From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
"Dark Horse"
Promotional single by Katy Perry featuring Juicy J from the album Prism
Released September 17, 2013
Format Digital download
Recorded 2013; Playback Recording Studios
(Santa Barbara, California)
Length 3:35
Label Capitol
Prism track listing
"Dark Horse"
"This Is How We Do"

"Dark Horse" is a song by American singer-songwriter Katy Perry for her fourth studio album, Prism (2013). It was released on September 17, 2013 by Capitol Records as the first promotional single from the record, following the lead single "Roar". It was written by Perry, Jordan Houston, Lukasz Gottwald, Sarah Hudson, Max Martin, and Henry Walter, while the production was handled by Martin along with Gottwald and Walter under their production name's Dr. Luke and Cirkut, and features guest vocals from Juicy J. The song was originally conceived by Perry and Hudson during a writing session in Perry's hometown of Santa Barbara, to which she then requested that the song's producer Dr. Luke contact Juicy J to invite him to perform on the song as well.

"Dark Horse" combines the genres of trap, grime, and hip hop, creating what has been described as a "Southern rap-techno mashup", while drawing elements from musical styles such as pop, EDM, and dubstep. It contains darker and sexier themes not seen in her previous work, and features a minimal production, with Perry's vocals being sung in a "seductive" and "mature" tone, while Juicy J is featured on the song's intro and rapped-bridge. According to the singer, she wanted the song to have a "witchy, spell-y kind of black magic-y idea", so she wrote it from the perspective of a witch warning a man not to fall in love with her, and if he does, she will be his last. Prior to it's release, Perry and Pepsi had hosted a competition where by fans could decide the release of either "Dark Horse" or "Walking on Air" as the first promotional single by tweeting.

Upon release, "Dark Horse" received critical acclaim from contemporary music critics, who praised it's experimentation with urban music, but were divided on Juicy J's contribution to the song. Despite not being released as a single, the song charted on a multitude charts worldwide, including number 17 on the US Billboard Hot 100 and number 8 on the Canadian Hot 100, while it's highest peak was at number 2 on the New Zealand Singles Chart. Perry first performed the song live at the 2013 iHeartRadio Music Festival in Las Vegas on September 20, 2013. The performance received mixed reviews, with Perry's dancing being criticized.

Background and development[edit]

"My verse I did on that song, she was singing it. She’s really a genius, she was by the mixing board and telling the guy what to take in and take out. She’s really hands-on with her music, she knows music."

—Juicy J talking about his experience working with Perry.[1]

In June 2012, Perry revealed in an interview with L'Uomo Vogue that after the release of her autobiographical film, Katy Perry: Part of Me, planned to take a hiatus before recording her fourth studio album.[2] In a later interview with Billboard, she reiterated these statements, saying: "I know exactly the record I want to make next. I know the artwork, the coloring and the tone..... I even know what type of tour I'm doing next. I'll be very pleased if the vision I have in my head becomes a reality."[3] Originally, Perry wanted to create a "darker" album due to her divorce from English comedian Russell Brand, which would touch on the issues of heartbreak and personal issues, while also noting it would be influenced by the works of Madonna.[2]

"Dark Horse" was written by Perry, Jordan Houston, Lukasz Gottwald, Sarah Hudson, Max Martin, and Henry Walter, while production of the song was handled by Martin along with Gottwald and Walter under their production names Dr. Luke and Cirkut.[4] Perry had originally written the song with Sarah Hudson, a long-time friend, in her hometown of Santa Barbara, California,[5] she then contacted the song's producer Dr. Luke to invite Juicy J to provide a guest verse.[1] In an interview with MTV News, Juicy J said that the recording sessions with Perry went smoothly, complimenting Perry's professionalism and praising her hands-on approach and work ethic.[1] Perry said the song was a "warning", explaining that she wrote it from the perspective of a witch warning a man not to fall in love with her.[5] Described as a "witchy, spell-y kind of black magic-y idea", Perry spoke of the song in further detail, saying: "It's kind of a juxtaposition. It's got me, a pop artist, with a little bit of an urban kind of hip-hop-flavored background soundtrack to it, and the lyrics are kind of witchy and dark, as if I was a witch warning this man not to fall in love with me, and if you do know I'm going to be your last."[5]

Production and composition[edit]

"Dark Horse" was recorded and engineered at Luke's in the Boo in Malibu, Conway Recording Studios in Hollywood, Playback Recording Studios in Santa Barbara, and Secret Garden Studios in Montecito, California, as well as MXM Studios in Stockholm, Sweden.[4] It was engineered by Peter Carlsson, Mike "Crazy Mike" Foster, Clint Gibbs, Sam Holland, and Michael Ilbert.[4] They were assisted by Eric Eylands, Rachael Findlen, Justin Fox, Elliot Lanam, and Cory Bice.[4] It was mixed by Serban Ghenea, while John Hanes served as the engineer for mix.[4] All instrumentation and programming was done by Dr. Luke, Max Martin, and Cirkut.[4]

"Dark Horse" has been described as a "Southern rap-techno mashup",[6] combining trap,[7][8] grime,[9][10] and hip hop,[9][10] and has a length of three minutes and thirty-five seconds.[11] According to Vibe's Keith Murphy, "Dark Horse" is an antithesis of her previous work, calling it "dark and sleazy without the morning after guilt", which sees the singer take on the role of an addictive drug as she warns her lover that he will undoubtedly become hooked. He went on to to say: "Perry is toying around with her safe-to-take-home-to-mom image by jumping on the Trap Pop bandwagon. But when you have a groove this infectiously sexy and a good girl willing to go all the way, what’s to complain about?"[12] Musically, the verses are built around icy rhythms and chopped and screwed vocal samples, while the chorus' feature Perry singing into a gradual crescendo.[13] In the song, Perry sings in a seductive-tone, as she warns her prospective lover “So you want to play with magic / You should know what you are falling for / Baby do you dare to do this / Because I’m coming at you like a dark horse.”[14] Over a grimy, "incredibly simplistic" production,[7] the song is comprised of Perry’s voice, a piano melody, fingersnaps and an undulating hip-hop beat,[14] while Juicy J provides the intro and the rapped-bridge.[14] According to Kathy Iandoli of MSN Entertainment, "Dark Horse" contains a mixture of elements from "trippy pop", EDM, and dubstep.[15]

Described as a "warning", the lyrics find the singer telling "a prospective suitor to tread lightly and to proceed with caution, since her love is powerful, passionate and not to be messed with or treated carelessly. She’s a goddess like Aphrodite, so treat her like it.", according to Amy Sciaretto of PopCrush.[14] Sciaretto said the song "more deliberate in making its points, and it’s slower and sultrier" than "Roar", while noting the song had an urban composition, specifically calling it "hip pop".[14] A writer for the Winnipeg Free Press said "Dark Horse" was "brooding, borderline sleazy trap-pop excursion that comes across like a stripped-down version of E.T. mixed with Grindin' by The Clipse."[16] Going on to call it unexpected, unconventional, and unstoppable.[16] Upon release, the song's intro received comparisons to that of the late Indonesian lady rocker, Nike Ardilla, specifically her song "Tinggallah Ku Sendiri" (Leave Me Alone).[17]


In order to give fans a chance to unlock either "Dark Horse" or "Walking on Air", Perry partnered with Pepsi to host a competition where fans could decide which song would be released by tweeting.

On August 20, 2013, two new song titles were revealed: "Dark Horse" and "Walking on Air".[18] In collaboration with Pepsi, fans were given the ability to listen to the snippets of each song, then to decide which one would get an early release by voting on Twitter.[18] On their official website, Pepsi released a press statement saying:

"To build excitement and anticipation for Katy Perry's forthcoming new album, PRISM, MTV and Pepsi today are launching a pioneering tweet-to-unlock and social voting program that encourages fans to decide on one of two new Katy Perry songs from the new record that will be released early on iTunes. Fans who tweet #KATYNOW will unlock clues around two of the album's tracks, including the song titles and select lyrics. Once fans have unlocked the song clues by reaching a certain number of tweets, Pepsi and MTV will unveil the two never-before-heard preview clips via Pepsi and MTV give fans a chance to sample the songs and decide which one will be released early by tweeting, using one of two unique hashtags to vote. The winning song, which will be released on Tuesday, September 17 via iTunes album pre-order, will be revealed live on MTV just moments before Katy's VMA performance."[18]

Speaking of working with Perry, the Senior Director of Marketing for Pepsi, Chad Stubbs, said: "We're excited to support a talented and iconic artist like Katy Perry to offer her fans these amazing opportunities, we hope through the continuation of our Iconic Summer program to give consumers a VMA experience that they will never forget."[18] On August 25, 2013, Perry announced the winner through her official Twitter, "YO what a day! #ROAR-ing @ the #VMAs, Tweeting w/POTUS, & now happy to announce U chose #DARKHORSE FT @therealjuicyj to come out Sept 17th!"[19]

Critical reception[edit]

Critics were divided on the inclusion of rapper Juicy J on the song, who provided the intro and a rap verse to "Dark Horse".

Amy Sciaretto from PopCrush gave the song 3.5 stars out of 5, complimenting the singer's foray into the world of urban music, saying the song was slow and sultry, which allowed it to be more "deliberate in making its points", while also comparing it to another Perry song, "E.T.". She praised Juicy J's guest verse, calling him the "voice of reason", and concluded the review by saying "We like when Perry does sassy in a subdued way."[14] The Line of Best Fit reviewer Rachel Bolland was critical of Juicy J's "less than arousing" part in the song, but overall was positive towards "Dark Horse", calling it: "one of the sexier songs on the album, pairing Perry’s sultry vocals with more of a hip-hop beat".[20] Jason Lipshutz of Billboard said: "The pop singer sashays toward trap music on "Dark Horse" and absolutely scores; the dank, murmuring production on the song is not the easiest track to navigate, but Perry shape-shifts into a lip-puckering femme fatale and slays." Lipshutz was highly critical of Juicy J's inclusion, but said that Perry rescues it with a "barn-burning" final chorus.

Release and promotion[edit]

"Dark Horse" was first performed at the iHeartRadio Music Festival in Las Vegas on September 20, 2013, with a selection of other songs from Perry's previous albums, as well as her lead single off Prism, "Roar".[21] It was later performed at the iTunes Festival in London alongside "Roar", "Walking on Air", and "By the Grace of God", a new song from Prism, as well as a number of songs from her previous albums.[22]

Commercial performance[edit]

On the Billboard Hot 100, the song debuted at number seventeen on the week-ending October 5. It debuted at number four on the Hot Digital Songs with 194,000 downloads.[13] On the week-ending September 23, "Dark Horse" debuted at number ten on the New Zealand Singles Chart becoming Perry's twelfth top ten.[23] The following week, "Dark Horse" rose to number six, just one place short of entering the top five.[24] The song has currently reached a peak of two on the chart, and has been certified gold by RMNZ. In the UK, on the week-ending September 28, "Dark Horse" debuted at number 21 on the UK Singles Chart.[25]

Credits and personnel[edit]



Chart (2013) Peak
Australian ARIA Digital Track Chart[26] 5
Austria (Ö3 Austria Top 40)[27] 45
Belgium (Ultratop 50 Wallonia)[28] 43
Canada (Canadian Hot 100)[29] 8
France (SNEP)[30] 35
Ireland (IRMA)[31] 20
Netherlands (Single Top 100)[32] 74
New Zealand (Recorded Music NZ)[33] 2
Scotland (Official Charts Company)[34] 17
Spain (PROMUSICAE)[35] 29
UK Singles (Official Charts Company)[36] 21
US Billboard Hot 100[37] 17

Quick inline citations[edit]

<ref name="">{{cite web |url= |title= |first= |last= |work= |publisher= |date= |accessdate= }}</ref>


  1. ^ a b c Markman, Rob (September 10, 2013). "Katy Perry’s ‘Dark Horse’ Shows Off Her ‘Genius,’ Juicy J Says". MTV News. Viacom. Retrieved September 22, 2013. 
  2. ^ a b Vena, Jocelyn (June 29, 2012). "Katy Perry Inspired By Madonna For 'Darker' Next Album". MTV News. Viacom Media Networks. Retrieved September 19, 2013. 
  3. ^ "Katy Perry Won't Rush New Album: "I Know Exactly The Record I Want To Make Next"". Capital FM. Capital FM. December 1, 2012. Retrieved September 19, 2013. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f Prism (inlay cover) (Media notes). Capitol Records. 2013. p. 6.  Unknown parameter |artist= ignored (|others= suggested) (help)
  5. ^ a b c Garibaldi, Christina (August 29, 2013). "Katy Perry's 'Dark Horse' Is A 'Warning'". MTV News. Viacom Media Networks. Retrieved December 8, 2013. 
  6. ^ Fedaku, Mesfin (September 6, 2013). "Katy Perry Previews New Album ‘Prism’ at NYC Event". The Denver Post. MediaNews Group. Retrieved September 6, 2013. 
  7. ^ a b Lipshutz, Jason (September 6, 2013). "Katy Perry's 'Prism' Album Preview: 10 Things You Need To Know". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved September 22, 2013. 
  8. ^ "Listen: Katy Perry goes trap with Juicy J on “Dark Horse”". Consequence of Sound. September 17, 2013. Retrieved September 22, 2013. 
  9. ^ a b Lipshutz, Jason (September 6, 2013). "Katy Perry's 'Prism' Album Preview: 10 Things You Need To Know". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved September 6, 2013. 
  10. ^ a b "Miley Cyrus, Britney Spears, Katy Perry: Whose New Song Is Best?". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. September 17, 2013. Retrieved September 22, 2013. 
  11. ^ "Katy Perry — "Prism"". ITunes. Capitol Records. September 17, 2013. Retrieved September 17 2013.  Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  12. ^ Murphy, Keith (September 17, 2013). "Katy Perry Visits the Trap (With Juicy J) on 'Dark Horse'". Vibe. Vibe Media. Retrieved December 11, 2013. 
  13. ^ a b Lipshutz, Jason (September 17, 2013). "Katy Perry Teams With Juicy J on 'Dark Horse': Hear The New Track". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved September 22, 2013. 
  14. ^ a b c d e f Sciaretto, Amy (September 17, 2013). "Katy Perry — "Dark Horse" feat. Juicy J Review". PopCrush. Buzzmedia. Retrieved September 22, 2013. 
  15. ^ Iandoli, Kathy (September 17, 2013). "Katy Perry enlists Juicy J for her fan-voted next single 'Dark Horse'". MSN Entertainment. Microsoft. Retrieved December 8, 2013. 
  16. ^ a b "New music". Winnipeg Free Press. Bob Cox. September 26, 2013. Retrieved December 11, 2013. 
  17. ^ "Katy Perry - Nike Ardilla Ternyata Punya Kemiripan!" (in Indonesian). September 18, 2013. Retrieved October 4, 2013. 
  18. ^ a b c d "Pepsi And MTV Team Up With Global Superstar Katy Perry For Special Finale Performance From Undisclosed Location In Brooklyn During The 2013 "MTV Video Music Awards"". Pepsi. PepsiCo. August 20, 2013. Retrieved August 19, 2013. 
  19. ^ Toomey, Alyssa (August 26, 2013). "Katy Perry Debuts "Dark Horse" and "Walking on Air" Teaser Tracks—Listen Now!". E! News. NBCUniversal. Retrieved September 19, 2013. 
  20. ^ Bolland, Rachel (October 24, 2013). "Katy Perry – Prism". The Line of Best Fit. Retrieved December 11, 2013. 
  21. ^ "Katy Perry Brings The Hits And Juicy J! To iHeartRadio Music Festival". MTV News. Viacom. Retrieved September 25, 2013. 
  22. ^ "Katy Perry closes iTunes Festival". Belfast Telegraph. Belfast Telegraph. Retrieved October 1, 2013. 
  23. ^ "NZ Chart: Week of September 23, 2013". Hung Medien. Retrieved September 27, 2013. 
  24. ^ "NZ Chart: Week of September 30, 2013". Hung Medien. Retrieved September 27, 2013. 
  25. ^ "UK Singles Chart: Week of September 28, 2013". UK SIngles Chart. The Official Charts Company. Retrieved September 25, 2013. 
  26. ^ "ARIA Digital Tracks Chart". ARIA Charts. October 7, 2013. Retrieved October 7, 2013. 
  27. ^ " – Katy Perry feat. Juicy J – Dark Horse" (in German). Ö3 Austria Top 40.
  28. ^ " – Katy Perry feat. Juicy J – Dark Horse" (in French). Ultratop 50.
  29. ^ "Canadian Hot 100: Week of October 5, 2013". Billboard. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. Retrieved September 25, 2013. 
  30. ^ " – Katy Perry feat. Juicy J – Dark Horse" (in French). Les classement single.
  31. ^ "Chart Track: Week 39, 2013". Irish Singles Chart.
  32. ^ " – Katy Perry feat. Juicy J – Dark Horse" (in Dutch). Single Top 100.
  33. ^ " – Katy Perry feat. Juicy J – Dark Horse". Top 40 Singles.
  34. ^ "Archive Chart: 2013-09-28". Scottish Singles Top 40.
  35. ^ " – Katy Perry feat. Juicy J – Dark Horse" Canciones Top 50.
  36. ^ "Archive Chart: 2013-09-28" UK Singles Chart.
  37. ^ "Hot 100: Week of October 5, 2013". Billboard. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. Retrieved September 25, 2013.