Definitive Ranking of Every Song on Katy Perry's Smile Album
A decade ago (this very week, in fact), Katy Perry left a lasting impression on pop culture history with the release of Teenage Dream, a remarkably produced, thought-provoking collection of unique, timeless tracks that still evoke emotion when listened to today.
10 years later, a lot has changed. In addition to our political climate, the emergence of Spotify New Music Friday, TikTok and the pandemic (all of which play a role in what we're listening to, the frequency of new releases and how we react to what we hear), Katy's career trajectory has taken a turn as well. She hasn't had a musical success since 2013's Prism, and based on the effort (or lack thereof) that seeps through on her latest album Smile, perhaps she doesn't care?
The pop star just gave birth to her first child and is engaged to Orlando Bloom, so maybe that's all she needs. And that's totally okay, but if she's going to go through the effort of releasing an album for the first time since 2017's critical flop Witness, I think I speak for her fans when I say we'd appreciate her not phoning it in. To be completely honest, she actually tried with Witness. While it was an utter fail, she put effort into making it that bad.
As we embark on a rundown of every song released on Smile (can we rank that abominable cover art, too?), let it be known that this was tough because there aren't any distinct standouts like there have been on each of her other albums. While not gimmicky and ridiculous like Witness, this album is forgettable. With a solid selection of catchy, melodic hooks, there's definitely some production value, but there's seems to be a lot of forced heart behind the majority of these songs from a once-passionate artist.
Keep reading for our definitive ranking of all 12 songs on Smile from worst to best.
Every artist has a song that evokes the feeling you get when nails hit the chalkboard, and leading up to this release, Katy's song for me was "Unconditionally." "Resilient" brought back that same reaction—it's a song that attempts to be empowering and bold, yet fails with its poor melody and lackluster lyrics. Where "Roar" and "Firework" make you feel something powerful, this makes me cringe.
11. 'Not the End of the World'
Sampling Steam's 1969 feel-good hit "Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye," Katy makes another failed attempt at an empowering track about overcoming life's obstacles. The dull lyrics and tone-deaf message given the present times are buried under a forgettable melody, making this a must-skip on the tracklist.
10. 'What Makes a Woman'
A cross between a '90s Shania Twain release and early-era Taylor Swift, this country-tinged track that illustrates the mystique of being a woman feels ill-fitting on a primarily dance-filled album. The flat melody adds nothing to the already uninspiring lyrics.
9. 'Only Love'
Reminiscent of a late '80s or early '90s Christian contemporary melody, Katy slows things down to reflect on what she would do if she only had one day left to live. While certainly sweet, it feels out of flux.
8. 'Champagne Problems'
For a song that celebrates overcoming relationship obstacles, I had higher hopes. Unfortunately, like many other songs on the album, there doesn't appear to be any real passion here, making it difficult to connect with the singer and her journey.
Katy certainly tries here, but unfortunately her efforts aren't good enough, in yet another failed attempt at fiercely letting the world know she's come out her dark days and is better than ever. While it's understandable that she's trying to keep up with the times and the ever-changing blueprint of contemporary music, I can't help but wish she would rework her "Firework" formula in some way.
Alright, I'll give this song credit where it's due. This is the first track on the ranking that actually perks up my ears. While this song lacks any emotion, maybe that's okay in exchange for a strong enough melody to make up for it. Though I wouldn't go out of my way to hear it, if it came on in someone's car, I wouldn't change it.
5. 'Harleys in Hawaii'
The lyrics here are silly and the rhymes don't quite flow, but truly, that actually works here. Where the other songs on the album try way too hard, this unabashedly embraces carefree ambiance. Co-written and co-produced by Charlie Puth, this is a unique standout on the album and reminds us of yesteryear Katy Perry, who didn't take herself too seriously.
"Daisies" is not a bad song, but as a single, I think fans were hoping for something a bit more exciting and fun. While the track certainly represents the singer's personal strength and evolution, as an artist I don't think this shows a lot of professional development.
3. 'Cry About It Later'
For an album so much about growth and strength, the lyrics here feel so cheap. And the fact that it makes No. 3 on this list really says something, huh? But lyrics aside, I think the melody overtakes the track. It's okay for a song to not have deep meaning—though for an album that prides itself on deep reflection, perhaps I'd expect this song to follow suit. Moving on… let's dance, amirite?
2. 'Teary Eyes'
Much like the aforementioned, the lyrics are a bit low-budget, but hey, not complaining. I'm super into the melody here, and sometimes we just don't want to think—so this song is a nice reprieve from anything else going on in the head.
1. 'Never Really Over'
This song—undoubtedly Katy's best effort in years—hasn't gotten the credit it deserves. I think we all had the same reaction when it came out as a single: This is actually really good, but no one seems to care. I figured this was a precursor to something much better to come. Welp, after listening to the album far more than I probably ever will again, I can tell you this is the best you're going to get. Taking cues from her Teenage Dream era, this proves she does know how to revert back to a formula that worked so well for her. With passion, relatability and evoked emotion here, it's evident the singer still has what it takes. Let's hope she takes note moving forward and gives us more of where this came from.
Are you a big Katy Perry fan? If so, use one of THESE lyrics from the singer as your next Instagram captions.