Prism is Katy Perry's fourth studio album that was released on October 18, 2013 by Capitol Records.
- Roar 3:43
- Legendary Lovers 3:44
- Birthday 3:35
- Walking On Air 3:42
- Unconditionally 3:48
- Dark Horse (featuring Juicy J) 3:35
- This Is How We Do 3:24
- International Smile 3:47
- Ghost 3:23
- Love Me 3:52
- This Moment 3:46
- Double Rainbow 3:51
- By The Grace Of God 4:27
- Spiritual 4:35
- It Takes Two 3:54
- Choose Your Battles 4:27
After concluding her California Dreams Tour, Katy Perry stated that she intended to "live a little" before recording any new material that was "worth listening to."
When her ex-husband Russell Brand left her on December 30, 2011, Perry felt devastated and contemplated suicide.
She revealed to Vogue in June 2012 that she planned to record a "darker" album than her previous records, stating: "It was inevitable, after what I went through. If I had a time machine and could go back in time, I would. But I can't, so, you'll discover another part of me."
To Interview, she mentioned that she aspired to include a more acoustic vibe to the record.
Perry also said that her music would be getting "real fucking dark", though also stated that her fans would be able to relate to it.
She said: "I imagine that maybe my next record would be a little bit more of an artistic venture. Not that I'm going to self-sabotage either and be like, 'I'm going to make a crazy record that nobody really understands.'"
That fall, Perry later told Billboard about her plans for the album, saying she already envisioned several aspects of it. Perry told the magazine that she already had songs and ideas, and knew the type of record she would make next.
She also said that although she had not started recording yet, she already knew how the artwork, coloring and tone of the album would turn out.
Perry further detailed: "I have to let the music take shape first. I even know what type of tour I'm doing next. I'll be very pleased if the vision I have in my head becomes a reality. But I have to honor the music."
The development of "Prism" started when Perry was embarking on the California Dreams Tour. She began with a process she deemed "slow cooking", which consisted of recording random "fragments of ideas" into her mobile phone's dictaphone application.
A member of Direct Management Group, Ngoc Hoang, then transcribed the audio files, which he inserted into what Perry described as a "treasure chest"; such object was consulted by her later on during the album's recording sessions.
While Perry started recording the album officially in November 2012, accompanied by Greg Wells and Greg Kurstin, she noted that she was still in a "dark place", and that she had not "let the light in".
The sessions began again in March 2013, following a trip to Madagascar which Perry credited as having "put [her] priorities in perspective", thus leading her to "do more work on [her]self".
Perry also viewed a video made by Eckhart Tolle, which discusses loss, commenting: "When you lose something, all your foundations crumble—but that also leaves a big hole that's open for something great to come through."
After feeling prepared to record again, she reunited with her team from Teenage Dream—Dr. Luke, Bonnie McKee, and Cirkut—in Perry's hometown of Santa Barbara, California, where they spent a month recording at Playback Recording Studio among others.
After those sessions, Perry went to Stockholm, Sweden where she worked with Scandinavian record producer Max Martin, to do what Perry called "put[ting] the ice on the cake". She also recruited other collaborators, such as Norwegian team Stargate, Bloodshy, Benny Blanco, Jonatha Brooke and Sia Furler.
By April 2013, recording for the album was halfway complete and Perry revealed to ASCAP how was working with such collaborators. She affirmed that Wells allowed her to "vomit words"; with Martin, she picked the melodies of the songs; Luke mostly helmed the production and she worked with "topline and melody".
Perry described writing sessions with McKee as "emotional abuse", adding that they argue over the "best lyric", as if they were fighting in a boxing ring.
McKee (who wrote four songs for the album) spoke with MTV on the effort, describing it as "a little bit more grown up" and "interesting."
The album opens with "Roar", a midtempo synth-driven power pop track. Musically, it contains elements of arena rock and glam rock, while lyrically, it is an empowerment anthem. Comparisons were established between "Roar" and "Brave" by Sara Bareilles.
"Legendary Lovers", a bhangra-based song, deals with the concepts of karma and infinity.
"Birthday" was described by Perry as her own attempt at "writing something Mariah Carey would have put on her first record". Musically, it is a "fluffy" pop song that is primarily styled in the genre of disco.
"Walking on Air", the album's second promotional single, is an early 1990s-inspired deep house-Eurodance-disco song, inspired heavily by CeCe Peniston and Crystal Waters. It was produced by Klas Åhlund and Max Martin.
"Unconditionally" is Perry's personal favorite song on the album and the second official single. It is a "soaring" power ballad with an "epic chorus".
Jason Lipshutz from Billboard noted that the song includes a "woodblock percussion" as well as "a dramatic bass line" and deemed it the album's "most mature offering". Furthermore, he called it "an ode to love that looks past all flaws" and stated that the song acts as a "compellingly grounded predicate" to the title track from Teenage Dream.
Perry herself described the song as a song about unconditional love that could come in all forms, including those from relationships, from parent-to-child, and from sibling-to-sibling.
"Dark Horse" is a song with ample influences of trap grime, hip hop and "Southern rap-techno mashup" genres.
"This Is How We Do", produced by Max Martin and Klas Ahlund, was described as being the possible "song of summer" for 2014.
Shirley Halperin from The Hollywood Reporter described "This Is How We Do" as "a sunny 80s throwback", while Edna Gundersen from USA Today described it as a "buoyant pop blast with hip-hop underpinnings" and praised the song's recurring refrain ("It's no big deal!").
James Montgomery from MTV News called the song a "cocksure, club-ready banger".
With "Double Rainbow" (produced by Greg Kustin and co-writer Sia Furler), Perry was allowed to "dump pent-up emotions" and "get things off her chest." The song was described as a "massive ballad".
Lipshutz deemed it as a "breathy love track" with a "powerful chorus that explodes upon impact" with lyrics that include "One man's trash is another man's treasure / so if it's up to me, I'm gonna keep you forever".
He added that "Kurstin brings the pop sensibility he's flashed with artists like Kelly Clarkson and P!nk, while Sia's presence connects this sleek, shimmering pop track to [her David Guetta collaboration] 'Titanium'".
Elijah Sarkesian felt that "Some of Katy's finest vocals of the album are on this song".
Perry described "Love Me" as a song "about loving yourself the way you want to be loved." Gundersen called it "irresistibly catchy and energetic." The song was produced by Bloodshy.
Sarkesian called it "an interesting mix – the lyrics are dark, but the music is very dance-centric. At the very least, it'll do well in clubs".
Montgomery stated that "Love Me" and "International Smile" both "seem destined for the dance floors".
The latter was inspired by Perry's friend Mia Moretti, and was compared to the songs on Perry's previous album.
Lipshutz called it a "straightforward pop-rock offering" and described its guitar hook as "kicky", adding that the song also includes a "Melting Daft Punk-esque vocoder breakdown".
Halperin stated that in the song, Perry sings the "hooky" line: "Please fasten your seat belts and make sure your champagne glasses are empty".
Halperin described "This Moment" and "Ghost" as "mid-tempo ballads that are closest in DNA to Perry's previous smashes"
Perry stated that she was inspired to write "This Moment" after she heard the audio book of "The Power of Now." The song's lyrics talk about "living in the present"; with Perry "add[ing] a romantic spin" to it.
Gary Trust described "Ghost" as a "mesmerizing ballad" while Gundersen described it as "powerful, dark, and haunting".
Lipshutz felt that "Ghost" and "By the Grace of God" contain the album's "most somber moments".
While talking about each track on the album, Perry mentioned that "By the Grace of God" was the first song she wrote and recorded for the album back in November 2012 while she was in her "dark" phase.
Jody Rosen from Vulture described bonus track "Spiritual" as an inspirational song.
Kevin Fallon of The Daily Beast described "It Takes Two" as a "sweeping ballad" which allowed Perry to "show off a full-throated belt that so many of her more bubbly tracks mask".
In "Choose Your Battles", Perry "pounds her chest and spews venom at the man she cannot understand."
"Prism" debuted at #1 on the Billboard 200, selling 286,000 copies during its first week. It acquired the largest first-week sum by a female artist for 2013 (surpassing Miley Cyrus' album, "Bangerz" with 270,000 copies); it would later be surpassed by Beyonce with her self-titled fifth album.
The album has been certified double Platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), and has sold 1.7 million copies in the United States as of February 2017.
"Prism" received generally favorable reviews from music critics.
Jon Dolan from Rolling Stone gave the album three out of five stars, writing that: "Perry and her longtime collaborators Dr. Luke and Max Martin often go for a darker, moodier intimacy à la high-end Swedish divas Robyn and Lykke Li. Perry has always done a great job of letting us know she's in on the joke of pop stardom. Sadly, she doesn't always bring that same sense of humor and self-awareness to the joke of pop-star introspection. The album's raft of ripe-lotus ballads is larded with Alanis-ian poesy she can't pull off".
Nick Catucci from Entertainment Weekly gave the album a B+ and stated that "Katy's superpower, now more than ever, is minting songs so relatable that their insights quickly scale up to inspirational..... Now she grasps that she's making the mainstream, not just swimming in it".
Helen Brown from The Daily Telegraph gave the album five out of five stars, stating Perry "sounds like a woman, and an artist, who's finally found herself" and praised the "vulnerability" of the album.
Stephen Thomas Erlewine from AllMusic, Alexis Petridis from The Guardian, and Sal Cinquemani from Slant Magazine all also gave the album three out of five stars.
Erlewine dubbed the album "a tighter, cleaner record than its predecessors" while Petridis called it "Katy Perry's most spiritual album to date".
Mesfin Fekadu from ABC News deemed the tracks "likable", but felt the album lacked "some of the fiery fierceness and excitement that dominated Teenage Dream".
James Reed from The Boston Globe felt Perry "always seemed like the pop star who knows precisely what she does best" and called the album "an unabashedly fun listen".
Chris Bosman from Consequence of Sound gave the album three and a half out of five stars, calling Perry "a champion of choruses".
Greg Kot from Chicago Tribune gave the album 2 out of 4 stars, commenting "Though not exactly spiritual, Prism does come off as a more serious—if no less formulaic—album than its predecessor".
Marah Eakin from The A.V. Club gave the album a C+, commenting "A lot of Prism is simply forgettable", though praised the tracks "Roar", "Birthday", and "This Is How We Do".
Rob Harvilla from Spin gave the album a 5/10 rating, and felt some of the material was not "all that desirable."
Elysa Gardner from USA Today gave the album a 3/4 rating and found the album to be "genuine and endearing".
Trent Wolbe from The Verge gave an overall 4/4 rating and praised Perry's ability to "wrapping hyper-specific emotions into a new format that everyone can relate to". He particularly praised the tracks "International Smile" and "Birthday", declaring the chorus of "Birthday" to be "fucking perfect".
Jody Rosen from Vulture was disappointed with every track on the album except for "Roar".
Randall Roberts of Los Angeles Times gave the album a 3/4 rating, calling it "a shimmering, dynamic, heavy-duty modern pop album."