No pop star manages to reach the top and stay there indefinitely. This much is true for Katy Perry. Many will say she peaked with her second album Teenage Dream (2010), which produced a string of chart-topping hits, sold millions of copies, had a huge world tour and was adored by critics. The album even scored five US number ones, a feat only Michael Jackson had achieved. Her next album, Prism (2013), produced two huge hits in ‘Roar’ and ‘Dark Horse’ ft. Juicy J and sold fairly well. Even though it didn’t have the same impact as Teenage Dream, it was still a resounding success and any pop star would dream to have an album that successful. But what about her newest album Witness? The word ‘flop’ has been used since the album and its singles don’t appear to be doing that well compared to the singer’s previous releases. Let’s have a look and see whether her latest material really is flopping or not.
Before Witness was released, Perry released three singles. The first, ‘Chained to the Rhythm’ ft. Skip Marley, was a moderate hit. It was promoted by Perry as ‘purposeful pop’ and was her response to Donald Trump becoming president (Perry was a keen supporter of Hillary Clinton). Though it was a moderate hit, it wasn’t as big a seller as Perry’s previous lead singles (‘I Kissed a Girl’, ‘California Gurls’ ft. Snoop Dogg and ‘Roar’). Second single ‘Bon Appetit’ ft. Migos got mixed reviews from the critics and failed to make much of an impact. It peaked at number 59 in the US and 37 in the UK. As for third single ‘Swish Swish’ ft. Nicki Minaj, it didn’t fare much better, reaching number 43 in the US and 40 in the UK. Both of these singles underperformed with lower-than-expected chart positions across the board. What’s also worrying for Perry and her team is that these singles were released before the album.
Sure, Witness debuted at number one in the US, but in its second week of sales, it dropped down to number 13. Her previous album Prism, on the other hand, managed a total four weeks in the top 10. In the first week Witness was on sale, it logged 180,000 sales – 162,000 of these were actual sales, the rest is made up of sales and streams of individual tracks. Compare this to the opening week sales for Prism, which logged 286,000 sales, just over 100,000 more than Witness. In the UK, Witness peaked at number 6 and only spent two weeks in the top 20; Prism debuted at number one and spent its first nine weeks in the top 20. So it’s clear to see that so far, Witness has had less of an impact on the charts than Perry’s last album. The album could well climb back up the charts – not all of them drop like stones – but it remains to be seen whether this will happen.
The term ‘flop’ is used a lot these days, but a much better term to use a lot of the time is ‘underperform’. Katy Perry is by no means flopping with Witness and its singles, as they’re still making a good enough impact on the charts. She is, it’s safe to say, underperforming with Witness as the album, along with its singles, isn’t generating as many sales as Perry’s previous releases. It’s still early days, but while Witness hasn’t exactly flopped, it’s looking like it may struggle to sell as well as Perry’s previous albums.