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Katy Perry’s new album gives listeners many reasons to ‘Smile’

| Monday, September 21, 2020

Liya Blitzer | The Observer

The last couple months have been pretty busy for Katy Perry. Soon after the release of her fifth album “Smile” on Aug. 14, she gave birth to her daughter Daisy Dove Bloom on Aug. 26. “Smile” seems to detail many recent uplifts in Perry’s life, as well as obstacles she has overcome that make the small victories all the more sweeter. 

This album seems especially important after the negative reactions to Perry’s last work, Witness, which disheartened her as a singer and artist. Though many critics labeled “Smile” as tame and unremarkable, I disagree.

As with most of her music and albums, Perry balances superficiality and seriousness really well on “Smile.” Almost half of the 12 songs on this newest album tell stories about more surface-level things or hold thoughts that still feel relatable and significant through their musical forms. Synthetic pop melodies supported by percussion rhythms establish each song’s message, which is one of the areas in which Perry is really strong. The imagery across the album paints vivid pictures of Perry’s imagination and real life.

“Cry About It Later,” “Not the End of the World,” “Champagne Problems” and “Harleys in Hawaii” are the more superficial songs mentioned above, and they set a great tone for the sound of the album. “Not the End of the World” and “Champagne Problems” feed the thread of resilience that come to a peak on “Resilient.” 

“Teary Eyes” and “Smile” hover between lighthearted and serious. “Teary Eyes” provides a supportive anthem for getting through the struggle of heartbreak, and “Smile” hints at what can happen once that struggle is conquered. As the title track of the album, “Smile” reinforces Perry’s skill at taking both positives and negatives into her songwriting and producing great art out of it. 

The deeper songs on the album like “Never Really Over,” “Daisies,” “Resilient” and “Tucked” communicate important life themes for everyone in really catchy tunes. It’s easy to imagine that “Daisies” has some connection to Perry and Orlando Bloom’s daughter.

The last two songs on the album really hit hard. “Only Love” challenges listeners to put their lives in perspective, with Perry prioritizing family and positivity in her life as if it were to end soon. It’s the type of song that comes with life experience and hardship, and it can encourage one to power through the tougher parts of life when things seem so difficult. “What Makes a Woman” empowers anyone listening who identifies as a woman. Perry outlines what her personal experience is like and doesn’t hold anything back.

She doesn’t seem to hold anything back on this album either. Yet again she puts her polished style on clever lyrics to express her reality in a genuine and honest way. The vulnerability on this album comes through loud and clear, and at the same time the sound is compelling, strong and catchy.

This album represents a powerful comeback in Perry’s life. She lets the songs speak for her, and I personally am so happy for her and love this album more knowing what it took to make it. The mindset she expresses could help anyone take a step back from school stresses and count their blessings. It can also encourage you to find beauty in the little things in life, as Perry does in her music.

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