Review: Katy Perry's 'Smile' Will Make You Do a Happy Dance

by JC Alvarez

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Thursday August 27, 2020

Review: Katy Perry's 'Smile' Will Make You Do a Happy Dance

Put on a happy face. It's more difficult than we're left to imagine, but Katy Perry has always managed to do just that. Her music has maintained a profoundly positive take since she hit it bit with 2008's "I Kissed a Girl." That pop-anthem introduced us to her significant wit and irony; there was a perpetual joy and "clownish" appeal to Perry, that kept peeking through and was even on full display when "Teenage Dreams" arrived and produced all sorts of fireworks from this California girl!

On her latest album, "Smile" Perry is revealing the other side of that jovial personality. Clowns after all represent two-sides of a coin; one the one hand they are meant to extract the most hilarious reactions from their audience, and at the same time muster the tragedy in a moment in order to control that emotion and turn that frown upside down. This is on full display, from the album's cover art, through to the tracks that Perry has assembled for the album's setlist, which has been in the making for two years now.

Never one to skirt around the issues, Katy Perry tackles all the expected emotional notes of a life lived all too often by pop stars in the spotlight. "Never Really Over" opens up the album and dives deep into the artist's unrequited feelings over a love lost that she just can't shake — that could also serve as the perfect metaphor for Perry and her relationship with the press and critics. The pop mainstay has nothing to prove, but it often feels that she suffers from the same scrutiny that strikes all female artists on the pop-music landscape.

If Perry's pursuit of fun-loving pop hooks and dance beats is what attracts you to her music, this is the album that she's been promising all along. While "Never Really Over" kicks things off, it's the album's second track "Cry About it Later" that sets the tone. The unrelenting drive and pulse is well-played on this upbeat hybrid of 80s rock and pop symmetry, that is immediately followed up with the synth-electro beats of "Teary Eyes." The track has the hefty dance you'd expect from Perry, while perfectly marrying the vocal arrangement as to bring the lyrics up front.

Much of "Smile" happily moves between the slow-tempo ballads and anthemic swells that are Perry's signature...

Much of "Smile" happily moves between the slow-tempo ballads and anthemic swells that are Perry's signature, well represented on "Not the End Of the World" and "Resilient," and then shifts to the mid-tempo upbeat sound that remind us all that it's summer after all. "Champagne Problems" has the hip-hoppy pace that we can associate with "California Gurl," and is pushed even more perfectly on "Tucked." Either of these easily transport us out of our COVID-19 quarantine and put us cruising curbside down Ocean Drive.

Skating us into the album's final act is the truly revolutionary "Only Love." It's classic Katy Perry, but is exactly the song we all need right now. The inspiring lyrics and uncluttered vocal arrangement will certainly make a difference in your day; the track also features a great lesson in its lyrics that should resonate with all of us right now. After all is said and done, without a doubt Katy Perry has succeeded in her mission: her music is celebratory and authentic, and it will definitely put a SMILE on your face.

"Smile" by Katy Perry

available on CD and Digital music platforms


Native New Yorker JC Alvarez is a pop-culture enthusiast and the nightlife chronicler of the club scene and its celebrity denizens from coast-to-coast. He is the on-air host of the nationally syndicated radio show "Out Loud & Live!" and is also on the panel of the local-access talk show "Talking About".