Katy Perry’s last blockbuster effort, Teenage Dream, was so sugary that its physical release was even scented to smell like cotton candy. But having married and divorced thesaurus-swallowing comedian Russell Brand in the three years since, follow-up Prism often contains a much more bittersweet taste. Admittedly, with a who’s who of Swedish hitmakers on production duties, the record doesn’t always live up to Perry’s “real fucking dark” claims. But amongst the stream of bubblegum melodies, perfectly-executed key changes and skyscraping choruses, there are several moments where the 28-year-old acknowledges that life isn’t all about rainbow wigs and whipped cream bras. Here’s a look at five of the best examples.
The album’s most sonically daring moment by a country mile, “Dark Horse” sees Perry embrace the murky world of trap-hop on a warning to all men about the damage she will inflict if heartbroken. Juicy J appears to have witnessed her psychotic tendencies first hand judging by a guest rap which describes her love as an addictive drug and compares her ‘woman scorned’ routine to the serial killing behavior of Jeffrey Dahmer: [LISTEN]
Having once defended her husband’s attack on Los Angeles photographers as an act of chivalry, Perry now claims that he’s anything but a gentleman as she explicitly recalls the moment when he ended their marriage by text. Determined not to let such a ruthless act destroy her faith in love, this vengeful synth-pop ballad sees her delete the serial womaniser not only from her phone book, but from her entire memory: [LISTEN]
A surprisingly stark antidote to the survival instincts of opener “Roar,” this piano-led closer reflects on the fall-out from her whirlwind relationship with Brand and in particular the suicidal thoughts that left her sobbing uncontrollably on the bathroom floor. Crediting her sisters with bringing her back from the brink, “By the Grace of God” thankfully ends on a much more optimistic note. But it’s the rare glimpse of emotional vulnerability that stands out: [LISTEN]
Admitting that she may have publicly thrown her ex under the bus in order to save her own skin, a repentant Perry now tries to atone for her sins with an apologetic synth-pop ballad full of remorse and regret. However, her sudden acceptance of at least a portion of the blame for their troubles feels slightly hollow for the fact that while her Brand-bashing has taken prime position on Prism, “It Takes Two” has been tucked away as a deluxe version bonus track: [LISTEN]
Kicking off with a clumsy metaphor involving Kathryn Bigelow’s Oscar-winning Iraq War tale, it’s not clear exactly which former partner this ‘love is war’ epic is based on. But it’s certainly someone who appears to have knocked the fighting spirit out of Perry as she wearily admits defeat to a ‘hurt locker lover’ whose constant mind games, habit of blowing up at any given opportunity and ammunition-throwing suggests he treats their relationship more like a battlefield: [LISTEN]