Perry releases fourth studio album which debuts at number one on the Billboard charts

Katy Perry has been writing music for her latest album since June last year. That’s not a particularly long time to wait for an album in the grand scheme of things, but she managed to up the excitement fairly early on with the release of ‘Rise’. The standalone single released in July 2016, was an inspirational anthem that played at the 2016 Summer Olympics during NBC Sports’s coverage.

Perry explained that she decided to release it as a standalone “because of now more than ever, there is a need for our world to unite”. The song reached number one in Australia and number 11 in the US.

That, combined with her handful of fairly successful releases and collaborations in the time since has meant that the album launched last week was hotly anticipated by a global audience.

Fans of that track will certainly not be disappointed with Witness. It more than embraces the inspirational style established in ‘Rise’, which comes as no surprise. None of these new songs mark the first time that Perry has focussed on self-empowerment and strength in her music.

Throughout the course of the album, she explores the universal themes of helplessness, confusion, heartache and depression. In this respect, Witness has a certain realism about it. Even the love songs steer clear of the commonly referenced fairy tale romances and subsequent heartaches. Instead, for instance, she has focussed on the sense of confusion you feel figuring out what to do with all your time and energy following a much-needed break-up and missing someone you weren’t all that smitten with in the first place.

Still, in every song, she finds a way to push through and turn the track into something defiant and positive. They’re catchy, too. Almost every song has a memorable hook of its own and at least a couple of lines that you know you’re going to have trouble getting out of your head. It’s these lyrics that are usually the most upbeat ones, the insistence that no matter what you’ll get through and persist.

In September last year, Perry told Ryan Seacrest that, “I’m just having a lot of fun, but experimenting and trying different producers, and different collaborators, and different styles”. While there are some aspects that feel like new ground for her as an artist, the album still feels distinctly and recognisably Katy Perry. It could be in part because of her familiar positivity, but overall it doesn’t feel all that different from her previous work.

The unique tracks on the album are the ones that have had a lot of input from other artists. For instance, Nicky Minaj’s input on ‘Swish Swish’ has definitely pulled Perry out of her comfort zone. And it has created a song that neither feels entirely Katy Perry nor entirely Nicki Minaj in a fusion that is genuinely unique for both artists. 

All in all, Perry hasn’t done anything particularly ground-breaking with her new album, but she has done what she does best. She’s written songs that are relatable and that ultimately – help you to feel like you can take on whatever the world throws at you.