The singer had once ruled the pop universe with songs like Teenage Dream and California Gurls dominating the charts. But recently Perry has been characterized only by a slew of scandals and heavy critique aimed at both her music and personal life. Her new single “Never Really Over” comes at a critical point of her career and could ironically decide once and for all whether this pop superstar is really over or not.
Katy Perry has undoubtedly been one of the most successful artists of this decade with Teenage Dream (2010) being certified three times platinum and Prism (2013) being certified two times platinum. Her second album, Teenage Dream, became the second album in history to enjoy 5 hits from the same album. The only other album to achieve this is Michael Jackson’s 1987 album Bad.
The early years of this decade can easily be labeled as the peak of her career as she enjoyed international fame and widespread critical acclaim. Fast forward a couple of years and Katy Perry becomes a declining celebrity desperately trying to hold onto fame with her last album Witness (2017) and an increasing reliance on publicity stunts.
Witness saw Katy Perry trying to re-brand herself with what she called “purposeful pop”. The idea was to shift with the changing music landscape and transform her musical voice from the bubblegum pop of her earlier years to something more politically aware and appealing.
This move could have been applauded but the release of songs such as Bon Appetit and Swish Swish, along with claims that Perry was homophobic and racist, reduced the move to being viewed as nothing but a marketing tactic. This combined with the overall low quality of the album contributed to Perry’s increasingly negative public image in the wake of scandals such as her tricking a 19-year-old virgin into kissing her on American Idol.
Katy Perry’s recent release comes as a pleasant surprise. Never Really Over no longer follows Perry’s idea of “woke music” but is instead an electro-pop jam focusing on the aftermath of a breakup while preaching a message of self-love. Her current emphasis, she said, “is just trying to stay honest — trying to be raw and vulnerable and always remembering that that is actually a strength. It was super-easy to do when nobody thought that they knew me, (as opposed to) when you’ve just been around for so long that they think they know every single page in the book”.
The summery visuals of the music video may be reminiscent of her earlier release Prism (2013) but we are introduced to a more mature and blissful side of the artist. This return to her earlier aesthetic and a move away from her usual publicity heavy releases could help create a more positive public image and garner popular support. USA Today has already labeled the song as her “best song in years” and twitter is trending with widespread praise for the song as Perry lands high on iTunes in various countries.
Whether this will be a return to her former glory or if Perry will continue her decline remains to be seen but what we do know is that Never Really Over is not just going to be a part of our summer playlists but is receiving praise from both fans and critics alike and might just become song of the summer.