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“Witness” fails to bring Katy Perry into 2017

Perry’s passable fourth studio album lacks desired impact

Used+with+permission+from+Capitol+Records
Used with permission from Capitol Records

Used with permission from Capitol Records

Used with permission from Capitol Records

Coming off a multi-year hiatus, Katy Perry re-enters the music scene with her fourth studio album, titled “Witness.” Described as “purposeful pop” about Perry’s various “liberations,” “Witness” fails to leave an impact on listeners.

Perry’s previous album, “Prism,” was released in 2013, when mainstream music was mostly pop with influences of R&B, electronic and dance music. This climate was conducive to the success of the album’s hit singles, “Roar” and “Dark Horse.” However, since that time, mainstream music has shifted towards R&B and trap genres, with an occasional pop/electronic song achieving success.

This changed music scene presents a challenge for Perry, an artist known mostly for her pop music. In an attempt to achieve commercial success in 2017, “Witness” is crafted by multiple distinguished producers with an aim to appeal to pop, R&B, electronic and dance listeners, including Max Martin, Mike WiLL Made-It (sic), Jack Garratt and Purity Ring, respectively. Despite its consistently solid and experimental production, the album is weighed down by Perry’s off-putting lyrics and poor songwriting.

Witness,” the album’s title track, co-written by pop genius Max Martin, pairs beautiful melody with heavenly house production, ending in a melodic whistle that brings the track to a satisfying conclusion.

Power,” co-written and produced by British artist Jack Garratt, is the “Witness'” best track, serving a thumping electronic beat with the most immense production on the album. The track remains high energy throughout and is a clear highlight among its surrounding tracks.

A close second, “Pendulum,” co-written by Jeff Bhasker, deviates from the album’s electronic production; Bhasker combines a pounding piano with 80s synths and a gospel choir to craft a groovy and memorable penultimate track.

Swish Swish,” a subtle response to Taylor Swift’s “Bad Blood,” (which targeted Perry back in 2014) is another highlight, with a cool house beat and an instantly-classic Nicki Minaj feature. “Déjà Vu,” “Bigger Than Me” and “Tsunami” are good tracks as well.

Despite its highlights, the album remains fairly mediocre, the worst tracks being Sia-cowrite “Hey Hey Hey,” a grating self-empowerment anthem, and the album’s closer, “Into Me You See,” a dreadfully boring ballad.

One major issue throughout “Witness” is the dissonance between Perry’s bright pop vocals and the album’s unique production, most notably on the sensual R&B ballad, “Tsunami.” This struggle is somewhat unavoidable, in that Perry would need to either sacrifice her signature voice or her experimental sound to achieve success in this respect.

Another issue with the album as a whole is Perry’s tendency to coat her well-produced tracks with terrible lyrics, including the lines “(you’re) texting me a little bubble of trouble” on “Roulette,” “got my own cha-ching in my chubby little wallet” on “Hey Hey Hey,” “your words are like Chinese water torture” on “Déjà Vu” and “0pen sesame” on “Into Me You See.” While many pop stars should focus on improving their trite lyrics, Perry would greatly benefit from easing off the unique lyrical content of her songs, as they greatly distract from the album’s fantastic production.

Weighed down by mediocrity, “Witness’” production is the album’s undeniable saving grace. However, production can only do so much to carry an album, and without a foundation of solid songwriting (melodies, lyrics, etc.), it only takes a few listens for listeners to grow bored of a well-produced track.

“Witness” is by no means unlistenable or off-trend, but its songs don’t pack the punch of Perry’s previous hits and the album’s middling nature will ultimately be its downfall.

For those interested in listening, “Witness” is currently available on iTunes for purchase and Spotify for streaming.

“Witness:” 3/5

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“Witness” fails to bring Katy Perry into 2017