Few artists have flirted with pop perfection as often as Katy Perry. After all, the pop star is in possession of one of the most hit-filled discographies in recent memory.
It’s not just her singles (which include nine veritable chart-toppers on the Billboard Hot 100) that are solid-gold, either. Many of the other tracks and B-sides on her albums are just as good — if not better then, at times — as those that receive the proper single treatment. Take “Walking on Air” for example.
The ’90’s-inspired house cut was released as a promotional single ahead of Perry’s 2013 album Prism. At the time, the performer had already topped the Hot 100 with lead single “Roar” and dropped another promo track.
You might have heard of it before: “Dark Horse.” The name likely rings a bell as the trap-pop song went on to become the era’s second chart-topper and an inescapable hit when it received the full single treatment.
But “Walking on Air” never got the same chance, which is a genuine tragedy. The decadent anthem inspired by ’90s club staples like CeCe Peniston and Crystal Waters deserved a chance to shine.
“You’re giving me sweet, sweet ecstasy / Yeah, you take me to utopia,” Perry coos on the track over a pulsing production courtesy of Klas Frans Ahlund. The producer boasts an impressive list of collaborators including Robyn and Britney Spears, and he serves some of his best studio work here.
“Just when I think I can’t take anymore / We go deeper and hotter than ever before / We go higher and higher / I feel like I’m already there,” Perry purrs as the beats build under her voice.
Then the heavenly chorus kicks in: “I’m walking on air / Tonight, I’m walking on air!” It’s transcendent.
Simple but direct, nostalgic but fresh, “Walking On Air” had the makings of a true smash. Its trajectory seemed written in the stars after it was included on the set list for the Prismatic World Tour and received an exemplary performance on Saturday Night Live, complete with Perry in a The Craft-esque ’90s schoolgirl outfit and diva-worthy choreography.
Looking back now, the frothy and undeniable bop could have effortlessly closed out an otherwise flagging era. Instead, the lukewarm “This Is How We Do” — the album’s last official single — became Perry’s first to miss out on the Top 20 of the Billboard Hot 100 since 2009’s “Thinking Of You.”
In terms of Katy Perry lore, “Walking on Air” truly is “The One That Got Away.” (Yes, we really had to make that reference.) Which is exactly why KatyCats across the globe celebrated when a rumor circulating on Twitter claimed “Walking on Air” will come out of retirement during Perry’s upcoming Las Vegas residency, Play.
Is this a sign that the singer is considering dabbling in dance-pop for an upcoming project? Or does she just want to pay tribute to a hidden gem now that she has the time? We’ll have to wait and see. Either way, we’re crossing our fingers that this under-appreciated banger finally gets the love it deserved nearly a decade ago.