The song as a whole seems to be playing up the model/actress image of woman, bringing women down to our modern society’s level of value.  That’s pretty despicable, no matter who it comes from.

1/5

 

Ghost

Singing through a tough and surprising breakup has its value, but I have to say, the song is pretty boring.  It also seems to border on vilifying the ex: “You could be so cold/Like a stranger, vanish like a vapor.”

2/5

 

Love Me

At this point, the album really needs a more energetic tune.  It’s getting too slow too quickly, and this song in particular takes too long to get going.  It also contains a trace of the selfishness inherent in modern psychology’s self-esteem trash: “I’m gonna love myself, the way I want you to love me.”

2/5

 

This Moment

The beginning of this song sounds a little techno.  It’s kind of odd, but it’s a welcome change in momentum.  It’s a ballad, but it isn’t as boring as the previous two.  It also contains some good lyrics: “But maybe one day you will find/That you just can’t push rewind.”

4/5

 

Double Rainbow

This is a sweet love song that is somewhat cliché, but I don’t mind that much.  The lyrics are not only appropriate, but somewhat clever: “They say that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure/But two of us together make everything glitter.”

4/5

 

By The Grace Of God

This is the only piano ballad on the album, and, coincidentally, the only five-star song on the album too.  My first thought in hearing this song was why hasn’t she been doing this the whole album?  This style fits her so much better.  The lyrics are painful but helpful: “Thought I wasn’t enough/Found I wasn’t so tough” and “By the grace of God (there was no other way)/I picked myself back up (I knew I had to stay)”

5/5

 

Logan Judy
Logan Judy is a Christian blogger and science fiction author with a Batman complex. At Cross Culture, Logan writes about film, comics, cultural analysis, and whatever else strikes his fancy. In addition to his work at Cross Culture, Logan also blogs and podcasts at A Clear Lens. You can find him tweeting about Batman, apologetics, and why llamas will one day rule the world, @loganrjudy.
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