Positive, fun pop music has become Katy Perry’s brand for years to come. Her songs raised the mood, were constantly played at parties and even helped to believe in yourself. The new album “Smile” was no exception: if you are at least superficially familiar with the work of Perry, you can roughly imagine how the fresh record sounds. According to Katy Perry, she wrote the title song during one of the darkest periods of her life, when she “lost her smile”, but was able to regain it and start enjoying life again.
All the songs from “Smile” could easily have been released in the early 2010s. And most likely, they would have become popular. But now the world has changed, the trends are completely different, so “Smile” sounds somewhat old-fashioned. Most likely, for the same reason, not a single song from it became a major hit. Interestingly, the release of “Smile” almost coincided with the tenth anniversary of the main album in Katy Perry’s career “Teenage Dream” – its release took place on August 24, 2010.
Now Katy Perry is 35 years old, a day before the release of a new album, she gave birth to a daughter, and the charts are ruled by 20-year-old rappers. Its positive energy is no longer carried off its feet, although it has not lost its attractiveness.
The best thing on the album “Smile” is the opening song “Never Really Over”. It would be ideal if all the other songs were made in the same style: on the one hand, in this song, Perry remained herself, on the other – sounded new, fresh and modern. By the way, this is the only track that reached at least the top 20 of the Billboard Hot 100. For comparison, five singles from “Teenage Dream” topped the Billboard Hot 100. Before that, only Michael Jackson could boast of such an achievement.
Other good songs from the new album are “Cry About It Later”, “Teary Eyes”, “Harleys In Hawaii”and the title track “Smile”. They are not as bright as the previous hits of the singer, they are cut according to a standard formula, but they cope with their main task – they give optimism, create fun and a festive atmosphere.
This is not to say that Katy Perry has never tried experimenting. On the previous album “Witness” (2017), I tried again. But it failed in the charts, and the singer was never a favorite of critics, and “Witness” was no exception, although it turned out to be quite interesting.
“Smile” did not go to the critics either-Pitchfork gave it 5.7 points out of 10, and Clash music-2 points out of 10. One of the most frequent complaints about the album “Smile” is weak lyrics full of cliches. And while they’re not really original, the lyrics have never been Katy Perry’s strong suit. What is the first line of “Firework” – “Do you ever feel like a plastic bag?”. It even became a meme. But “Firework” will still remain one of the best songs in the artist’s discography (if not the best).
In General, the album “Smile” makes a mixed impression: there are successful songs, there are average ones, and there are frankly weak ones. Among the latter – “Resilient”. One hundred thousandth variation on the theme “I am strong, I will break through, everything will be fine”. The idea is beautiful and useful – but there were already so many such songs that one idea is not enough for a long time. Slow songs like “What Makes A Woman” (which the singer dedicated to her newborn daughter) were not very expressive.
A week before “Smile”, the Killers ‘sixth album”Imploding the Mirage” was released. Both Katy Perry and Brandon flowers are loved for their upbeat creativity. But the Killers ‘ music has never been tied to an age category (despite the fact that Perry and flowers are almost the same age). A huge number of Katy Perry’s fans are children and teenagers, and her most important album is called “Teenage Dream”. There was always a certain frivolity and fabulousness in Perry’s music, for which she was scolded by critics and loved by young listeners. So the Killers just needed to get back in shape, and Katy Perry was in a more difficult situation.
Katy Perry seems to be stuck at a crossroads. Releasing hits like “Hot’n’cold”, “California Gurls” and “Roar” is forever impossible. It lasted more than five years – it’s not too short. When Perry decided to experiment on the album “Witness”, there was a failure. Target a young audience? They already have other idols. Take risks and grow up abruptly? It might not work either. That’s why “Smile” was so ambiguous. However, Katy Perry fans who are nostalgic for the early 2010s, and anyone who loves pop music in its purest form, should listen to it.