Pop star Katy Perry's attempts at staying relevant in a post-Taylor Swift world come off as desperate in her latest album Witness.
She dips into new music styles such as house, future bass and R&B throughout the 15-track album, where she has employed a bevy of producers, including longtime collaborator and pop music super producer Max Martin.
But the results are uneven. The mismatch between cool production and weak, idiosyncratic lyrics is the biggest letdown on Witness.
In Swish Swish, a supposed diss track with rapper Nicki Minaj, she takes weak digs at Swift: "A tiger don't lose no sleep, don't need opinions from a shellfish or a sheep."
The driving house beat on Deja Vu comes courtesy of future house proponent Hayden James (Something About You). However, inexplicably bad lyrics make an appearance again.
Then there is her disingenuous trumpeting of "purposeful pop", or pop music with a message, with the release of her first single, Chained To The Rhythm ("So comfortable, we're living in a bubble, bubble, so comfortable, we cannot see the trouble, trouble"). But the call to open your eyes begins and ends with that song.
Perhaps Perry should take a leaf from her own song Pendulum, in which she sings, "So don't try and reinvent your wheel", and stick to the power pop she is so good at doing instead.
Ever wondered what a Beethoven symphony cycle from the Singapore Symphony Orchestra might sound like on compact disc?
BEETHOVEN SYMPHONIES VOL. 2
SYMPHONIES NOS. 5-8
Copenhagen Phil /Shui Lan
Orchid Classics 100059 (2 CDs)/ 5/5 stars
In a crowded world of recorded Beethoven symphonies, SSO Music Director Shui Lan's vision for his Danish orchestra, the Copenhagen Phil (he was Chief Conductor from 2007-2015), stands out. Its spirit of freshness and vitality most resembles that of the 1990s ground-breaking cycle from his mentor David Zinman and the Zurich Tonhalle Orchestra (initially released on Arte Nova, but now reissued on Sony Classical).
The timings of the symphonies on both cycles are very similar, although Shui's very brisk view of the popular Fifth Symphony clocks in at just over 30 minutes. This and his account of the Seventh Symphony may be said to be breathtaking at near supersonic speeds.
Arguably even better is the Sixth Symphony or "Pastoral Symphony", where finer details come to the fore, notably in the serene Scene At The Brook and a most gripping Storm movement.
The Eighth Symphony, with its four movements of clockwork precision pacing, comes across as brilliant rather than hectic or forced. Highly recommended.
Chang Tou Liang