Katy Perry gave herself a difficult task in attempting to eclipse the astounding success of her hit album “Teenage Dream.” Arriving in the wake of her extremely publicized divorce from Russell Brand, it was inevitable that her sound and message would need to evolve. The result of this effort was “Prism,” a genuine, if not shallow, effort to create an album that was simultaneously pop-esque and emotionally engaging.
The first single of the album, “Roar,” became an instant radio hit. However, it is eerily reminiscent of Sara Bareilles’ “Brave,” and doesn’t have any voice of its own. With “Roar,” Perry merely echoes other artists who champion the underdog.
The album as a whole is a disappointment. There is no cohesiveness between blatant club tracks like “This Is How We Do” and attempts at serious ballads like “Unconditionally.” Thrown in among the synthesized pop track, all “Walking On Air” just needs to be lowered two octaves and it’s a perfect hit for Justin Beiber. There’s nothing essentially “Katy” about these songs. They appear more like cheap imitations of others than an expression of Perry’s character.
The pop songs are fun but they lack the boldness of early hits like “I Kissed A Girl,” or the pure fun of “Last Friday Night” and “Teenage Dream.” Her attempts to be provocative fall short when compared with the brashness of Miley Cyrus, whose album has succeeded despite her controversial image. Although controversy is not a sign of quality, Perry’s album lacks the emotional spark necessary to make her tracks truly memorable.
On the other hand, the songs that do attempt to detail the emotions of dealing with her divorce feel shallow and forced. The hooks are catchy and the beats are pop-esque and synthesized to perfection, but the lyrics are empty and Perry’s vocal talents are overshadowed by the emotional hollowness of her songs. There is no substance to the album and, although it looks as if Perry is attempting to shed her frivolous image, the only good parts of the album are those the most like cotton candy.
The album has already been a success. Fans will not be disappointed with Perry’s work, but they will not be excited either. In an industry filling up with young artists willing to do anything to make themselves stand out, Perry risks fading into oblivion if she does not step up her creative game.