Music review by
Angela Zimmerman, Common Sense Media
Prism Music Poster Image
Mostly trite pop album has a few hooks and some sexy stuff.

Parents say

age 7+
Based on 2 reviews

Kids say

age 11+
Based on 13 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this music.

Positive Messages

There are positive messages throughout Prism. "Roar" is an empowering anthem that encourages strength and resistance, and "Unconditionally" is about unconditional love and acceptance. "Love Me" is about loving oneself all the way through, and "By the Grace of God" is about prevailing in the face of difficulty. Bonus track "It Takes Two" promotes forgiveness and self-acceptance. There are also not-so-positive messages, such as in "International Smile" and "This Is How We Do," both of which glamorize fame and money, the latter with superficial lyrics such as, "This goes out to all you people going to bed with a ten and waking up with a two." Maybe these songs were intended to be funny or satirical, but if so most listeners will miss out on the joke.

Positive Role Models & Representations

A few songs, such as "Roar," "Love Me," and "It Takes Two," have positive lyrics and encouraging messages and make Katy Perry seem like a good role model for kids. But there are also songs that glamorize a vapid lifestyle and superficial interests, which may negate any positive takeaways.


There's a decent amount of sexy lyrical content on Prism. "Birthday" has suggestive and sexual lyrics, such as "We can get it on so hot and heavy until dawn" and "Let me get in your birthday suit." "Walking on Air" is also really sexual. Lyrics include "You take me to utopia / you're reading me like erotica / boy, you make me feel exotic" and "Just when I think I can't take anymore / we go deeper and harder than ever before." "Dark Horse" is also quite sexual, particularly when Juicy J sings, "She ride me like a roller coaster / turn the bedroom into a fair."


In "Dark Horse" Juicy J sings, "Damn, I think I love her." Bonus track "Spiritual" explores Perry's religious awakening and has one use of "hell" as heard in the lyric "holy hell, and heaven high."


"This Is How We Do" name-drops Chanel and Maserati, and "International Smile" mentions Ray-Bans.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

There are a few vague mentions of drugs and alcohol. In "Dark Horse," love is somewhat explicitly compared to a drug addiction: "Her love is like a drug / I was tryna hit it and quit it / But lil' mama so dope / I messed around and got addicted" and "Shawty’s heart was on steroids." "This Is How We Do" starts with the lyric "Sipping on rosé."

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Prism is Katy Perry's fourth full-length album and contains hits "Roar," "Dark Horse," and "Walking on Air," which were previously released as singles. Perry's signature girl-power messages are heard on a few songs, and she also explores issues such as heartbreak, self-reflection, faith, and unconditional love, making for some somber, contemplative tracks. A few songs have religious messages, most notably the bonus track "Spiritual," which also has the word hell in the lyrics. There's a good bit of sexually suggestive content on songs "Birthday," "Walking on Air," and "Dark Horse (featuring Juicy J)," the latter of which also contains one "damn" and rather explicitly compares love to a drug addiction. The only reference to alcohol is in the line "sipping on rosé" at the start of "This Is How We Do." It should also be noted that "Roar" has been criticized for its similarities to Sara Bareilles' "Brave," but allegations that Perry intentionally ripped it off were essentially put to rest when the pop stars performed "Roar" together at a live charity event.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byJoãoPaulo28 August 5, 2015

A Clean Album

There's some sex refferences in the lyrics, but it isn't strong. In This Is How We Do have refferences for Drinks
Adult Written byJared Galczynski May 28, 2014

Katy Perry is innocent, Common Sense is guilty

I'm comin' at you like a dark horse, with the Eye of the Tiger, and you're gonna hear me roar!
Teen, 14 years old Written bylje984 January 27, 2018

This album is amazing, I recommend for 8+.

This is one of the most inspiring and uplifting albums I have ever heard. The 2 dots on "positive messages/role models" vs. the 3 on "sexual stuf... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written by17cmiller February 18, 2017
In This Is How You Do, There is inapropprite content like twerking ice cream and other stuff

What's the story?

PRISM is Katy Perry's fourth studio album. Written and recorded after her public divorce from actor Russell Brand, it shows a side of Perry that wasn't explored on earlier albums, with themes of heartbreak, karma, living in the moment, forgiveness, and spirituality. Tracks such as "Roar" and "It Takes Two" are strong anthemic sing-alongs, but there are also weepy ballads in "Double Rainbow" and "By the Grace of God" and contemplative songs like "Ghost" and "Spiritual." There are also a few superficial songs about fame, money, and image such as "This Is How We Do" and "International Smile."

Is it any good?

There are a few solid, catchy moments in Prism. Highlights include the undeniably rousing "Roar," the uplifting chorus of "Unconditionally" that captures Perry's ability to belt it out, and the mid-tempo anthem "This Moment." Even the dark bass of edgier track "Dark Horse (feat. Juicy J)" is a welcomed counterpoint to all the poppy synth. But overall, much of the record sounds trite and formulaic, with some cringe-worthy lyrics and a canned pop sound. For a pop princess who seemingly has a lot to say -- and a massive audience ready to receive it -- it's a shame that Prism ends up sounding so forgettable.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the image of Katy Perry as a pop superstar. How are pop stars "manufactured"? Can you differentiate between Katy Perry as a marketed brand and Katy Perry as an artist?

  • Perry reveals a bit of herself through songs about love lost, battling hardship, and spiritual awakening. What do these songs tell you about who she is beyond the pop-star facade?

  • Consider the evolution of a pop star like Madonna. How do you think Perry might evolve as a performer?

Music details

  • Artist: Katy Perry
  • Release date: October 18, 2013
  • Type: Album
  • Label: Capitol
  • Genre: Pop
  • Parental advisory: No
  • Edited version available: No
  • Last updated: November 11, 2020

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