Katy Perry Is a Masterful Wordsmith

Katy Perry. Photo: Rich Fury/Getty Images

Nobody loves a good figure of speech more than Katy Perry. And on her new album, Witness, Perry deftly proves that she has mastered much of the junior-high English curriculum: We’ve got metaphors, similes, personification, and alliteration — heck, even some onomatopoeia. Sure, there’s a few mixed metaphors, and some of the songs veer into word-salad territory, but in terms of the sheer, um, scope, of her imagery, Katy is unparalleled.

For instance:

She finds so many different ways to talk about the ocean (these are from three different songs).

The world’s your oyster, and I am the pearl / Open waters / Sink into me slowly
Can’t go with the flow, got to make waves / Even though, I look at the sand and I’m just one grain
I was a ship floating aimlessly … Then you came in like a sailor with a heart that anchored me / And every day I wake up grateful I’m no longer lost at sea

She compares someone to an old coupon:

You’re ‘bout cute as / An old coupon expired / And karma’s not a liar / She keeps receipts

She reimagines the Michelin Star system:

You could use some sugar / ‘Cause your levels ain’t right / I’m a five-star Michelin / A Kobe flown in / You want what I’m cooking, boy

She pays homage to the noble tradition of Fabergé-egg making:

You think that I am fragile like a Fabergé / You think that I am cracking, but you can’t break me

She wades into the gun-control debate:

’Cause my love’s a bullet with your name written on it / Just load it and spin it

She references obscure medieval-torture methods:

Your words are like Chinese water torture / And there’s no finish line, always one more corner / Yeah, they slither like a centipede / Why do you keep me at the end of a rope that keeps getting shorter?

She has definitely maybe been to Asia:

’Cause I can be zen, and I can be the storm, yeah / Smell like a rose, and I pierce like a thorn, yeah / Karate chopping the clichés and norms all in a dress

She mixes metaphors with aplomb:

Caught in a cage / A complex cage / Am I a car on fire? / Will I be devoured?

She encompasses multitudes:

A big beautiful brain with a pretty face, yeah / A babydoll with a briefcase, yeah / A hot little hurricane / ‘Cause I’m feminine and soft, but I’m still a boss, yeah / Red lipstick but still so raw, yeah / Marilyn Monroe in a monster truck

Katy: a philosopher and a poet.

Katy Perry Is a Masterful Wordsmith