Did Katy Perry take Hillary Clinton’s presidential loss to heart? Is her disastrous comeback from the lukewarm reception of her last album Prism a representation of what’s wrong with the world? Watching her different antics pre-Witness release and just right after her 72-hour live stream to promote the said album, I can’t help but feel worried for the pop star who is either a.) melting down in public or b.) melting down in public as a stunt to promote her new album. Either option is a bit disturbing.
Not that there is anything wrong with pulling off publicity stunts to sell your album. All artists do it in different forms. Remember, even shying away from publicity also makes buzz. Look up: Beyoncé’s silent and casual drops of 2013 and 2016. And that’s how you’re chained to the rhythm.
It reminds me of how I watched Rob Kardashian fall victim to obesity and different family issues gradually season after season of Keeping Up with the Kardashians before re-emerging into a troubled relationship with Blac Chyna. The man needs a therapist, some serious help, not another reality show.
I’ll digress and write all of this under good old publicity and attention-grabbing. Maybe there is also a dash of sincerity in it. Katy admits in an hour-long therapy session during her live stream how she harbored suicidal thoughts. She also admitted how being Katy Perry is quite difficult as it feels different from her true self, Katherine Hudson. Perhaps Katy is trying to reach out and introduce the “real her” to the world. Still, with everything that has happened, this can’t pass off as just entertainment. Watching someone’s downward spiral and perhaps their unraveling after an ill-received album (Witness hasn’t done well among critics, with The Washington Post describing it as “solipsistic, flow-sustaining, unwavy, missionless, momentum-deficient, same-old-place kind of pop album” while Cosmopolitan says outright it’s a flop, among many other underwhelming reviews.) shouldn’t be okay to use as material to get back into the spotlight. And if indeed Katy is troubled, all the more we need to re-focus on what we demand from the artists we pay to see.
If anything, it should be a wake-up call. With the pressure to be perfect, the demand for provocative artists, and the cutting power of social media, we can’t keep building Katys into the world for our pleasure. The Nationalasks in its review of Witness if it’s our fault the album is a “hot mess.” In the article, Si Hawkins points out if Harry Styles can’t get a solo flying after a wildly-successful run with a boy band, then the expectation from Katy must be unimaginably more. “How much harder must it be for cupcakes-and-cream Katy Perry, the mega-queen of mega-pop who’s set chart records only equaled by Michael Jackson, to find another path without being afraid of risking all she’s accomplished?”
For those watching Katy, regardless of her true intentions, we need to learn more than to be amused. If this is a bid for Katy to have a file in the “Celebrities, They’re Just Like Us!” category, then we need to reassess what we want from our artist. To ask that they be human enough to connect with but also to be not-so-relatable that we can still find entertainment in whatever they do, is a balancing act that’s bound to tip over on one side.