Since Katy Perry dropped her newest album Witness just over a week ago (I’m late – get used to it), critics have all but decided that the album is one big fat dud.
Witness currently has a 51% metascore on Metacritic, with only three out of seventeen tracked reviews green; in layman’s terms, Witness bombed with the critics. Intrigued as to why everybody was dragging it so fervently, I read them – and my responses to these reviews surprised me:
No, you’re wrong.
You’re wrong too.
What? The comment doesn’t even make sense!
Maybe I’m listening to the wrong Witness album. We ARE talking about Witness, the new album by Katy Perry right?
I know people are entitled to their opinions but… the reviews are just as messy as “Bon Appétit”’s rollout.
Personally, I don’t hear what the critics are saying. Not because I am listening with deafened stan ears; I have actually always felt indifferently towards Katy. To me, Katy‘s like that friend you don’t really know too well, but you hear what they have to say regardless because you’ve always kind of liked them.
With the unnecessarily frosty reception to Witness, I found myself feeling oddly defensive about Katy Perry’s fourth album, and Kathryn Hudson’s fifth. I genuinely think it’s her best work to date. Witness retains everything we love about Katy Perry, while pouring a few new ingredients into the mix. Sadly, those new ingredients left an extremely abhorrent taste in the mouths of many critics.
I felt that Witness has been misunderstood by those critics chosen to review the record, and I felt obliged to directly respond to some quite baffling comments I saw in their reviews:
Prism, released in 2013, had a handful of truly great songs, from the immaculately produced disco-pop of “Birthday” to the rap plaything “This is How We Do.” – SPIN.
“Legendary Lovers” and “Walking on Air” are obviously the best songs from Prism, and that’s that on that – out of every Katy Perry bop, the equally annoying “Birthday” and “This is How We Do” are nowhere near the top of the list.
They obviously only appreciate Katy for her cookie cutter radio trash, which is perhaps why Witness is lost on them; Witness has nothing as ostentatiously Top 10 friendly save for, say, “Chained to the Rhythm”.
Witness isn’t bad, but it’s also not Harry Styles‘ self-titled debut, the current holy grail of critically acclaimed pop-star transformations. – Cosmo.
Everything about this comment made me feel increasingly dirty. Definitely one of the most ridiculous observations about Witness that I read.
The Harry Styles solo album is drenched in Eau de Desperation, featuring top notes of I’m a Real Artist, middle notes of Take Me Seriously and base notes of I Make ‘Real’ Music Now. Witness is simply incompatible when it comes to a comparison – Katy is not trying to be Harry Styles. The fact that we are living in a time where a Harry Styles record is held up as ‘the one’ to aspire to leaves me thunderstruck.
Witness is more of what Katy does best; a combination of fun, playful bops with introspective ballads. It’s not too serious, but it’s serious enough that there’s substance.
Witness’ best track (and one of three she co-wrote with Purity Ring’s Megan James and Corin Roddick) [is] “Miss You More” – Pitchfork.
Yikes. Out of Witness’ seventeen tracks, the Pitchfork review elected the dreary “Miss You More” as the best that the album has to offer? I mean, it’s not like “Miss You More” is an absolutely dreadful song, but the best out of the whole album? Not when “Tsunami” and “Power” exist (“I’m a goddess and you know IT!”).
Yet all of this PR ephemera and decorative gossip frosting belie a very simple question: what is Perry trying to say with Witness? – PopMatters.
I thought it was fairly obvious what Katy was trying to say on Witness, but apparently that is not the case. So here is Witness, ha synopsis:
Katy Perry is a living woman with feelings and thoughts on her life experiences, which are either good or bad ones. So, Katy Perry wrote songs about being a living woman with feelings and thoughts on her life experiences, which are either good or bad ones.
If you were to actually pay attention to the lyrics of the album, instead of ‘decorative gossip’, you would have picked up on that.
Perry‘s purpose is lost in this messy, incoherent record. – NZ Herald.
Witness is actually mixed very nicely, so I wouldn’t label it as ‘messy’.
With regards to Witness’ apparent incoherency, I respectfully disagree – it’s extremely obvious what Katy’s message is with this record. Finding light in times of pitch black darkness, continuing to realize things about yourself and battling demons are just some of those messages.
Perhaps metaphors such as “got me spread like a buffet, bon appétit baby”, “don’t be scared to dive in deep and start a tsunami” or “Marilyn Monroe in a monster truck” were just too witty and cunning for this person.
The result is that Witness goes on too long and doesn’t feel as cohesive as it might’ve. Witness has great singles, forgettable singles, forgettable filler, and songs that go clunk. – CoS.
I’m not quite sure why Witness doesn’t feel cohesive to this critic, as it has an enjoyable 80s synth-pop vibe throughout. It’s just as cohesive as Katy’s other records.
Also – forgettable singles? “Chained to the Charts” was a success. For better or worse, everybody was talking about “Bop Appétit”, meanwhile “Smash Smash” is rising faster than teen pregnancy in the 70s. You tried it, CoS.
Hip-hop as Perry’s lane is really unbelievable. – Vulture.
Maybe it’s unbelievable because Katy isn’t cruising down the hip-hop lane, save from a feature by Migos (which I had forgotten about, because I only use the solo version). Witness is largely an 80s-themed, futurepop album, so where’s this ‘critique’ coming from?
Forty tracks were recorded and boiled down to 15 but there isn’t an original idea between them… “Swish Swish” is a hip hop put down apparently aimed at rival Taylor Swift but too generic to land any blows. – The Telegraph.
It’s safe to discredit this person’s opinion due to the fact that they mistook “Swish Swish” (a UK house styled bop) as a hip-hop track. A truly asinine remark which proves they did not listen to the record very closely!
Her dance-pop here is identical to everyone else’s. – The Independent.
Katy worked with producers none of the other pop girls have even acknowledged before, plus most of the music on the radio is Chainsmokers-styled stuff, which is a style Witness hasn’t incorporated.
Witness was supposed to provide pop music a new interpretation for what its future may have in store. – Billboard.
Apparently, Katy Perry was supposed to reinvent the very essence of music with Witness, but I guess I missed that memo.
If you’ve come to a Katy Perry album expecting genre-twisting revolution, then you’ve RSVP’d to the wrong party, beloved!
Witness, whose singles keep stalling out like Trump’s travel ban, diagnoses only Perry’s desperation for a hit… “Bigger Than Me” borrows the sleek sensuality of Selena Gomez’s recent records without adding any original flavor. – LA Times.
I can only imagine that the ‘desperation for a hit’ attack is targeted at the Turkish dance-pop styled “Bon Appétit,” which is no more ‘desperate’ to be a hit than “I Kissed a Girl,” “California Gurls” or “Roar”. So why are we only now chastising Katy Perry, the prototype for singles-based artists, for retaining elements of that formula, which has kept her at the top of the industry for almost a decade and helped her rival Michael fucking Jackson’s chart records?!
Not them boldly comparing Katy to Whisperlena – I simply can’t!
Needless to say, nobody likes Witness. – Sputnik Music.
I like Witness. Am I nobody?
Katy’s fans like Witness. Are they nobody?
Katy likes Witness. Is she nobody?
Please think before you generalize.
The only few critical responses to Witness which seem to ‘get it’ are The Atlantic (“The main requirement of a Katy Perry album is to deliver a good time, and Witness does it” – tea!), as well as Observer and Gay Star News. I hope that Katy has heard their kind words over the megaphone of hatred blaring in her face right now, and that Witness’ warranted debut position of number one on the Billboard 200 chart consoles her.
Unfortunately, Witness seems to be playing out in the same way that other great pop albums (such as Artpop, Bionic, 4, Superficial and American Life) did. Although very hated now, in a few years audiences will be retracting their proclamations of hatred, and hail Witness as an experimental, underappreciated gem.
It’s a shame, because this album obviously means a lot to Katy, and the critical lashings may end up pushing her back inside the generic shell she was trying to crawl out from with Witness.