Katy Perry is no stranger to the extended, over-the-top sexual metaphor (see: “Peacock”) or even sex-as-food similes (the molten popsicles of “California Gurls,” the whipped cream-shooting bras of her touring act). So when, on her new single, a line appears about being “spread like a buffet,” we know she is re-fixated on the prime Perry preoccupations, not slumming to do a chuck wagon commercial. But she’s never doubled down on double entendres quite to the degree she does in “Bon Appetit,” a gleefully ridiculous exercise in chewing the comedic scenery by presenting female sexuality as a four-course-plus meal. You may not know whether to giggle or gag at Perry’s barrage of carnal/culinary one-liners; the song should come with its own Heimlich maneuver, just in case.
It’s a fine line between audaciously hilarious and risible. “You could use some sugar / ‘Cause your levels ain’t right,” she sings, becoming the first performer in recent memory to invoke the semiotics of diabetes in the service of a seduction. “I’m a five-star Michelin / A Kobe flown in… Eat with your hands, fine…” You might be thinking she’s too inventive to go for the most obvious food/sex references, but “Bon Appetit” finally has no such pride, so rest assured that by song’s end, there will be cherry pie.
After a lot of career-establishing singles that had Perry working with the superstar team of Dr. Luke and Max Martin, Luke is absent here, and so is the rock-ish edge underlying some of her greatest hits. With Martin being joined at the track’s helm by Shellback and Oscar Holter, she moves further into a pure EDM-pop realm here, aiming at a dance floor that may not quite be sure whether to bust a move or a gut. Given the formidable team involved, you might wonder why there isn’t a musical hook here as strong as the ones they’re all famous for. But they’re probably saving those for follow-up tracks that don’t have to leave room for raps by the Atlanta trio Migos (fellow artists on the Capitol Music Group roster), or that are designed to have a shelf life longer than one of the erotic baked goods turned out by the Voodoo Doughnut chain.
Perry is presumably saving the real beef for a follow-up single from her upcoming fourth album, which will probably be more “Roar” or “Firework” and less bubble-smut. But for now, we’ve got lines like “whipped cream, no dairy,” which should go down in the pop history books as the 2017-iest of all possible entendres.
[Editor’s note: a previous version of this review misidentified the song “Peacock.”]