katy perry comeback
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What Is Katy Perry’s New Era, Exactly?

The singer is staging a career revival, but we're questioning what she's trying to say.

There’s nothing more exciting than a career comeback. Whether it’s our favourite child actor popping up for a fun reboot (R.I.P to the long-awaited Lizzie McGuire series) or a long-overlooked superstar who’s finally receiving their flowers (like Michelle Yeoh and Sheryl Lee Ralph), we love a reinvention. But not all career revivals are well-executed or culminate in that person emerging as the best version of themselves. Yes, we’re talking about Katy Perry. The pop star, who first bopped her way into our eardrums with “I Kissed a Girl” in the mid 2000s, is in the midst of a career renaissance after fours years away from releasing music.

On June 17, Perry shared the release date of her new single “Woman’s World” alongside an image from the singer’s impending next era. It was very girl pop-coded, featuring Perry in a pair of futuristic pants and a teeny-tiny white tank. Like other cyber girlies of the summer like Charlie xcx and Camilla Cabello, the lewk is giving high-key Zenon: Girl of the 21st Century vibes.  It is a Brat summer, after all. Needless to say, fans were amped.

 

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A few days later, Perry teased snippets of her forthcoming song and the comedown was real. As many people online pointed out, the song — which seems to be about women running the world — is less female empowerment anthem and more alphabet soup, sounding like something created not by a woman but by AI. Fans went from stoked to choked over what they saw as a mediocre tune from the icon who gave us the soul-crushing heartbreak anthem that is “Thinking of You.”

But her lukewarm new music was only the start of a confusing Katy Perry comeback, with the “Teenage Dreams” singer making several other questionable decisions as she gears up for her next era. And it seems safe to say that the pop star — and her revival — are pretty out of touch.

Katy Perry’s hotly anticipated single just didn’t land

The first sign that things might go amiss with Perry’s renaissance came early into the release of sound bites from her latest song. Like, on first listen. As many people online pointed out, the lyrics leave a lot to be desired, with Perry crooning a laundry list of affirmative words like: “Sexy, confident/So intelligent/She is heaven-sent/So soft, so strong.” It’s giving Bridgerton star Nicola Coughlan’s Real Housewives-inspired musical parody.

 

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And it didn’t get any better once she released the full song and accompanying music video on July 12, the latter of which features Perry in what can only be described as a 2016 version of feminism, surrounded by oiled-up women dressed as construction workers. Despite Perry claiming the video was meant to be satire and a commentary on the male gaze,, critics — and fans — weren’t buying into it, calling it a “monumental catastrophe” and “so cringe.”

@katyperryYOU CAN DO ANYTHING! EVEN SATIRE!

♬ original sound – Katy Perry


The thing is, fans have been waiting for new music from Katy Perry for years, so to have her build up this new era only to release a mediocre pop anthem with no soul is disappointing. To be fair, anything Perry dropped was going to be heavily scrutinized by virtue of the fact that she’d taken a four-year break from producing new music. It’s likely at least part of the reason that Rihanna is holding out on releasing any new tracks. The stakes are super high, babe!

What Perry’s song lacks is especially glaring in comparison to all the great music that is being released right now in adjacent genres. While we don’t know what Perry’s entire new album will sound like, “Woman’s World” is giving a very specific sound similar to artists like Charli xcx and Camilla Cabello, who both released new critically acclaimed albums within the last month. Even revealing the lyrics to the song on a 500-foot dress train in Paris couldn’t distract fans enough to make them jump onboard with the song.

 

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Perry is working with an alleged abuser

But the lyrics of “Woman’s World” aren’t the only questionable decision Perry has made. The singer is reportedly working with music producer Dr. Luke on her upcoming album. And Dr. Luke is not the person you would want to be associated with for a supposed “girl power album.”

In 2014, singer Ke$ha accused the producer — whose real name is Lukasz Gottwald — of sexually assaulting her when the pair first started working together in October 2005. Shortly after her accusation became public, Gottwald sued the singer for defamation and breach of contract, leading to the rise of the #FreeKesha movement online, which aimed to get Sony Music to release the singer from a contract that forced her to continue working with Gottwald. In 2023, the pair settled in court after almost a decade-long battle. Gottwald has denied the accusations.

Perry has worked with Gottwald for the majority of her career, but her decision to work with him after her former friend Ke$sha’s allegations feels not just icky, but problematic, especially considering the first single off her forthcoming album is meant to be about empowering women. In response to Perry’s announcement about the release of her song, several fans took to the comments to speak out against Perry’s relationship with Dr. Luke, writing things like: “Special thanks to alleged r@pi$t Dr Luke for your awful new single” and “yea sorry no. working with that man in 2024 is so tacky and distasteful so no.”

She’s making super questionable fashion decisions

And to top it all off, despite some of Perry’s fashion moments in the first few months of 2024 giving fans hope that a cool new style era was on the horizon, some of her recent looks are giving…not much at all. While the cover for Perry’s latest single channelled brat with a capital “B,” her fashion choices on the red carpet have not been doing the same. Visiting the city of Light for Paris Couture Fashion Week, the singer wore a confusing outfit consisting of a Balenciaga fur coat and shredded stockings.

 

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While we’re all for people wearing (or not wearing) whatever the heck they want, something about Perry’s look is just off. Perhaps it’s the vulgarity of the ‘fit’s ripped tights and no-shirt vibe coupled with the brand’s problematic recent history, but it isn’t quite landing. For a refresher, the couture brand came under fire in 2022 for releasing images of children in bondage harnesses as part of an ad campaign.

It’s pretty clear that, at least as of now, Katy Perry is kind of confused when it comes to the aesthetic — and overall message — of her comeback. Girl power while aligning yourself with alleged abusers? Yeah girl, that’s not it.

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