With the singles from Katy Perry's fifth album Witness, it's been a case of two out of three are bad.

To be honest, Katy Perry's had a charmed ride since I Kissed a Girl, even getting some frankly average singles (Birthday, Rise and This Is How We Do) high in the chart on the back of her name, not their musical quality.

But every major career has peaks and troughs.

Right now Perry certainly needs Witness to get everything back on track - her last two singles have both missed the Top 30.


However Witness opts for cool collaborations over sure-fit hit makers. Read our track by track review.


This is the track you heard on that bizarre, cringe-worthy video. On paper it should work - hit king Max Martin, Roar's co-writer Savan Kotecha and Ali Payami (The Weeknd's Starboy). But it's strangely non-eventful for an album opener. The electronic backing seems to be building to a crescendo in the pre-chorus that never really kicks in, just some 90s house piano and oddly restrained vocals. The first song, and title track, should be a banger, not a polite tapper.

Key lyric: "If sh - hit the fan, grenades got thrown would you still show?"

Hey Hey Hey

Co-writer alert: Sia does some more celebrity whispering here to steer the lyrics along with Sarah Hudson, a singer in her own right who helped Katy out with Dark Horse. Perry had a similar relationship with another singer Bonnie McKee, on tracks like Teenage Dream and TGIF. Sadly Hey Hey Hey doesn't sit up with any of those tracks mentioned. The lyrics reheat the theme that a woman can be smart and beautiful, Perry sings it like Gwen Stefani but Max Martin was having an off day - you forget this song as soon as it ends. Also after noting "Got my own ka-ching in my chubby little wallet" Katy drops an F bomb, clearly forgetting her large pre-teen fanbase and the parents who'll have to block their ears.

Key lyric: "A big beautiful brain with a pretty face, a baby doll with a briefcase, a hot little hurricane. I'm feminine and soft but I'm still a boss, Marilyn Monroe in a monster truck ..."


More of those 90s deep bass beats heard on Swish Swish. It's co-written by Ferras, who's signed to Perry's vanity label. The big, swooping, dark retro synths are closer to Depeche Mode and it's the album's first exciting chorus. That could be because Shellback is back for this track (his only appearance on Witness) - he's the man Max Martin worked with on Taylor Swift's 1989. Lyrically it's a metaphor about playing roulette being a metaphor for risk and partying. This could be a single at a push.

Key lyric: "There's you texting me a little bubble of trouble. I drop a pin to my location let's roll the dice."

Swish Swish

Unlike Bon Appetit, this No. 37 smash does improve the more you hear it. But if you really wanted to get revenge on Katy Perry, how about making your diss track an undeniable pop classic. Nicki Minaj is worth whatever she got paid though. And ten points for trying something different by using dance act Duke Dumont.

Key lyric: "Your game is tired, you should retire, you're 'bout as cute as an old coupon expired."

Deja Vu

Look! Sydney dance act Hayden James is the key co-writer and producer here. With its sweeping house feel it suits Perry's voice perfectly, although she may struggle with those chorus notes live. The other co-writer, Thomas Stell, is also Australian, from Golden Features, as well as Perry's mate Ferras again. This is probably too subtle to be a hit single, but it's a very strong album track on an album that probably needed more obvious hit singles.

Key lyric: "Your words are like Chinese water torture and there's no finish line always one more corner."


Another interesting collaborator - Triple J darling Jack Garratt. The UK musician samples a bit of Smokey Robinson's Being With You then basically gives Perry something he'd release himself. That's good. Beyonce got James Blake, Perry gets Jack Garratt. That's a good get on the pop food chain. It's all cut up beats and will confuse mainstream ears (again, that's good) and Perry really cuts loose vocally on the chorus. This is another strong album track. Parental warning - another casual F bomb in there.

Key lyric: "I'm a goddess and you know it, some respect you better show it, I'm done with you siphoning my power ... don't bite the hand that feeds or you'll never eat."

Mind Maze

OK another interesting collaborator - Canadian electronic act Purity Ring produced and co-wrote this - one of three tracks they worked on here. Is Perry trying to break free from Max Martin's straight up pop? You don't go to Purity Ring if you want radio hits - they're signed to 4AD. There's lots of deliberate vocoder ala Cher's Believe but this is no Believe. If Triple J played Beyonce's collaborations with James Blake and Jack White this is the closest to a Triple J friendly Katy Perry track.

Key lyric: "What used to stimulate me can now barely wake me."

Miss You More

More Purity Ring. This one starts less bleakly than Mind Maze, then the Debbie Downer chorus kicks in - "I miss you more than I loved you." Who would have thought the first emotional ballad would come from a witch house duo from Canada? As Katy Perry ballads go, well, it's better than last year's Rise and at least it's a creative risk. Is this about John Mayer? Or Orlando Bloom?

Key lyric: "We were a match but not a fit, we were a dream, unrealistic. We didn't lose, we didn't win."

Chained To The Rhythm

Now it's official - this is the best song on Witness. And the most 'woke' song on Witness, even if it's hardly Dear Mr President. Sounds even better here with what's around it.

Key lyric: "Stumbling around like a wasted zombie, yeah, we think we're free."


Perry uses Miley's producer Mike Will Made It for this dreamy R&B bedroom ballad. Haven't had enough of her thinly-veiled sexual metaphors? "Anchor in me, get lost at sea, the world's your oyster and i am the pearl. open waters, sink into me slowly, come and take a swim with me, make me ripple til I'm wavy, don't be scared to dive in deep and start a tsunami." Musically there's not much going on here. It should sound like Sade. It doesn't.

Key lyric "You're waking up an ocean of emotion my body can't hide."

Bon Appetit

The worst single released by an A-list pop star this year. Now we know her record label didn't really have much to pick from. Witness the sh - ness.

Key lyric: let's not bother reliving them, hey?

Bigger Than Me

Another Purity Ring collaboration. They have three songs here, Max Martin has four. There's something wrong with those stats surely for one of the world's biggest pop stars? Is this Katy's attempt to break free from the Swedish pop factory? The lyrics are vague but at least suggest something deeper. "I'll speak my truth, though my voice shakes. It won't be easy to break all the patterns, if I'm not evolving I'm just another robot taking up oxygen." This is a song that Katy Kats will hold to their hearts but casual fans will skip past. Purity Ring may be about to pay off their mortgages though.

Key lyric: "can't go with the flow, got to make waves, even though I look at the sand I'm just one grain but my intuition says there's a bigger mission I must embrace so I'm pushing my thoughts to a new place."

Save As Draft

In case you don't get the title, there's typing at the start. This is another painful break up ballad - insert famous ex it might be about here - written with DJ Mustard (Rihanna, Nelly). It's one of the most raw moments here. It's about that letter you write to an ex, but never send. "I write it, erase it, but what good would it do to open the wound."

Also contains two F bombs, kids.

Key lyric: "Sometimes I swear I pass your SUV on Sunset Boulevard, I don't f--- with change but lately I've been flippin' coins a lot."


The album's still going - that great production comes from Jeff Bhasker, the man who made Harry Styles cool. He's also worked with Lana Del Rey and Kanye West and gives Perry a very cool 70s funk groove here. Not a hit, but a treat for getting this far through the album for sure and some nice soulful gospel backing vocals and handclaps to give the album some depth at the back end.

Key lyric: "Life's a pendulum, it all comes back around."

Into Me You See

What? Katy works with indie dance heroes Hot Chip here. You get the idea she's deliberately broken away from the hitmakers she's been teamed with for the last few albums. Possibly not a good time for that commercially, but at least she's not going through the motions. You'd expect Hot Chip to give her a dancefloor filler, rather it's a haunting piano ballad - with another sea metaphor - and the album's sixth language warning. It's another song about credibility not chart.

Key lyric: "Is this intimacy? No one's ever seen me like this. Seen right through the bullshit. I pray that I can keep unfolding. Pray that I can just stay open ... you broke me wide open, open sesame."

So, Witness is a surprisingly and refreshingly risky Katy Perry album. With left-of-centre collaborators rather than trusted hitmakers, she's tried to make her own Lemonade, but it's closer to flat home-brand cola.

Make no mistake, there's some really good album tracks here, there's just no great, obvious hit singles.

Which could be the biggest risk of all. Maybe Max Martin is saving all his best work for the next Taylor Swift album?

Oh and parents with young Katy fans, make sure you grab the clean version.