Pop music is, by design, kaleidoscopic, and Doja Cat's third album takes full advantage of its fluidity. Planet Her is ushered in on the euphoric Afropop of “Woman” and moves seamlessly into the reggaetón-kissed “Naked,” the hip-hop-meets-hyperpop of “Payday,” and the whimsical ad-lib trap of “Get Into It (Yuh)”—and that's just the first four songs. Later, R&B ballads and club-ready anthems also materialize from the ether, encompassing the spectrum of contemporary capital-P Pop and also the multihued sounds that are simply just popular, even if only in their corners of the internet for now.
This is Doja's strength. She's long understood how mainstream sensibility interacts with counterculture (or what's left of it anyway, for better and worse), and she's nimbly able to translate both. Planet Her checks all the right boxes and accentuates her talent for shape-shifting—she sounds just as comfortable rapping next to Young Thug or JID as she does crooning alongside The Weeknd or Ariana Grande—but it's so pristine, so in tune with the music of the moment that it almost verges on parody. Is this Doja's own reflection or her reflecting her fans back to themselves? Her brilliance lies in the fact that the answer doesn't much matter. The best pop music is nothing if not a blurring of the lines between reality and fantasy, its brightest stars so uniquely themselves and yet whatever else they need to be, too.