Album Review: Smile
For months, we have all waited for the release of Katy Perry’s sixth studio album, Smile. After listening to it, I can definitely say it was completely worth the wait.
A common theme throughout the tracks of the song is staying happy through the hardships of life. Katy Perry explained that she was inspired to create this album after a period of depression, suicidal thoughts, and public criticism. She went on to say that gratitude is what made her fight through the struggles. It’s a message that we can all hear right about now, considering all the chaos that has been happening in the world this year. Many people have especially struggled with mental health between social and physical distancing, politics, and current events this year.
The first track, “Never Really Over”, tells the story of remaining hopeful that a lost love will come back (“Just because it’s over, doesn’t mean it’s really over”), with a catchy, electropop beat playing under it. Perry had gone through a period of relationship struggles with her now-fiance Orlando Bloom, and this song was born as a result. The track was released as a single at the end of May of this year.
“Daisies”, the fourth track on Smile, was also released as a single earlier this year. This uplifting anthem gives people the inspiration to never give up, even when they are knocked down. With lyrics like “They told me I was out there/ Tried to knock me down/ Took those sticks and stones/ Showed ‘em I could build a house” or “Told them your dreams and they all started laughing”, the song gives an important message of not letting the haters get in the way. Later on, Katy gave birth to a baby girl which she named Daisy Dove Bloom. Was this track a subtle hint all along?
“Resilient” includes lyrics about how Katy needs to deal with the rain if she wants to get a rainbow, and how “the darker the night, the brighter the stars glow”. She compares herself to a flower that is going to grow in between the cracks in the concrete. She uses seasonal analogies to sing about how she is not going to let hardships impact her personal growth.
In the track “Cry About It Later”, Perry sings how she is going to have fun tonight, and “cry about it later”. The song features a catchy pop beat to it, so it doesn’t sound like a bummer, cry-in-my-coffee song.
If I had to choose a personal favorite track on the album, it would be neck-and -neck between “Not The End of the World”, or “Smile”. “Not The End of the World” features hip hop-like elements, and lyrics telling listeners “It's no funeral we're attending/ Actually, just the beginning/ Throw on your fancy attire, fears in the fire/ Don’t lose hope”. The pre-chorus also includes lyrics from the 1969 Steam song “Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye”, sometimes played at sports stadiums following the loss of a visiting team or the ejection of a player.
“Smile” uses elements of a subgenre of dance music known as “nu-disco”, commonly used in 70’s and 80’s, with a comeback made in some early 2000’s pop music. The song includes a synthesizer and drum beat under lyrics including “Yeah, I’m thankful/ scratch that, baby, I’m grateful/ Gotta say it's really been a while / But now I got back that smile". The track provides listeners with an energetic beat that makes even the grumpiest people want to get up and dance.
I have to say, I have been surprised at the number of critics giving this album such negative reviews, saying that it is depressing, stale, or a “flop”. Well, you know what I say to those people? Why are you such a grump?
If you’re yearning to get up and dance, and listen to a message of how things will get better in these trying times, I encourage to turn on Smile, and do just that!
If you or anyone you know is struggling with mental health, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. They are free, confidential, and available 24/7 to listen. You are not alone, and somebody is always here to listen.