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"It Takes Two"
Song by Katy Perry from the album Prism
Recorded 2013;
Roc the Mic Studios
(New York City);
Westlake Recording Studios
(Los Angeles)
Length 3:54
Label Capitol
Prism track listing
"It Takes Two"
"Choose Your Battles"

"It Takes Two" is a song recorded by American singer-songwriter Katy Perry for her fourth studio album, Prism (2013). It was written by Perry, StarGate, Benny Blanco, and Emeli Sandé, with the production being handled by StarGate and Blanco. A blues-influenced pop soul song comparative to the work of 1960's musicians Johnny Cash and Janis Joplin, it features a driving beat and symphony-like harmonies. Lyrically, "It Takes Two" is about her breakup with John Mayer, and contains simple and "straightforward" lyrics which speak of accepting part of the blame for a failed relationship, although some critics have noted it to be about Perry's ex-husband, English comedian Russell Brand. The song received positive reviews from music critics, who complimented its positive nature, although others found it "bland". Upon the release of Prism in South Korea, "It Takes Two" debuted at number 114 on the South Korea Gaon International Chart.


"He pulled away. That was a big hello for me. I realised I could lose the person I loved and I had to deal with some things, issues I think a lot of women have. You can be so strong in one aspect of your life but submissive in another. In relationships, it was hard for me to speak up and set boundaries. I think a lot of that was to do with fear of loss."

—Perry speaking on her breakup from John Mayer, the song's inspiration.[1]

In a September 2013 interview with Elle UK, Perry first played interviewer Annabel Brog three songs written about current boyfriend John Mayer, including "It Takes Two" and "Unconditionally", from her upcoming album Prism (2013).[1] It was originally written when the pair were separated, however they later reconciled, saying: "I wrote it when we were still apart... And I just played it to him. He was really moved".[1] After the pair split, Perry decided to "reprogram" herself, including cutting out drinking coffee and alcohol, along with taking up to 30 herbal supplements a day.[1] Eventually, after therapy, she began to feel "brush away the cobwebs", and so the inspiration for the song came about.[1]

"It Takes Two" was written by Perry, Mikkel Eriksen, Tor Erik Hermansen, Benjamin Levin, and Emeli Sandé.[2] Production of the song was handled by Eriksen and Hermansen under their production name StarGate, along with Levin under his stage name Benny Blanco.[2] Eriksen served as the recording engineer, while Chris Sclafani assisted him.[2] Serban Ghenea mixed the song, while John Hanes was the mixing engineer.[2] All instrumentation and programming was handled by StarGate and Benny Blanco, and John Mayer played the guitar.[2] Speaking about working with Perry, Sandé said: "I’ve written a song for Katy Perry’s album, we did a session together in New York. She was awesome — she knows what she’s doing."[3]


Perry co-wrote "It Takes Two" with English-born Scottish recording artist Emeli Sandé.

At a length of three minutes and fifty-four seconds (3:54),[4] "It Takes Two" is a pop soul ballad,[5] and opens with a single electric guitar played by John Mayer,[2] which is gradually incorporated into the whole song.[6] According to Amy Sciarretto of PopCrush, the song shares a similar "melodic burst" with "Roar", characterized by its militaristic, building beat, which gradually develops until it "explodes"[7] Containing elements of blues music, the song utilizes a "symphony-like" harmony which underlies the main song, which combined with the guitar and the backup vocals, creates a "compelling" melody which has been described as "beautiful" and "forceful".[8] Musically, it has been compared to the works of 1960's rockers including Johnny Cash and Janis Joplin.[8] "It Takes Two" contains simple and "straightforward" lyrics that speak of taking part of the blame for a failed relationship.[6] According to The Daily reviewer Annaliese Davis, the song's lyrics are directed towards Perry's ex-husband, English comedian Russell Brand, evident in lines such as: "It takes two / Two sides to every story / Not just you / I can’t keep ignoring / I admit half of it / I’m not that innocent”.[9]

Critical reception[edit]

Natalie Palmer of Gigwise reacted positively to "It Takes Two", who praised its more positive nature compared to the other bonus tracks.[6] Calling it both "beautiful" and "forceful", reviewer Katie Weaver for Lancaster Online deemed the song reason enough to purchase the deluxe edition of the album.[8] Rob Harvilla of Spin was highly critical of the song, saying: "On sleepy bonus track "It Takes Two", seemingly a heartfelt apology to Perry's ex-husband for, oh, I don't know, maybe commissioning Empire Strikes Back-style carbonite statues of him and setting them aflame onstage at the Grammys. But that was at least memorable."[10] During his review of the album, Sam Lansky of Idolator was also negative of "It Takes Two", calling it "interminably dull".[3] Kevin Fallon of The Daily Beast called "It Takes Two" a "sweeping ballad" which allowed Perry to "show off a full-throated belt that so many of her more bubbly tracks mask".[11] Billboard reviewer Jason Lipshutz felt that the song did not sound right for Perry, saying it: "translates the soulful optimism of co-writer Emeli Sande's music into another instant of self-examination for Perry."[12]


In South Korea, upon the release of Prism, "It Takes Two" sold 1,809 copies which provided the position number 114 on the South Korea Gaon Download Chart.[13]

Chart (2013) Peak
South Korea (GDC)[13] 114

Credits and personnel[edit]

  • Recorded at Roc the Mic Studios, New York City, New York and Westlake Studios, Los Angeles, California.
  • Mixed at MixStar Studios, Virginia Beach, Virginia.
  • Songwriting – Katy Perry, Mikkel Eriksen, Tor Erik Hermansen, Benjamin Levin
  • Production – StarGate, Benny Blanco
  • Recording engineer – Mikkel Eriksen
  • Assistant engineer – Chris Sclafani
  • Mixing – Serban Ghenea
  • Mixing engineer  – John Hanes
  • Vocals – Katy Perry
  • Instruments and programming – StarGate, Benny Blanco
  • Additional guitar – John Mayer

Credits adapted from the liner notes of Prism, Capitol Records.[2]


  1. ^ a b c d e Brog, Annabel (September 30, 2013). "Katy Perry is ELLE's September issue cover star". Elle. Hachette Filipacchi Médias. Retrieved January 9, 2014. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Prism (inlay cover) (Media notes). Capitol Records. 2013. p. 8.  Unknown parameter |artist= ignored (|others= suggested) (help)
  3. ^ a b Lansky, Sam (September 5, 2013). "Emeli Sande Talks Writing Songs For Katy Perry & Britney Spears’ New Albums". Idolator. Buzz Media. Retrieved January 7, 2014. 
  4. ^ "Katy Perry — PRISM". iTunes Store. Apple Inc. September 30, 2013. Retrieved September 30, 2013. 
  5. ^ Kot, Greg (October 20, 2013). "Katy Perry, 'Prism' album review". Chicago Tribune. Tribune Company. Retrieved January 6, 2014. 
  6. ^ a b c Palmer, Natalie (October 21, 2013). "REVIEW: Katy Perry – 'Prism'". Gigwise. Digital Giant. Retrieved January 6, 2014. 
  7. ^ Sciarretto, Amy (October 22, 2013). "Katy Perry Prism – Album Review". PopCrush. Buzz Media. Retrieved October 22, 2013. 
  8. ^ a b c Weaver, Katie (November 17, 2013). "With 'PRISM,' Katy Perry makes a winning transition". Lancaster Online. Steinman Enterprises. Retrieved January 9, 2013. 
  9. ^ Davis, Annaliese (October 21, 2013). "Album Review: 'Prism,' Katy Perry". The Daily. University of Washington. Retrieved January 6, 2014. 
  10. ^ Harvilla, Rob (October 22, 2013). "Katy Perry Grows Up and Bums Us Out on Her Shrewd, Tepid 'Prism'". Spin. Spin Media. Retrieved January 9, 2014. 
  11. ^ Fallon, Kevin (October 22, 2013). "‘Prism’ Review: Katy Perry Perfects the Pop Blockbuster". The Daily Beast. The Daily Beast Newsweek Publishing. Retrieved January 7, 2014. 
  12. ^ Lipshutz, Jason (October 22, 2013). "Katy Perry's 'PRISM': Track-By-Track Review". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved January 9, 2014. 
  13. ^ a b "South Korea Gaon Download Chart". Gaon Chart. Retrieved 20 December 2013.