Katy Perry's going to have another No. 1 hit this year, that much is true.
She might not bat five home runs like Teenage Dream, but from the first listen, Prism presents an iconic line up. She takes the sexiness from her previous works and mixes in maturity that will appeal to a wide audience.
That said, Prism as a whole is not as strong of a complete record. As the album progresses, the variety blurs together, and Katy's emotional resonance becomes less apparent. It falls victim to all the better songs fronting the album, with the more wispy songs ending it.
"Roar": Even after the umpteenth listen, this track remains anthemic and empowering. The lyrics might be derivative ("I got the eye of the tiger"), but the combined feline/champion motifs compliment her vocals, which you can dig into.
"Legendary Lovers": The album's off to an awesome start. "Lovers" deviates from the norm with its mystical concepts and banging drums. Prepare for the chorus to get stuck in your head!
"Birthday": I'm not as excited for this song as some other people. It lacks flavor like the rest of the first half, but its guitar work makes "Birthday" a radio shoo-in. Not to mention, it has a few standout euphemisms. Birthday suits and big balloons? It's Teenage Dream all over again.
"Walking On Air": This '90s-inspired dance jam deserves radio play. The chorus might be lyrical filler, but that doesn't stop the song's drive. Katy Perry manages to be tastefully sensual with words like "erotica" and "ecstasy." Although the lines "Heaven is jealous of our love / Angels are crying from up above" may not play as well to some of her Christian rock fans, the gospel choir solidifies the lyrics and make for a vibrant bridge.
"Unconditionally": I love the sentiment in this ballad single. Katy sings about accepting her lover, for rainy days and worse. It's permission to not act fake for your lover, and it's relieving. By the time the words "Open up your heart and let it begin," I was already smiling.
"Dark Horse": Katy's brush with hip-hop further boosts this record. Juicy J, however, doesn't cut it as the LP's only feature, but he keeps the beat going.
"This Is How We Do": Really, the faux-rapping here marks the album's steady downfall, but regardless, her party comes off charming. She packs in plenty of concepts in lines like "Big hoops, and maroon lips, my clique hop in my Maseratti," and the drunken, spoken-word part sways the crowd. Many will adopt this as their jam.
"International Smile": The travel theme gives Katy an excuse to namedrop counties and cities. This might sound like a rehash, but it's still material expected from an A-list pop star.
"Ghost": Here, Katy compares her ex to a ghost. Lines like "So rest in peace / I see you on the other side" might make for a good burn, but it's jarring to place this track before a straight-up love song.
"Love Me": Okay, this isn't that bad. The tempo's drive matches Katy's ownage of herself, along with following up "Unconditionally." The line "Sometimes I wish my skin was a costume / That I could just unzip, and strip" also make a nice contrast to the sexual overtones discarded two songs ago.
"This Moment": Sorry, the synths are flat, and the "seize the day" theme comes off as both sappy and a bit YOLO. No new ideas are brought to the table (pill-popping? Check. The human "race"? Check.) and none of the old ideas ring true here.
"Double Rainbow": I got excited for this track when I found out that Sia was co-writing it, but instead of capturing the magic of "Diamonds" (which Sia wrote), it's just a non-power ballad. I'm a bit disappointed, but there are a few gems to scrape -- but mostly in Katy's calm vocals. At least the Northern Lights comparison is clear.
"By the Grace of God": This album ender is held back by how subdued it is. Its pre-chorus builds up for an awesome crescendo, but the chorus settles for a floaty climax. But if there's one thing that completely saves the album's second half, it's the song's honesty. The line "I looked in the mirror and decided to stay" is intimate, with her implying that she had suicidal thoughts after divorcing Russell Brand. With the lyrics in mind, "Grace" ends the album on a personal note few artists dare to use, and I commend her for that.
So while I'll be revisiting Prism's first half, I won't ignore the entire second half. It's just not as strong. That said, the first six songs are worth it, if only because you're going to hear them non-stop for the next year. Let her shine.
What do you think of Prism? Double rainbow, or cloudy day? Sound off in the comments, or tweet @RockGenius on Twitter!
Read the annotated lyrics here: