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Katy Perry Reveals the Personal Growth Behind Her New Album “Smile”

Okay everyone, enough clowning around!

It’s time for the release of Katy Perry’s "Smile". The album is set to be released this Friday August 28th, across all streaming platforms and in stores.  

Earlier this month, I had the opportunity to be in a conference call with Katy Perry. With the current COVID-19 pandemic, Perry is in an uncommon situation leading up to her album release. She is heavily pregnant and ready to bring both a daughter and an album into the world around the same time. During our Zoom call, Perry shared with me all about the process of creating "Smile" and what she hopes to achieve with this album. 

In "Smile", a 12-track album, Katy returns to her pure-pop roots with songs like Never Really Over and Only Love. Perry said this album will be sonically similar to her preceding works, "PRISM" and "Teenage Dream". Despite its pop-y soundscape, Perry explained that, during the creation of "Smile", she was going through an intense rough patch, dealing with clinical depression.

“I wrote this record during one of the darkest times in my life,” Perry said. Perry, like many other artists, turned to music to help her cope with her mental health issues. “There’s a lot of hopefulness, resilience, and joy as themes in this record.” Perry hopes the album brings some “levity” into people’s lives, despite all of the craziness currently happening in the world.


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Image credit: Christine Hahn


 “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, but sometimes you have to walk through hell to get that strength. This record speaks about my own experience of going through that and coming out alive.”


When discussing the most vulnerable and honest lyrics she wrote for the album, she referred to the title track, Smile

Every day, Groundhog Day

Goin' through motions felt so fake

Not myself, not my best

Felt like I failed the test

These lyrics showcase the way Perry is able to convert her feelings of inadequacy into song. She said she hopes that other people can relate to these more “mature” themes and that her fans who “have grown up with her” connect with the honesty in these songs. Perry also added that August 24 was the ten-year anniversary of the release of "Teenage Dream". Ten years ago, she wore bright wigs, and wore outfits made of candy. Katy discussed how she has matured over the course of her career, and how her fans have matured alongside her. 

"Some of you remember me with the black hair, the blue hair and the candy and all that stuff, and that's amazing," Katy said. "But some of you were 10 or 12 years old when you listened to California Gurls. Now you’re adults and dealing with a lot of different things, having your own jobs and lives."

Though the songs have more ‘mature’ themes, the imagery included in the album is anything but mature and mainstream. Katy’s style has always been known as eccentric, and this album is no different. From dancing on stage with shark mascots to wearing a burger costume to the 2019 Met Gala After-Party, she does not shy away from expressing herself. The album artwork for "Smile" is largely based around clownery and circus themes.

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Image credit: Christine Hahn


“I’ve always felt a little bit like the court jester. I’ve always used a little bit of humor and self-deprecation; I wasn’t taking myself seriously when I was spewing whipped cream out of my boobs!”


In addition to having fun with imagery, Perry said that one of the things she enjoys most about her new album theme is seeing the art that her fans create.

“My fans seem to be really creative with graphic design,” Katy said. “They’re doing incredible commercials, TikToks and makeup looks.” 

One fan, (@FAMEKILLED on Twitter & Instagram), created an alternative cover art for the album that Katy is now selling on her online shop. 

Though the current state of the world has not allowed Perry to do a ‘normal’ press tour and album release, she is still hopeful for the future and sharing the album in a bigger way. “It’s amazing to see the fans lean into this theme,” Perry said. “I hope to bring it to life next year in an in-person, 3-D way.”


Be sure to check out Katy Perry’s new album "Smile" on all platforms this Friday, August 28th!


I would like to extend a huge thanks to Universal Music Group and 1824 for giving me this opportunity!

Amanda Thompson is a native of Portland, Maine who is currently a Senior studying Communications at The University of Tampa. When she's not binge-watching New Girl, you can find her dancing around to Jhené Aiko, Lana Del Rey or Kehlani. If you want to keep up with Amanda, follow her on Instagram @amaandathompson
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