Track Review: Katy Perry, “Smile”

It’s almost here. Katy Perry’s fifth studio album, Smile, will be released on August 14. Katy has been teasing the album for about year now with singles like the sublime “Never Really Over” and “Harleys In Hawaii,” as well as the tender power ballad, “Never Worn White.” Most recently, Katy made a sharp and strong pivot to adult contemporary radio with “Daisies,” her latest radio single from Smile. Now, to coincide with the reveal of the album’s cover art, Katy has officially released the record’s title track.

Anchored by effervescent trumpet and saxophone, “Smile” immediately explodes into a catchy hook. It’s always an interesting choice when artists choose to start their songs with the hook instead of an intro or first verse, but it works here. The song’s only goal is to convey that incomparable feeling of pure joy and happiness, and the bouncy melody does exactly that. The most pleasing parts of the song, however, are the falsetto adlibs sprinkled across the final chorus which make up for the lackluster vocoder-assisted bridge. In the pre-chorus, Katy sings “But every tear has been a lesson/Rejection can be God’s protection,” which perfectly sums up the message of the song. Much like “Never Really Over” and “Daisies,” “Smile” is not simply about being happy, it’s about recognizing the struggle and trauma Katy has gone through to reach this new state of peace and self-love. The title track also brings the “sad clown” aesthetic of the album cover full circle. Like the majority of the songs from Smile so far, the title track reminds us of two things: 1) Katy’s ear for big pop choruses is unmatched and 2) this album is shaping up to be one of her most reflective and personal records yet.

“Smile” doubles as an uplifting anthem while alluding to Katy’s own personal story, it’s another fun and solid track from the pop star.

Score: 63

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