Hours after Katy Perry released her “Roar” music video to the world at large, the pop superstar unveiled the majority of her hotly anticipated third studio album, “Prism,” to a select group of industry insiders during a listening party at Solo in downtown Manhattan on Thursday night (Sept. 5). All guests were forced to check their phones at the door so as to avoid leaked musical snippets, but many attendees furiously scribbled notes while Perry sat onstage and introduced 11 new songs that are to appear on “Prism,” due out Oct. 22. Song inspirations were explained, collaborations were revealed, and afterward, the biggest KatyCats in attendance got to set down their drinks (which all contained glowing ‘prism’ cubes along with crushed ice) and take a photo with Perry — who, of course, is also celebrating her eighth No. 1 single on the Hot 100 chart this week, as “Roar” ascends to the summit.
Check out all the details you need to know about “Prism,” as well as a list of confirmed song titles, below:
1. “Prism” Will Include 13 Songs On Its Standard Edition. There will be 16 on the deluxe version of the album, after 2010’s “Teenage Dream” contained 12 regular tracks before its “Complete Confection” reissue added seven more. Perry played 12 new songs in total on Thursday night (including “Roar”), and noted that the songs that were played were not necessarily going to remain in that order on the final track list.
2. Katy’s Favorite Song On The Album Is Called “Unconditionally.” With woodblock percussion and a dramatic bass line, “Unconditionally” doubles as the singer’s favorite new track as well as the most mature offering on “Prism.” An ode to love that looks past all flaws, the song acts as a compellingly grounded predicate to “Teenage Dream’s” starry-eyed title track. “There is no fear now… I will love you unconditionally,” Perry belts over the uncluttered arrangement.
3. “Dark Horse” Features A Juicy J Cameo. Although the song title “Dark Horse” has already been revealed to fans, nothing can prepare KatyCats for “Prism’s” snapping trap anthem, which features the only vocal guest star on the 12 new songs, Three 6 Mafia member Juicy J. Before the Oscar-winning MC spits his usual rapid-fire flow, Perry guides the grimy, incredibly simplistic production with questions like “Are you ready for a perfect storm?” Perry told Billboard following the listening session that “Dark Horse” was produced by Dr. Luke (who executive produced Juicy J’s new “Stay Trippy” album) and Max Martin.
4. “Prism” Is Greatly Informed By Swedish Pop. Perry told her audience of listeners that the new album was recorded partially in Santa Barbara, Calif. and partially in Stockholm, Sweden; a number of songs of the new LP evoke the music of Robyn, who served as an opener on Perry’s California Dreams tour. “I’m such a huge Robyn fan,” Perry gushed while introducing “Walking On Air,” a vibrant, throbbing house song she made with Swedish producer-songwriter (and frequent Robyn collaborator) Klas Ahlund. Another Stockholm-born song, “This Is How We Do,” is a wobbling dance track with a spoken-word bridge that carries “song of next summer” potential.
5. Lyrically, “Legendary Lovers” Contains The Most Interesting Chorus. The woozy love song sounds unlike anything Perry has ever recorded, and focuses on the ideas of infinity and karma. “Take me down to the river/Underneath the blood-orange sun/Say my name like a scripture/Keep my heart beating like a drum,” goes the epic hook.
6. “Double Rainbow” Was Co-Written With Greg Kurstin and Sia. Kurstin brings the pop sensibility he’s flashed with artists like Kelly Clarkson, P!nk and Tegan & Sara, while Sia’s presence connects this sleek, shimmering pop track to “Titanium,” another song with a powerful chorus that explodes upon impact. “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure… so if it’s up to me, I’m gonna keep you forever,” Perry sings on the breathy love track.
7. “Birthday” Has (The Most) Smash Potential. Although there were a handful of songs played on Thursday night that could very well be ruling radio similarly to “Roar,” “Birthday” is a stone-cold stunner, with busy but buoyant production, a deeply rhythmic impulse and joyful lyrical concept. “I wanted to do something that Mariah Carey would have put on her first record,” Perry said while introducing the song, which serves as pop music’s (superior) answer to Swizz Beatz’s “Everyday Birthday” single with promises of “Make it like your birthday everyday.”
8. “Love Me’s” Lyrics Mean A Lot To Katy. Produced in Stockholm by Bloodshy, whom Perry has wanted to work with ever since he helmed Britney Spears’ “Toxic,” “Love Me” is a self-empowerment mantra informed by Perry’s dissolved marriage. “I lost myself in fear of losing you,” Perry sings at the top of the song, before later concluding, “I know I have to love myself, the way I want you to love me.” With a churning guitar buzz at its core, the racing electro-pop track allows “no second-guessing or concealing feelings” from the pop superstar.
9. “International Smile” Was Inspired By Mia Moretti. The jet-setting DJ (who released a remix to Perry’s “Teenage Dream” track “Peacock”) is a close friend of Perry’s, and the singer even called her a “muse” when it came to this straightforward pop-rock offering. With a kicky guitar hook and a melting, Daft Punk-esque vocoder breakdown, “International Smile” is a likable song that sounds the closest to Perry’s “Teenage Dream” oeuvre.
10. “Ghost” And “By The Grace Of God” Offer The Most Somber Moments. Both songs directly point to Perry’s failed romance with Russell Brand, and both tracks slow down Perry’s party tempo to achieve emotional resonance. On “Ghost,” she sings over synth stabs, “We were best friends… now, you’re just a ghost,” while the piano ballad “By The Grace Of God” makes it clear that Perry struggled to continue her hectic life and career in the wake of damaged romance. “By the grace of God/I picked myself back up/I put one foot in the front the other,” Perry croons on the track, which will end the regular edition of “Prism.”
Here are the 12 songs from Katy Perry’s “Prism” previewed on Thursday night:
Walking On Air
This Is How We Do
By The Grace Of God