Reporting Courtney E. Smith
Katy Perry has finally revealed some details about her highly anticipated third album; namely, that it will be called Prism and you can get your hands on it Oct. 22. But Perry has been talking about the album since she graced the cover of Vanity Fair in 2011. Among the tidbits about her religious upbringing and her then still-going marriage to Russell Brand, Perry started preparing the audience to see a new side of her.
“My career is like an artichoke,” Perry told Vanity Fair. “People might think that the leaves are tasty and buttered up and delicious, and they don’t even know that there’s something magical hidden at the base of it. There’s a whole other side [of me] that people didn’t know existed.”
She ended the article (not currently archived online) by saying that fans can expect her to get much darker for her next album — which she’d already started plotting over two years ago. This “darker Katy Perry” narrative has been repeated by the singer to Rolling Stone, Vogue and Interview (to whom she said in 2012, ”Yeah, well, my music is about to get real f***ing dark, so…”).
It’s also going to be our first listen to songs written by Perry after her divorce. Even though she has been plotting to show us her dark side for some time now, she may have gotten license to go even darker with that seismic shift in her personal life.
But what does the dark side of the woman whose rise in fame correlates to a bra that sprays whipped cream? Here are a few of the roads she might go down, and none of them are candy-coated.
Go Full Alanis
This would be the most obvious choice for Perry. She’s a longtime and documented fan of Alanis Morissette’s debut album (and hallmark of ’90s female dark anger gone mainstream) Jagged Little Pill, going so far as to track down Morissette’s producer, Glen Ballard, to work on music early on her career. Anyone who saw Part Of Me, Perry’s 3-D film, saw that early footage of Perry as a scraggly haired, acoustic-strumming waif.
The word prism is a term “used figuratively with reference to the clarification or distortion afforded by a particular viewpoint,” per its dictionary definition. If Perry were to go the full Alanis route — waling instead of merely singing about intensely personal things — she would be giving us both a clearer and more distorted view of her life. The old truism that only two people can ever know what happened in a relationship may be accurate, but her finally penning some songs about it (“Wide Awake” doesn’t count — anyone worth their salt knows she wrote it circa her Travie McCoy break-up) will certainly provide insight into her true emotional state. It’s unlikely she can top the harsh honesty of “You Outta Know,” but she could at least attempt an anthem to stand alongside it, “You’re So Vain” and countless Taylor Swift hits in the collection of break-up revenge songs.
Go Full Goth
Perry dabbled in goth with her Joan of Arc look designed by Dolce & Gabbana at the 2013 Met Ball (disregard the fact that the event was supposed to be punk themed). She incorporated elements of the trademark goth dark hair/pale face aesthetic in her videos for “E.T.” and “Wide Awake.” She’s always put a certain spin on her fashion nods to goth that make them lighter, more neon or too clean to really be full goth. But it is easy to imagine her going toe-to-toe in costuming with Siouxsie Sioux or Exene Cervenka of X. Let her smear some lipstick around and Katy Perry could probably out-Robert-Smith Robert Smith. And if Teenage Dream was, arguably, her glam-rock period then, Prism would flow nicely into her musical goth period, mirroring the flow of the icons of glam’s influencing the style of goth.
Go Full Here, My Dear
There are many ways to “get real f****** dark” and Marvin Gaye took the cake of emotional darkness with his 1978 album, Here, My Dear. His ex, Anna Gordy, would get a percentage of royalties from it, as ordered by the court, for alimony and child support payments. Gaye went in with the intention of churning out a pile of crap. What he made instead was a chronicle of their divorce and a collection of deeply personal songs that is a tour de force in raw emotional power. It’s the true exploration of an artist’s psyche that lays bear his feelings on his ex, spirituality, and falling in love.
The fodder of Perry’s personal life certainly gives her a clear path to follow suite.
Go Full Smiths
“Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now” knows no fury like a woman scorned — or something like that. Perry was introduced to the dark magic that is Stephen Patrick Morrissey (a solo artist in his own right but also the singer for British pop group The Smiths) by her ex-husband Russell Brand. She fell hard and she fell fast — the duo even wanted him to play at their wedding. Wouldn’t it be great to see her steal Brand’s mix tape and make her own Smiths-esque album of woe? One of the songs should probably be called “Morrissey Pajamas.”
Wearing morrissey pajamas on Qantas... @rustyrockets bringing some home for you.. Of course.—
Katy Perry (@katyperry) August 14, 2010
Go Full Nebraska
Perry has teased the press with details, saying her new album is “schizophrenic” in terms of the topics it covers. Imagine if she drops a Bruce Springsteen inspired Nebraska-style album full of outsiders, killers and actual schizophrenics. It’s unlikely at best that we’ll hear Katy Perry singing a murder ballad (let alone one produced by pop hit maker Dr. Luke), or put out an album of mainly acoustic ballads, but if she did it might turn out to be one of the greatest, most daring albums of her career. Though we’d settle with her singing “Meet me tonight in Atlantic City” for like a sequel to “Waking Up In Vegas” or something.