Witness is Perry’s highly anticipated fourth album, following the massive commercial success of debut album One Of The Boys, the record breaking Teenage Dream and arena crowd pleasing Prism. A few months ago, shortly after the election of Donald Trump as 45th President of the United States, Perry declared she had started a new era. She wanted to release purposeful pop music. Catchy but with a message. Fun but woke. Hence, the album’s lead single, Chained To The Rhythm, produced by legendary hitmaker Max Martin and featuring Bob Marley’s grandson, Skip. In it’s accompanying music video, Perry and her creative team cleverly hid a boatload of references to the confusing political times we’re living in.
However, her declaration of wokeness was quickly mocked online when she released the album’s second single, Bon Appetit. A song allegedly about sexual liberation according to Perry, but according to critics, a blatant attempt at a hit single by adding rap feature du jour, hip-hop trio Migos. Critics got even louder when Perry busted out some questionable looking dance moves during a recent Saturday Night Live performance of the song. She was accused of cultural appropriation and unrightfully mocked for her new short blonde hairdo.
But how much of that criticism is profound in today’s quick to judge Twittersphere? After listening to Witness, it is clear that Katy Perry is just where a lot of us are at right now: searching for answers in a very confusing time. An incompetent former real estate millionaire turned reality star is now President, seemingly reliable news is perhaps fake, musical genres have basically become irrelevant and Spotify/VEVO have replaced the importance of mainstream radio. That’s why it makes total sense this album is a mishmash of genres, producers and lyrics.
Perry is older, wiser and ready for something new. What exactly did anyone expect her to do instead? Should she have stayed quiet and released a catchy pop song about love? Whatever the public may decide, Katy Perry clearly has no time to listen to her nay-sayers as she gears up for a massive worldwide world tour in support of this album and a new gig as the highest paid judge ever on American Idol.