Katy Perry chatted with MTV Australia about how “Smile is her welcoming back the fun, the comedy and the playfulness that made the world fall in love with her in the first place, with intervention from her ‘higher self’,” how she looks back on “Teenage Dream” fondly, how her evolution through music over the years is “just mostly out of my own love of experimentation and lust for life, just being so heavily influenced by pop culture and art and people and decades,” the new song “Cry About It Later” and more. She also said that her favorite Madonna album is “Confessions on a Dance Floor”.
Speaking of 2010, that was an important year for Katy and her fans as it saw the release of her seminal, near-perfect album, Teenage Dream. It’s a technicolour wonderland, taking you on a candy-coated journey through sweet escapism with just the right amount of sour depths.
With the 10-year anniversary of the album fast approaching, Perry still likes looking back at her first baby.
“I love it because there’s a part of me that’s very Walt Disney-esque. It’s very just fantasy and idyllic. It was about creating an escape and that was totally it,” she says.
“That was just me creating my Willy Wonka moment, and it was fun. And there’s depth on that record. With everything I do, sometimes I put out the sugar and then if you want some more depth, you just have to go a little bit deeper because it’s always there for you to dive into. But I’m just glad it holds up and people are happy to celebrate. It’s nothing I’m ashamed of, it’s something I’m super proud of and I’m just happy it’s my baby.”
Since 2010, though, we’ve seen many iterations of Katy Perry. There’s the literal bubblegum princess of Teenage Dream, and the fierce empress of its re-release with “Part Of Me” and “Wide Awake”. There’s the wide-eyed survivor of Prism, and the third-eyed iconoclast of Witness. And now we have the melancholy clown of Smile.
But Perry says that the need to change things up comes entirely from within herself.
“It’s just mostly out of my own love of experimentation and lust for life, just being so heavily influenced by pop culture and art and people and decades,” she says.
Pop culture reference points for Smile? She says, with bright eyes, that there’s sprinkles of Goldfrapp and Britney Spears found within the album, but that she also took major influence from the concept of the original jester. Dressed in full makeup and a silly outfit, the jester is the one that’s called on by the monarch to dance and play at will regardless of what the jester is feeling – not totally unlike what it means to be a modern female pop star.
But, the awareness that she will struggle again also makes up a large part of what the album is about. She brings up another album track, “Cry About It Later”, which unpacks that very concept.
Katy quotes the song’s lyrics – “I’ll cry about it later, tonight I’m having fun / Champagne on ice only makes you stronger” – signifying a very huge reprieve she must be yearning for right now.
“I can do the smiles, I can do the daisies, I can do the fireworks. But sometimes you just need a fucking drink,” she says, grinning.
“Therapy is great, now take me to the bar.”