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Topic: Taylor Swift
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October 21, 2013 at 3:04 PM
Katy Perry, ‘Prism’ (Virgin EMI)
Effervescent pop queen Katy Perry’s last album, “Teenage Dream” (2010), was a runaway hit, generating five No. 1 singles and placing her giddy singing career on terra firma.
Perry’s fourth studio album, “Prism,” will likely be another big winner. “Roar,” a song of empowerment that references her painful, text-message breakup and subsequent divorce from comedian Russell Brand, kicks off a 16-song collection loaded with powerful ballads and infectious pop-rockers — as well as plenty of dark details about the ups-and-downs of her life over the last several years.
Indeed, “Prism” is the party girl’s most reflective and soul-searching album, one that examines life and love through the eyes of someone who is (finally, at 28) growing emotionally and intellectually, though maybe not by leaps and bounds. “By the Grace of God” is a particularly heart-rending song about her emotional crash-and-burn.
But this doesn’t mean Perry has chucked her dancing shoes and stopped kissing girls. She’s her funky, sexy, bouncy old self in the balloon-filled “Birthday.” And she parties pretty hard in “This Is How We Do,” in which ladies appear at breakfast “in last night’s dress.”
“Unconditionally” is a soaring ballad about unrestrained devotion: “All your insecurities/ All the dirty laundry/ Never made me blink one time,” she sings. “Legendary Lovers” curiously ventures into new age territory with ethereal lyrics, Asian strings and infectious hooks. “Dark Horse,” by contrast, is vengeful and macabre, with rapper Juicy J delivering a warning: “She’s a beast/ I call her Karma/ She eat your heart out/ Like Jeffrey Dahmer.”
On “Prism,” Perry worked with producers Max Martin (hit maker for Perry, Kelly Clarkson, Britney Spears, Pink and many others), Dr. Luke (Rihanna and Kelly Clarkson) and Cirkut (Taylor Swift and Spears). Collectively, they are the team that makes this album rock.
September 1, 2013 at 12:08 PM
As her closing song “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” hit its climax, at the sold-out Tacoma Dome Saturday night, Taylor Swift stood smiling at 20,000 fans, drinking in their adoration.
The imagery was perfect. Swift, dressed as a circus ringleader, had expertly presided over the nearly two-hour marathon of fireworks, dance routines and even a flight over the crowd on a floating platform. The fans, many of them teens accompanied by parents, seemed to swim in a sea of light-up signs and glow sticks as their cheers reached a thunderous crescendo while Swift disappeared into the stage floor to end the show.
Swift, who has earned appeal across a broad swath of the mainstream after starting out as a country star, is using the “Red Tour” to redefine her image as a once-in-a-generation pop megastar. The dancing, inspirational big-sister onstage banter and yes, even the singing, was handled with a veteran deftness.
Don’t be mistaken, Swift was having fun up there, but there was killer instinct in her eyes that was hard to miss. As she reminded the crowd more than once, playing in front of adoring fans is a lifelong dream. But it’s also hard work and Swift has turned into quite the pro.
She touched on early every song from her quadruple-platinum album, “Red,” including the show opener “State of Grace,” the title track and her foray into the world of dubstep, the monster hit “I Knew You Were Trouble.” She also brought opener Ed Sheeran out for “Everything Has Changed,” which he co-wrote. Swift played some older songs, too, including “Love Story” and a soul version of “You Belong With Me,” both from her 2008 album “Fearless.” They sounded good but seemed at odds with the dance-pop stylings of “Red.”
Most songs featured a costume change and an impressive stage set, which wasn’t too surprising. Far more so was Swift’s excellent vocal command. For a star known for writing all of her own material but not her singing chops, the fact she had little trouble replicating those hits live was a welcome treat.
Swift says she writes about what she knows, which is why all of her albums thus far have been about love. Her next one might well be about what it’s like to take over the world.
-Owen R. Smith, on Twitter @inanedetails
August 29, 2013 at 3:27 PM
During one of her four shows in Los Angeles last week, Taylor Swift brought out the hip Canadian duo of sisters Tegan and Sara for an arena-sized version of the twins’ electropop hit “Closer.”
It was a fan-pleasing, veteran move that says all you need to know about Swift’s place in the pop-music landscape. Far from the teenage country tartlet she started out as, Swift, now 23, occupies the upper echelon of superstardom, and her music and image define mainstream appeal. (more…)
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