Katy Perry: "I'm just excited to connect with people and to see and hear them. Sometimes people don't feel like they exist or they're important, and I think every individual is very special."
There is something about Katy Perry's eyes that is grippingly mesmerising. A few weeks back, Katy graced our shores down under, and dozens gathered waiting for a secret announcement at Myer in Sydney. After a long DJ set jammed with all of her hits and the B-sides boomed away for waiting fans and the Australian press, Katy Perry finally made her entrance. Walking down the pinkish/purplish carpet that was rolled out and now littered with metallic confetti, Katy took her time - a very long time - to be present with her fans, taking their phones and capturing selfies, and moreover, listening to what they had to say. If a fan ever needed convincing their loyalty and commitment to the pop star needed validating, then Katy delivered affirmation in spades.
While Katy was here to announce an innovative tour with the retailing giant Myer where 8,000 people will win tickets to her sparkly arena shows around the country mid next year - an announcement that has proven newsworthy for the innovative sass and prowess of Myer to re-define what being a retailer is in 2017 - this writer was left with another interesting and intriguing take out. Katy Perry's presence and her focus.
While Australian TV presenter Scott Tweedie interviewed Katy about her impressive pop career listing YouTube counts, chart positions and prestigious awards, Katy wanted none of it, and was keen to change gear, saying people weren't interested in that. Instead, she was confident that her fans would be far more interested in her eating meat pies and Tim-Tams. But aside from the upbeat banter that we have grown to know and love from Katy Perry, the global pop-star had a message about her new album Witness - and she was more determined than an Australian major party politician to stay on message, and deliver it.
"You know you can hear the progression [on Witness], and maybe a little bit of maturity. I'm in my thirties now, I'm... very happily 32 and I left my twenties, and you know I'm just trying to... make some purpose with everything I do.... make better choices, and be more present, a lot more present, I'm looking very present..." To which Scott Tweedie replied, "You're looking at me dead in the eyes and it's amazing."
Katy responded without moving a muscle, "I'm looking in your pupil, I'm like right in your pupil." Scott couldn't handle it anymore.
"I just lost a stare off with Katy Perry. Did you outstare me just then?" But the question was ignored and she continued on.
"I'm just excited to connect with people and to... see and hear them. I feel like sometimes people don't feel like.... they exist or they're important, and I think every individual is very special."
Witness has been hailed somewhat of a disappointing offering by music critics, due to its style, content and stunt marketing. Yet it is clear that Katy's metamorphisis from Bubblegum Queen of the Bangers - Teenage Dream had an astounding five number ones and was toured solidly for two years - to a more muted sound filled with unfinished yet earnest thoughts about politics and social issues, that she is exploring new territory*. But not everybody wants a star to be so unsure of herself. Vox music writer Kelsey McKinney writes, "We want our pop stars to be confident, distinctive, and powerful, not someone soul-searching on an arena tour. In 2017, Katy Perry no longer seems like a bubblegum-pop queen. She seems lost." But can it be so easily assumed that Katy Perry - free and empowered to make her own choices about her sound and her songs by executives at her label - is lost? Indeed, Witness sees Katy wandering and wondering and not always coming up with straight answers to everything. But gosh darn, if she will be stopped from looking.
The Katy Perry of the past may have delivered the construct of the confident pop star we want, but this new album and aspect of Katy Perry is perhaps just Katy holding up a mirror and searching for answers to the questions many young people are asking. She doesn't always get it right but why are some people so desperate for her to stop exploring? Moreover, it cannot be omitted that Katy's songs have always been filled with questions. ("Do you ever feel already buried deep, six feet under scream... but no one seems to hear a thing?")
All it takes is a wee glance over the words from her song Roar (from her album Prism) to see she was always going to end up here.
While all eyes have been on Katy Perry since she burst onto the scene in a teenage chapstick dream bubble years ago, her eyes are clearly on others and have been for a while now. Katy Perry has always asked questions in her lyrics. And indeed, let's hope she continues to. For it is this invitation to join her conversation that is what makes Katy Perry, Katy Perry. Lost? Nope. She seems more focused than ever.
* Apart from her single Bon Appetit. Kinda gross.
Myer Presents KATY PERRY’S WITNESS: the Tour Australian Dates
Tuesday 24th July at Perth Arena
Monday 30th July at Adelaide Entertainment Centre
Thursday 2nd and Friday 3rd August at Rod Laver Arena, Melbourne
Wednesday 8th August at Brisbane Entertainment Centre
Monday 13th and Tuesday 14th August at Qudos Bank Arena, Sydney
For more ticketing information go to www.katyperry.com
How to WIN tickets to the Myer presents KATY PERRY’S WITNESS: the Tour competition
Customers must spend $120 or more in one transaction instore or at www.myer.com.au between now and 29th July 2017. Customers must be a MYER one member.
MYER one members need to register for the competition on the MYER one app or via www.myer.com.au