HER ‘SMILE’ FOUND
Katy Perry releases album of hope amid wedding planning, impending motherhood
NEW YORK — A decade ago, Katy Perry could sing the alphabet and top the music charts. Her name was synonymous with being No. 1 on the Billboard chart, as the pop star logged hit after hit with anthems like “Teenage Dream,” “Firework,” “Roar” and more.
But as the saying goes, when you’re on top, the only way to go is down.
That was part of Perry’s experience roughly three years ago when she released “Witness,” which had some success but didn’t dominate the charts like she’s used to doing. Though first single “Chained to the Rhythm” became a Top 5 hit, the other singles fizzled, and the star’s popularity dwindled as newcomers, mainly budding rap stars, took over the music scene.
“I wasn’t getting as high on my own supply as I used to anymore,” Perry said. “It’s like I had been to the top of the mountain. I’d seen the view. I had gotten too used to it. So, of course, the universe decided to come and say, ‘All right sweetie, let’s figure this one out.’
“I definitely had to go on a real emotional, psychological and spiritual journey during those years to find my smile, ’cause I lost it.”
“Smile,” her fifth major-label album, will be released Friday and at a time when the 35-year-old — who is engaged to actor Orlando Bloom and close to giving birth to a girl — is thinking about life differently.
Q. What will fans hear on “Smile”?
A. It’s a record full of hopefulness and resilience and a little bit of joy and some fun . ... I think that it’s always a good time to have a little hope injected, especially these days. This record is really talking about my own experience in walking through hell and finding the light and coming out of that. So if anyone else is having that same journey and can be inspired by the positivity and the hope inside of it, then I’m happy for it.
Q. On the title track you sing: “Had a piece of humble pie/That ego check saved my life.” What made you write that lyric?
A. I am not invincible. I am not perfect. I have fallen flat on my face so many different times and learned from that growth and have been living in the public, in the spotlight for over 12 years, and have had moments that were really intense. For me, I don’t necessarily like to avoid or ignore, I just like to come to terms. I’m like, “Look, I needed that. That was a humbling experience.” Obviously when you’re in it, you hate it. But I do believe that you have the choice when you can zoom out just a little bit from the situation and say, “OK, what am I getting from this? Where is the lesson? Where is the growth?” Not just like, “F-it all to hell, Joyce Ann, just burn! Everything should just burn!” But where is the gratitude for this obstacle?
Q. It’s the 10-year anniversary of “Teenage Dream,” which matched the record Michael Jackson’s “Bad” set for most No. 1 singles from an album. How does it feel when you think about that album and period of your life?
A. “Teenage Dream,” it really encapsulated this fantastical view of love. It was nostalgic in some ways. It was a special moment and I can’t believe 10 years has passed. I’m kind of happy that “Smile” is coming out around the same time. It’s like, “All right, let’s dip into that energy.”
Q. Mariah Carey mentioned that being pregnant made her voice stronger. Has being pregnant done anything to your voice?
A. It’s interesting having 45 extra pounds just kind of like sitting on you; 30 of that is just right here on my lung capacity. It’s not been too challenging, but I’ve definitely had to change a couple of keys. But I think that’s just because of the physical intensity of it. I’ve been so active. I’ve been doing the most. I go to the opening of every Zoom link. I am a mom on the move. I am promoting. Do not say that I did not work hard!
Q. How is wedding planning going during the pandemic?
A. We have ideas but anyone that makes plans in 2020 is just a little LOL. There’s bigger things going on in the world. I don’t want to say, “Oh, how sad is it that I had to postpone or cancel or whatever.” It’s so many other horrible things going on. What we’re hoping for is just a safe, healthy baby. That’s the next thing on the calendar that we can look forward to.
Katy Perry, whose new album “Smile” will be released Friday, performs before the start of the Women’s T20 World Cup cricket final match between Australia and India in Melbourne in March.