Katy Perry is a master at appropriation who also happens to occasionally write a great pop song.
That combination has served her well -- especially on "Teenage Dream," which sent a record-tying five singles to No. 1. However, on "Prism" (Capitol), she tries on a wide range of styles that simply don't suit her, and her ability (desire?) to mask her influences has dwindled so low, she faced a controversy about how close "Roar" sounds to Sara Bareilles' "Brave." (BTW, the opening of "This Moment," destined to be another hit, is pretty much the same as Robyn's "Dancing on My Own.")
At this point, though, that's the least of her problems. "Legendary Lovers" is such a bad "tribute" to Buddhism and Indian music that it's practically a joke, with lyrics like "I feel my lotus bloom" and "You are my destiny, my mantra." On "Spiritual," she seems to poorly channel Sarah McLachlan. And she ruins the decent "Unconditionally," by ridiculously mispronouncing the word as "uncondiSHUNally," for no good reason.
What makes this all the more maddening is that when Perry offers a glimpse into her real emotions, she can be powerful. Her portrayal of the collapse of her marriage to Russell Brand in "Ghost" is stunning, while her love for John Mayer shines through in "Double Rainbow." It works far better than her shout-outs to "All you kids buying bottle service with your rent money!" in the otherwise catchy "This Is What We Do." Katy, dear, Miley Cyrus has already appropriated that market from you.
BOTTOM LINE Katy needs to find some new tricks