Katy Perry – Prism

November 12, 2013 at 3:13 PM | Posted in Katy Perry | Leave a comment

ALBUM REVIEW
Katy Perry – Prism

1. Roar
2. Legendary Lovers
3. Birthday
4. Walking On Air
5. Unconditionally
6. Dark Horse (feat. Juicy J)7. This Is How We Do
8. International Smile
9. Ghost
10. Love Me
11. This Moment
12. Double Rainbow
13. By The Grace Of God
14. Spiritual
15. It Takes Two
16. Choose Your Battles

♦ ♦ ♦

Prism is the fourth studio album by American singer-songwriter Katy Perry, released on October 18, 2013. The album peaked at #1 on the British and Irish charts and received generally positive reviews from music critics.

Love this photoshoot, really. Also, I adore Roar like crazy. This is an amazing empowerment anthem about standing up for oneself, filled with strong percussion and synths. I love how this song is a combination of power pop and multiple types of rock music, like arena rock. It all fits perfectly together, with Katy’s strong vocals as the cherry on top. I hear you roar, girl!

Legendary Lovers is probably one of Katy’s most original songs to date, starting off slowly but then developing into a bhangra-driven creation with matching lyrics about karma and infinity. The bridge really brings in that exotic Bollywood kind of feel that was missing in the first half of the song, but when it’s there it’s all finally complete. It’s so cool to hear Katy tackle a song like this!

In her own words, Katy describes Birthday as ‘something Mariah Carey would’ve put on her first record’. She couldn’t have been more right, this reall IS Katy going all Mariah on us. The oldschool and funky 90s Mariah, that is. A song with the name ‘Birthday’ has to be a happy song, and this definitely lives up to the expectations. I love the little brassy influences in the background, this song is some celebration alright.

The fourth song in a row with its own distinctive style: Walking On Air shows off Katy’s take on 90s Eurodance and deep house music and this really takes me back into the 90s. Katy did it again, creating a club banger that can’t be forgotten because of its extremely catchy vibe. I’d like to give her some extra credits for her solid and energetic vocals, she really captures the uplifting spirit of the song with her voice.

Unconditionally is the second single off the album and it’s about unconditional love in all its forms. Wow, that’s deep. Anyway, this is Katy’s personal favorite and I totally see why. It’s not a ballad and yet it’s also not an uptempo song, it’s like this song combines both of these elements in one. Musically, it’s the perfect follow-up for Roar because of its clear power pop ambience, combined with some minor rock and electronic elements. Perfect as the second single.

Dark Horse (feat. Juicy J) shows off yet another side of Katy, a very dark and sleazy side that is. Because Juicy J is involved, this track is heavily influenced by hiphop and grime with just a bit of techno (that’s some original stuff, right?). Both Katy and Juicy J both find their way perfectly into this track, working together and not outperforming each other so there’s a perfect balance in everything. I always wanted to hear Katy do a deep hiphop track and I finally had my wish!

Damn, This Is How We Do really caught my attention! Flowing smoothly out of the smooth vibe that Dark Horse had, this is another hiphop influenced pop track with a lot of synths to dance to. It’s like a summer song released way too late, so hopefully this one returns in the Summer of 2014 to slay everything. Being a kind of 80s throwback song, ofcourse I had to adore this club banger. Repeat please!

At first I thought International Smile was a bit more generic and typical Katy Perry song, but boy was I wrong. Ofcourse, this song is destined to be played numerous times on the dancefloors, but Katy made it funky. Fun fact,:in the bridge there is this kind of vocoder breakdown that made me think of Daft Punk very much, so cool. Katy can throw this infectuous stuff on me anytime.

Ghost tones everything down for a moment as the somber ballad on the album. It’s midtempo so there’s still a sense of energy here, but the strings in the background emphasize the emotional side of the song very well. Katy uses just the right amount of emotion in her vocals, not oversinging a single line of the clever lyrics.

This next song has a very appealing theme, loving yourself the way you want to be loved. The lyrics for Love Me might be a bit somber, but the music is energetic and so there’s also something hopeful about it. That is exactly what makes this song an interesting combination of different factors, this is such a good typical Katy song. It needs some time, but then I really dig this song.

After two darker songs, This Moment is the next midtempo song that has an interesting arrangement. With pop as the starting point, a piano, deep synths and bass are added to give it a more danceable twist. Just like Love Me, this song needed a little more time to really interest me for the full 100%, but then it really got to me and I could see the extremely catchy patterns in the song.

Double Rainbow brings out the Kelly Clarkson in Katy, and I can’t do anything else than just sit here and listen, completely mesmerized. It’s a lovely, breathy love song with that amazing echo quality I like so much in these kinds of songs. The song has very intimate moments, while the chorus has a little more power to it that just explodes right from the start. Everything stays perfectly simple and beautiful here, just what the album needed.

Please don’t let me cry, since By The Grace Of God deals directly with Katy’s depression after her divorce from Russell Brand. This song is about picking yourself up after a breakup, so yes, I feel it now. This is Katy at her most vulnerable, especially in the bridge when she sings in her head voice. The emotion just builds up at that moment, it’s choking me up completely. ‘I put one foot in front of the other and looked in the mirror and decided to stay // Wasn’t gonna let love take me out that way.’ I have found my all-time favorite Katy Perry song, period.

Moving into the album’s bonus tracks! Spiritual might be a bit of a religious track, especially for Katy, it’s filled with hope and joy. Even the music has a very angelic feel to it, keeping everything light and breezy. Katy’s vocals fit in perfectly, using her head voice in her typical crystal clear way. This is a perfect track after By The Grace Of God and perfect as a bonus track on the album.

It Takes Two has the perfect lyrics, very straightforward and I think anyone can relate to this. It’s like a toned down version of Roar when it comes to the music, very appealing and strong and unique in its own way despite the obvious comparisons. Katy’s vocals are top notch, the best part of the entire song. I can’t seem to think of more ways to praise this song, even if it’s just a bonus track!

Choose Your Battles closes the album with military drums to fit the title. At first I was afraid that it would sound like Christina Aguilera’s  ‘Cease Fire’, but when I come to think of it, that song sounded much stronger as a battle song than this one. Nothing against Katy ofcourse, she perfectly shows off angry and solid vocals against a tensive background music. When compared to all the other tracks I like this one the least, but still it is a very cool song!

Gee, Katy, ARE YOU KIDDING ME. This is probably the most perfect album of 2013, I never expected this to happen! I always love it when an artist discovers as many different genres as possible on an album, and Katy did just that. Power pop, techno, bhangra, grime, 90s and 80s, it’s all on Prism. I always thought Katy was stuck like glue to electropop songs, especially on her album ‘Teenage Dream’, but she blossomed and apparently decided to show more sides of herself (and that includes her vulnerable and most personal side too). This album shows where she stands in her life now and where she has been, the perfect compilation of what she really is about. Just like I did with Christina Aguilera’s ‘Lotus’ in 2012, I’m gonna put Katy’s ‘Prism‘ on repeat for the rest of the month, enough said ❤

Favorite tracks: Roar | Legendary Lovers | Birthday | Walking On Air | Unconditionally | Dark Horse (feat. Juicy J) | This Is How We Do | International Smile | Ghost | Love Me | This Moment | Double Rainbow | By The Grace Of God | Spiritual | It Takes Two

OVERALL RATING
starstarstarstarstar
5 stars

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AFTERSCHOOL – Heaven

November 12, 2013 at 1:15 PM | Posted in After School | Leave a comment

SINGLE REVIEW
AFTERSCHOOL – Heaven

1. Heaven
2. Crazy Driver
3. First Love
4. Heaven (Instrumental)
5. Crazy Driver (Instrumental)

Heaven is the fifth Japanese single by South Korean girl group AFTERSCHOOL, released on October 2, 2013. The single debuted at #6 on the Oricon Charts and has sold 19,884 copies to date.

Just like the cover already suggested, Heaven has a more oldschool kind of style when it comes to the music. The guitars playing in the background play around the bass to make it funky, and the girls emphasize deeper and sultry vocals this time. It makes me think of Bruno Mars’ ‘Treasure’ or the collab songs by Pharrell and Daft Punk, so these girls know how to stay up to date. Compared to their previous released, this is a much more mature effort. Love it!

Crazy Driver then brings in the dancepop music they have been releasing every now and then, including some very heavily autotuned vocals but that’s quite sassy anyway. This song brings out the Namie Amuro in all the girls when it comes to the vocals and the overall style of the music, it’s so different from the A-side. Again a very mature effort for the group, but there’s not a real highlight in the song that keeps me interested through the entire song. Still, good enough.

And ofcourse, there is the Korean single ‘Cheos Sarang’, or First Love. I totally love this song and its laid back, sultry R&B style. It’s just as oldschool as Heaven so they couldn’t have brought it back better than on this single. It needs a little switching as a listener to go from Japanese to Korean for this song, but once you get used to it after a couple of lines this is just one of the more perfect songs AFTERSCHOOL has ever released.

OVERALL RATING
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4 stars

Kalafina – Kimi no Gin no Niwa

November 12, 2013 at 12:51 PM | Posted in Kalafina | Leave a comment

SINGLE REVIEW
Kalafina – Kimi no Gin no Niwa

1. Kimi no Gin no Niwa
2. misterioso
3. Tsuioku
4. Kimi no Gin no Niwa -instrumental-

Kimi no Gin no Niwa is the fourteenth single by Japanese group Kalafina, released on November 6, 2013. The title track was used as the theme song for the third movie adaptation of the anime series Puella Magi Madoka☆Magica the Movie Part 3: Rebellion.

YES, finally a fun and vibrant folk song from Kalafina again! Kimi no Gin no Niwa is exactly what I’ve been waiting for for so long, and what I needed after all the ballads on ‘Alleluia’. I love the verses and how HIKARU takes the lead here, while WAKANA is very present in the rest of the song (something that doesn’t occur a lot on Kalafina’s A-sides). There’s so much speaking from this song, and I adore it from the very first note to the last. This is pure perfection, Kalafina style.

misterioso is probably the new ‘consolation’ because it has the very same energy, yet it’s being released in a completely new way. The song is fast paced with a lot of percussion and electric guitars, while still being on the breezy side with some flute elements. It’s the best of both worlds combined in one song, and for ‘just’ a B-side it’s so good I hope it returns on their next album!

Tsuioku is the second B-side (wow, what a treat this is) and what I thought would be a ballad is actually a dark and tensive song that brings along yet another side of the group. I love how everything just works in this song, from the deep and haunting cello solo to the amazing extended electric guitar solo in the bridge. I also adore the pattern of the percussion here, it sets the flow for the song perfectly. I’m totally into this.

OVERALL RATING
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5 stars

Kalafina – Alleluia

November 12, 2013 at 12:33 PM | Posted in Kalafina | Leave a comment

SINGLE REVIEW
Kalafina – Alleluia

1. Alleluia
2. dolce
3. seventh heaven ~2012 Christmas LIVE ver.~
4. snow falling ~2012 Christmas LIVE ver.~
5. fairytale ~2012 Christmas LIVE ver.~
6. Kimi ga Hikari ni Kaete Iku ~2012 Christmas LIVE ver.~

Alleluia is the thirteenth single by Japanese group Kalafina, released on October 2, 2013. The title track was used as the theme song of the anime, Kara no Kyoukai: Mirai Fukuin. The single reached #10 on the Oricon Charts and charted for 4 weeks.

Alleluia is not what I thought it would be, because it’s even better than that. I always thought Kalafina can handle both kickass songs and ballads, so what can be better than a combination of those two kinds of songs? KEIKO leads the song with her amazing deep vocals, building the tension before the light yet powerful chorus kicks in with WAKANA’s crystal clear vocals. Then the song really takes flight, and I can really imagine this song becoming one of my all-time favorite Kalafina songs.

Where Alleluia took the stage as the kickass A-side, dolce emphasizes the ethereal side. It’s both haunting and beautiful with the group singing in harmony to the sound of strings. If you like Kalafina’s laid back chanting songs, this is the stuff. If not, then just skip it.

This single was released in a regular version and an anime version, and both have two Christmas Live versions. The regular edition comes with seventh heaven ~2012 Christmas LIVE ver.~ and snow falling ~2012 Christmas LIVE ver.~. The girls are amazing live singers, and hearing them bring back an older song like ‘seventh heaven’ this way is superbe. ‘snow falling’ is a rather new song from ‘After Eden’ and I remember it as one of their most laid back ballads ever. Still, it’s a good song to perform live to really emphasize how these girls nail live performances.

The anime edition then has fairytale ~2012 Christmas LIVE ver.~ and Kimi ga Hikari ni Kaete Iku ~2012 Christmas LIVE ver.~, both from their first album ‘seventh heaven’. ‘fairytale’ is another ballad (damn this single is filled with ballads), and although it had to grow on me at first I adore it now, it’s too pretty to ignore. It’s pure magic, taken to the next level performed live. ‘Kimi ga Hikari ni Kaete Iku’ is a song that doesn’t stand out until the chorus comes along, but it’s another perfect live performance. Next time, please incorporate ‘love come down’ or something like that!

OVERALL RATING
starstarstarstarhalfstar
4½ stars

Kyarypamyupamyu – Mottai Night Land

November 12, 2013 at 11:21 AM | Posted in Kyarypamyupamyu | Leave a comment

SINGLE REVIEW
Kyarypamyupamyu – Mottai Night Land

1. Mottai Night Land
2. Sungoi Aura
3. Ninjari Ban Ban -extended mix-
4. Mottai Night Land -instrumental-
5. Sungoi Aura -instrumental-

Mottai Night Land is the seventh single by Japanese singer Kyarypamyupamyu, released on November 6, 2013. The title song was used as an au commercial song. The single debuted at #7 on the Oricon Charts.

Wow, a new era already, the Kyary train is moving fast. Mottai Night Land is a fast paced and very cute song that reminds me a bit of ‘Tsukema Tsukeru’, probably because of some of the melodies. Besides that, there’s nothing generic about this typical Kyary song with a lot of quirckiness. I loved that little piano part right after the first chorus and the sightly spookier touch that the second verse had. It’s not as good as many of the ‘Nanda Collection’ era singles, but it comes pretty close.

Ehhhrm, what the heck? I know Kyary makes really cute songs, but Sungoi Aura takes this to a whole new level. This song is even faster than Mottai Night Land, as crazy as that may seem, and there are even some little piccolo notes playing in the background. This makes everything sound like it’s a kiddy song, you know, one that can be found on a CD for toddlers. It’s funny, but well, it’s not my style.

As always, we conclude the single with an extended version of one of Kyary’s older singles. This time, it’s Ninjari Ban Ban -extended version-. For once, Nakata actually worked in a longer and waaaay better introduction that is more ‘club-worthy’. It evolves into the same old song we all know and, in my case, love. Ninjari Ban Ban will always be one of Kyary’s best singles because it just stands out from everything else.

OVERALL RATING
star
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3½ stars

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