Pop with pur­pose

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - Music - Re­views by CH­ESTER CHIN en­ter­tain­ment@thes­tar.com.my

WHAT does one do af­ter a very pub­lic feud with Tay­lor Swift, one of the big­gest names in pop? Well, in the case of Katy Perry (an equally big pop star her­self, none­the­less), you go and make “pur­pose­ful pop” mu­sic.

With the singer’s lat­est al­bum Wit­ness, that man­i­festo trans­lates into songs that strad­dle be­tween grav­ity and fan­tasy. But es­capism is un­char­ac­ter­is­ti­cally muted on her fourth stu­dio ef­fort (fifth if you count the Chris­tian rock epony­mous de­but).

Perry’s trade­mark cot­ton-can­dy­for-clouds pop for­mula – one that gar­nered her five No. 1 sin­gles straight off the 2010 al­bum Teenage Dream alone – is glar­ingly ab­sent on this 15-track col­lec­tion.

In­stead, what lis­ten­ers get is the Santa Bar­bara na­tive putting a leash on her wacky Cal­i­for­nia Gurls self in the stu­dio in favour of a more re­strained elec­tronic style. The question, though, is Grounded Katy Perry all that bad?

There’s no sim­ple an­swer to the above question. Long-time fans might feel robbed of the pizazz that they first fell in love with on I Kissed A Girl and sub­se­quently dis­played on hits like Hot N Cold, Last Fri­day Night (T.G.I.F.), Fire­work and Roar.

Post-Facebook kids whose sonic ex­pe­ri­ences are styled by the likes of Se­lena Gomez and Ari­anna Grande mean­while, might find Perry’s sub­tle EDM-in­formed style here de­riv­a­tive.

Which­ever camp you be­long to, there’s no deny­ing that Wit­ness – as all good no-frills pop al­bum should be – ex­cels at be­ing pretty darn lis­ten­able. Sure, it comes in the wake of lack­lus­tre sin­gles that tanked both in the artis­tic and com­mer­cial sense.

But a lis­ten to the al­bum does make one question the ex­ec­u­tive de­ci­sion that went be­hind the record.

The ex­plo­sive Power – which sam­ples Smokey Robin­son’s Be­ing With You – is a far fiercer self­em­pow­er­ment an­them com­pared to the sense­less Swish Swish. At this point, the lat­ter’s sole pur­pose it seems, is to pro­vide an un­nec­es­sary and spec­tac­u­larly stupid fod­der for the epic KatyTay­lor feud.

Hol­ly­wood gos­sip aside, Wit­ness is as elec­tronic as elec­tropop gets. The hyp­notic Roulette is a smash­ing high­light with its over-the-top pro­duc­tion that strangely works. It’s an Eury­th­mics-like EDM block­buster that has all the right raves in its bang­ing cho­rus.

If any­thing, it’s the smor­gas­bord of catchy bangers (from the girl power an­them Hey Hey Hey to the sexy East­ern melodies of Mind Maze) that boosts the record’s lis­ten­abil­ity.

The ridicu­lous lyrics on pa­rade here will make you think twice about the tracks’ like­abil­ity, though. Then again, when has silly word­play ever taken any­thing away from mod­ern pop mu­sic’s pur­pose?

GOOD ol’ hon­est bangers make up the bulk of the long-de­layed de­but al­bum from ris­ing English singer Dua Lipa.

From the get go, the Lon­doner makes it known that she’s out to get you with mas­sive hooks and bass-heavy songs. The num­bers here are made for mu­sic fes­ti­vals and Top 40 ra­dio sta­tions in this time and age.

But the self-ti­tled de­but’s com­mer­cial ap­peal is a given when the record is pop­u­lated by heav­ily EDM-in­fused num­bers. Slick opener Ge­n­e­sis starts off the al­bum on a breezier tone with tribal-like drums and hand­claps. But the record only gets more vi­va­cious from there, with songs that pack plenty of punch.

Those punches are of course, de­liv­ered by Lipa’s brazen vo­cals. The 21-year-old don’t so much sing, as she does “at­tacks”, her songs with Pink’s Get The Party Start­ed­like zest.

That kind of bold de­liv­ery works best on sass-packed num­bers such as Hot­ter Than Hell, IDGAF and Blow Your Mind (Mwah).

But what’s more im­pres­sive is the fact that there’s a co­he­sive­ness to the record. Given how Lipa has re­leased a slew of sin­gles lead­ing up this al­bum, one would have thought that the 17-track col­lec­tion would be a hap­haz­ard one.

The fact that Lipa (with the help of her band of pro­duc­ers too, of course) could rein in all those ideas is the mark of a pop star to look out for.

Katy Perry Wit­ness Uni­ver­sal

Dua Lipa Dua Lipa Warner

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Malaysia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.