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Katy Perry: The Prismatic World Tour Live (A Music Video Review)

Updated: Apr 3, 2020

Katy Perry: The Prismatic World Tour Live

Katy Perry: The Prismatic World Tour Live


Featuring Katy Perry, Max Hart, Casey Hooper, Nathan Spicer, Adam Marcello, Joshua Moreau, Lauren “Elle” Ball, Cherri Black, Leah Adler, Khasan Bradsford, Lockhart Brownie, Bryan Gaw, Loriel Hennington, Malik LeNost, Scott Myrick, Cassidy Noblett, Tracy Shibata and Britt Stewart.

Directed by Russell Thomas.

Distributed by Eagle Rock Entertainment.  147 minutes.  Not Rated.

Katy Perry really never seems to get her proper due as a music diva.

Maybe it is because of her extremely accessible poppy tendencies.  Maybe it is because of her popularity.  Maybe it is because of her super-extravagant kitschy fashion sense.  Maybe it is because of her willingness to add unnecessary rap breaks to her songs by such big names as Kanye West and Snoop Dogg.  Maybe it is because of her striking girl-next-door looks and va-va-voom body.  Maybe it’s her love of brightly colored wigs.  Maybe it is for her gossip-column-baiting romances with Russell Brand and John Mayer.  Maybe it is for her musical feud with Taylor Swift.

For whatever  reason, Katy Perry never really seems to get taken seriously as a singer and songwriter and entertainer.

However, Katy Perry: The Prismatic World Tour Live is more than just a shining, blinking, over-busy souvenir of her latest tour promoting her most recent album Prism (which was considered something of a popular failure despite housing five top 40 hits, topping charts all over the world and going double platinum in a download-starved music-selling world, which shows you what a high-wire Perry is playing on).  No, this video is also a chance to grab a little respect for the terrific pop songbook that the singer has put together in only seven years and three albums, as well as a demonstration of what a savvy entertainer that she is.

In that purpose, it succeeds admirably.

Perry is smart and sometimes surprisingly hip – after all, this same singer was savvy enough to do a cover of Fountain of Wayne’s spectacularly ironic “Hackensack” on an earlier live album and video – and yet she is not above wallowing in total kitsch.  If you don’t believe me, check out the short animated video of cats getting down to Snoop Dogg’s “Gin and Juice” which is used as a bumper between songs (and an opportunity for Perry to make one of several costume changes).  It’s stupid and unnecessary and at the same time cute as the dickens and much more fun than it has any right to be.

Unlike many iconic pop artists, Katy Perry is willing to rethink, and even deconstruct, her artistry.  This concert isn’t just a pre-programmed Greatest Hits jukebox (though there are a whole truckload of huge hits here), this is an opportunity for Perry – and her audience – to reconsider some of the biggest radio smashes of the past decade.

For example, she transformed her giddy breakthrough hit “I Kissed a Girl” into an arena rock anthem by adding a scorching series of guitar power chords throughout.  The bubbly power-pop hit “Hot ‘N’ Cold” was an even bigger act of artistic subversion, turning the musically slight original into a striking slinky, jazzy ballad.  The wistfulness which was somewhat camouflaged by the studio pop glean of the record “The One Who Got Away,” on the other hand, was notably enhanced by Perry’s tender solo-chick-with-an-acoustic-guitar revamp of the song.

Most of these reinventions worked surprisingly well.  Then again, when she plays the songs straight, and crowd favorites like “California Gurls,” “Wide Awake” and “Dark Horse” are whirling dervishes of energy, friskiness and pop hooks cute enough to pet.

Of course, being a modern pop tour means that a lot is overdone – wildly busy costumes for the front woman and band, dozens of dancers in oddball ancient Mayan space-suits, bright and colorful giant props, and even bringing a fan on stage to sing “Birthday” to her on the girl’s birthday, complete with Perry taking a selfie with the girl in the middle of her stage patter – but in an odd way the busy-ness of the production compliments Perry’s musical image as the Princess of a Fantasyland for young nerdy girls.  (And during the audience reaction shots, it seems quite obvious that the tween and teen girls in the crowd greatly outnumbered the boys.)

There is a closing crowd shot of a group of teen girls shouting “We love you Katy,” and then one breaking away and yelling over and over again “I love you, I love you, I love you!” while one of her friends looked on, slightly shocked and embarrassed by her friend’s trip over the top.  This little throwaway moment weirdly captured both Perry’s charm and part of the reason that Perry is never taken seriously enough.  When someone inspires such unbridled passion, people from the outside tend to look at it a bit suspiciously.

Katy Perry has worked hard to earn that girl’s undiluted devotion.  Moreover, she has created a body of work that deserves respect from fans of pop song craft, Broadway spectacle and simply fans of wild and crazy shows.

Jay S. Jacobs

Copyright ©2015 All rights reserved. Posted: November 5, 2015.

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