Katy Perry is known for her upbeat pop songs, including “Roar,” “Teenage Dream,” and “I Kissed a Girl.” Who hasn’t jammed out to these tunes in the car or at a bar? But in 2017, Perry’s fifth album Witness didn’t receive the same attention and praise as her 2010 album Teenage Dream or her 2013 album Prism. As a result, Perry went through a dark period in her life. For the record, Witness still reached the Billboard 200 chart, but “the true nature of the album’s intent just got lost in a vain translation from artist to audience,” Billboard wrote in 2017.
“My career was on this trajectory where it was going up, up, up, up, and then I had, like, the smallest shift,” Perry said in an interview with Q on CBC in June 2020 about that pivotal point in time. “It wasn’t that huge, maybe, from an outside perspective, but for me it was seismic. They say if a ship is one degree off from their navigation, they’ll land on a different continent sometimes.”
Fast forward to summer 2020, and the pop star is gearing up to release her sixth album and expecting her first child with her boyfriend, Orlando Bloom, all while showing off her new outlook on life. In July, Perry released her latest single “Smile,” which is an uplifting bop. So, what’s the meaning behind the song and her upcoming album of the same name? We get to the bottom of it below.
Katy Perry admitted she 'lost her smile'
After Katy Perry’s fifth album didn’t live up to expectations, the pop star was not in a good place, both personally and professionally. “I lost my smile,” Perry explained of her new single “Smile,” which was released in July 2020, during an interview with Q on CBC the month before. “I don’t know if my smile was ever fully, authentically mine,” she continued. “But I was riding on the high of a smile for a long time, which was the validation and love and admiration from the outside world. And then that shifted.”
Between the Grammy nominee (temporarily) splitting from boyfriend Orlando Bloom in 2017 and her music not climbing the charts as fast as she wanted, Perry was seriously struggling. However, she persevered and put time and effort into writing her next record. “I wrote the title track from the album when I was coming through one of the darkest periods of my life and had lost my smile,” Perry wrote on Twitter in July 2020. “This whole album is my journey towards the light — with stories of resilience, hope, and love.”
“I hope it can be a few minutes of energizing hopefulness for you as it is for meee,” she concluded.
Katy Perry said 'gratitude is probably the thing that saved [her] life'
After Katy Perry went through a rough patch in her life, the singer seems to have come out on top. Case in point: In March 2020, the “Fireworks” songstress announced she was expecting her first child with her boyfriend, Orlando Bloom, in the music video for “Never Worn White.” Additionally, Perry is releasing her sixth album in August 2020, and her single “Daisies” entered Billboard’s Adult Pop Songs airplay chart in July 2020, making her the fifth artist to have “at least 16 career top 10 hits on the chart,” according to Billboard.
Through the ups and the downs, Perry noted in an interview with Q on CBC in June 2020 that “it was so important for [her] to be broken, so that [she] could find [her] wholeness in a whole different way and be more dimensional than just living [her] life like a thirsty pop star all the time.”
“Gratitude is probably the thing that saved my life, because if I didn’t find that, I would’ve wallowed in my own sadness and probably just jumped,” Perry added. “But I found the ways to be grateful. And every morning, I wake up, it’s the first thing I say — it’s the very first thing I say out loud, before I check my phone… I just wake up and say, ‘Thank you, God, for today. I am grateful in every way.'”
Katy Perry really went 'through a journey'
If anyone knows how to pick themselves back up, it’s Katy Perry. After the pop star released her album Witness and endured a very public breakup in 2017, she hit a low point in her life. “I definitely went through some intense stuff,” Perry said during an appearance on Australian radio show Smallzy’s Surgery (via Good Morning America) in March 2020. “At one point [I] became clinically depressed, and you know, had to figure some things out and go through a journey.”
However, Perry turned lemons into lemonade and poured her heart and soul into her latest album, Smile, which comes out on Aug. 14, 2020. “I think that’s what’s coming musically for me is songs about that journey and getting to that okay place,” she explained. “The world wants some messages, some encouraging messages. Maybe they need that optimism on the airwaves. And that’s something I really enjoy doing and we’re just finding balance.”
Between Perry’s new album and preparing for motherhood, she sure does have her hands full. Despite the challenges, it seems like the California native is simply just smiling through it all.
If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health, please contact the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741, or call the National Alliance on Mental Illness Helpline at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264).
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