Reed Gaudens, writing for Fansided, explains how “Witness” “transcends its missed mainstream connection” as “a misunderstood masterpiece primed for delayed impact.”
For her first post-election expression, Perry branched out of her Max Martin comfort zone for a handful of tracks, and the evolution toward less formulaic radio-ready songwriting is apparent. Still, even with the differing musical sensibilities spread around the record, Witness listens like a cohesive concept album instead of a collection of potential singles. By that metric, Teenage Dream, the career-defining history maker the public holds as her gold standard, is the Quinn to its Daria.
If you metabolize the words and themes of Witness, you realize what she actually meant by “purposeful.” For what feels like the first time, she poured her heart out across an entire album and into songs of personal liberation and exploration. She had her heart broken, she grew up a bit, and she matured her artistic viewpoint just a tick north of the darker second half of 2013’s Prism.
During the extensive hours of Witness World Wide, she listened and learned. She asked questions. She shined her light on others. It brought the whole idea of the album full circle: Taking a breath to be in the moment and opening your eyes to the things we lose sight of in the shuffle of hectic humanhood. It had nothing to do with her haircut or how disjointed she felt volleying between Katy Perry and Katheryn Hudson. If you were really paying attention, you could see that it wasn’t entirely about her at all.
Sometimes the strongest bodies of work from the biggest voices and most reliable chart toppers falter with public approval. Back in 1992, Madonna experienced backlash for the unapologetically sexual Erotica, and Christina Aguilera’s Bionic remains every bit of “ahead of its time” as its artist claims it to be. There’s unlimited examples of musicians refusing to bend to fit the trends and venturing into underrated territory. Katy Perry’s Witness joins an elite group of pop albums whose power will only be appreciated in time.