The singer has livestreamed her life online to promote her new album
"Witness," her fourth studio album for Capitol Records, was released Friday
To promote her new album Witness, Katy Perry has been live streaming her life on YouTube 24 hours a day since Thursday from a home in Los Angeles. I’ve found myself surprisingly captivated, tuning in throughout the weekend to watch her get her makeup done, be interviewed, and even sleep.
There were plenty of political moments, like an interview with activist DeRay McKesson Saturday and a dinner last night that included guests Caitlyn Jenner, and CNN commentators Van Jones, Ana Navarro and Sally Kohn.
To anyone vaguely familiar with Katy’s politics, there was nothing particularly surprising – she’s aggressively earnest and compassionately liberal – but what struck me was the missionary zeal with which the former Christian singer takes her politics. The Washington Post called her album “half-woke.” During the live stream she almost like a convert, newly aware of social injustice and privilege, having faced blowback for controversies like wearing cornrows in her music video for the song “This Is How We Do” or making a joke referencing Britney Spears’ breakdown seen as insensitive to those with mental health problems. “I listened and I heard and I didn’t know,” she said during a podcast interview with McKesson, the activist. “I will never understand some of those things because of who I am,” but, “I can educate myself, and that’s what I’m trying to do along the way.”
“Witness” isn’t just the name of her album, it’s a way of life.
She said during the livestream she wants to be an “active witness,” she talked frequently about how she has political disagreements with her parents but still loves them and listens to them, she atoned for her insensitive and politically incorrect comments in the past (“The whole world is keeping me accountable and I hope that we can keep each other accountable, with compassion”), and she wished everyone well, from Instagram-famous makeup artists who seemed a little too thirsty in their sudden proximity to celebrity to even Taylor Swift.
“God bless you on your journey,” she would say time and time again.
I’ve previously called Katy the Hillary Clinton of pop, and this seemed like a continuation of that, hyper-focused on Clinton’s campaign message of “stronger together” and “love and kindness.” She’s also someone who can be extremely transparent in what influences her, following fellow pop stars or the latest Internet memes a little too closely or a little too late. After Lady Gaga stunned the VMAs with multiple flashy costume changes during the 2010 show (the meat dress was just one of her looks that night), Katy did her own version of the multiple costume change at the 2011 VMAs. But it felt like a stale stunt, ~reductive~, if you will, and Gaga spent entirety of the 2011 show in drag, dressed as her alter-ego Jo Calderone.
I remember thinking at the time Katy felt late to the party, left in the dust.
Even as Katy follows her political icon, Clinton herself has moved on.
“Stronger Together” didn’t win an election, and Clinton these days is often throwing punches and willing to pick fights. Katy seems stuck in 2016, promoting an album with love and kindness even as critics pan the record and her pop rival Swift plays petty, dropping her entire discography on streaming services perhaps to steal the spotlight.
But Katy seemed unbothered by any outside storm, eternally optimistic, and driven by her mission.
“I want to spread love and hope and kindness to all the people of the world,” she said.