Katy Perry’s ‘Smile’ album has been preceded by four singles – ‘Never Really Over’, ‘Harleys in Hawaii’, ‘Daisies’ and now, ‘Smile’. None of the tracks have achieved the global commercial success that Perry’s singles once did, though that likely has more to do with the current stage of Perry’s career, than it does with the quality of the songs themselves.
Indeed, ‘Never Really Over’ stands out as one of Perry’s best singles to date – being both introspective and vulnerable, while also being infectiously catchy. Second single ‘Harleys in Hawaii’ lacks the depth of the previous single, but it is still a breezy, light-hearted, enjoyable listen. Third single ‘Daisies’ is more anodyne than the two singles that came before it, but it still manages to effectively convey a message of resilience and authenticity.
In comparison to these three tracks – all of which have demonstrated Perry’s significant artistic growth over the years – ‘Smile’ is a bit of a disappointment. In trying to be both catchy and deep, ‘Smile’ fails to achieve much of either. The song lacks the memorability and sonic appeal of Perry’s greatest hits, and neither the lyrical content, nor the vocals, portray any particular emotional depth; with Perry leaning too heavily on cliches in the lyrics and singing with less emotion than she did on ‘Never Really Over’ and ‘Daisies’.
With that said, ‘Smile’ isn’t a bad track, nor is it Perry’s worst. With repeat listens, the song does become more enjoyable, and while Perry is capable of better lyrical content, there are still plenty of other pop songs whose lyrical content is far, far more basic than ‘Smile’s’. That being said, Perry has shown us she is capable of making better music than this. With four songs now released from her upcoming album (release date: August 14th 2020), we are starting to get a pretty clear idea of what Perry’s new album is likely to sound like. What the title track confirms to us is that while ‘Smile’ (the album) is likely to contain some of Perry’s best music to date, it is also likely to be an uneven record; with song quality varying significantly from track to track. I just hope that the rest of this album sounds a little less like it’s title track and a bit more like it’s early singles.