Author Topic: My detailed review of "Prism"  (Read 349 times)

Offline mitsguy2001

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My detailed review of "Prism"
« on: August 06, 2014, 12:13:23 AM »
I decided to post a review below of "Prism", mostly intended for people unfamiliar with the album (posting it in this forum so that people who aren't members and do a google search can find it).  I'd also be curious to hear what people here think of my review.

I have been a fan of Katy Perry since 2009 when I first heard "Hot n Cold."  I became a bigger fan of hers a year later when she released "Teenage Dream."  As I have posted about before, the title track of that album has special significance to me, and has helped me feel a personal connection to Katy.  I also really enjoyed the other singles from that album, especially "Firework."  I gained even more admiration for Katy in 2012 when I saw the "Part of Me" movie, and learned much more about her past and present personal life.  After seeing the movie, I correctly predicted that with her next album, she would move in a more mature, adult contemporary direction.  An early hint of that direction were the 2 new hit singles from "Teenage Dream: The Complete Confection": "Part of Me" and "Wide Awake".  These two singles showcase both her tough side ("Part of Me") and her vulnerability ("Wide Awake").  In fact, both of those songs would have fit in very well with the "Prism" album.  Two major themes in "Prism" are inspiration / empowerment ("Part of Me") and introspection ("Wide Awake").  In fact, Katy seems to have been thinking the same way as me.  The first act of her "Prismatic World Tour" was titled, appropriately, "Prismatic", and included both "Part of Me" and "Wide Awake", along with 3 inspirational songs from "Prism".

The biggest strength of "Prism" is the diversity of the album.  It includes many fun dance songs, along with several introspective ballads.  It includes throwback songs ranging from the 70s to the 90s.  It contains several inspirational songs, as previously mentioned.  It includes a few Christian-influenced songs, and even a song with a unique Indian arrangement.  If you are under the impression that all of Katy Perry's songs sound the same (which is not even remotely true), this should be a pleasant surprise.  This album should contain something for everybody.  If you don't like one song on the album, give another one a try; you should be able to find something that you like.  The album is best suited for people who enjoy a diversity of musical styles and eras.

When Katy Perry first began talking about this album, it was widely reported that it would be a "darker" album.  However, it did not turn out that way, and the album was entitled "Prism" because it lets the light in.  This album is definitely not a dark / angry album.  If that is what you were expecting, this is not the album for you.  On the other hand, if early reports of "Prism" being a dark / angry album turned you off, you should give the album a chance.

"Prism", combined with Katy's previous albums, shows off the versatility of Katy's voice.  She is clearly capable of singing in many different styles.  Katy's voice has a very soft and pleasant quality, combined with a lot of power and a lot of range.  Katy uses those qualities very well in this album.  To my ears, I find Katy's voice to be very soothing when I am stressed, regardless of the song.  I find that I can even listen to her songs just to appreciate the pleasant sound of her voice.

"Prism" is available in 2 versions.  The standard edition contains 13 songs.  The deluxe edition contains the same 13 songs, plus 3 bonus tracks, for a total of 16 songs.  I definitely recommend the deluxe version.  The 3 bonus tracks are all very soft but with catchy arrangements, which suit Katy's voice very well, and is a combination that works very well for her.  These 3 songs also all have very positive messages, and to me, "Prism" is not complete without them.

If I had to have one complaint about "Prism", it would be the order of the songs on the album.  The first half of the album is mostly fun dance songs, and the second half is mostly introspective ballads.  I would have preferred to see it mixed up a little more.  The one exception is the very beautiful power ballad "Unconditionally", which appears early in the album (Track #5).  It could be seen as too many dance songs in a row, and too many ballads in a row, which in both cases can somewhat detract from the individual songs.  In my opinion, the two best ballads are "Unconditionally" (which, as I said, appears early in the album) and the extremely personal and powerful "By the Grace of God", which is Track #13 (the last song on the standard edition), which can give a somewhat bland feel to much of the second half of the album.  And, given the short attention span that most people have these days, by the time one gets to the ballads in the second half of the album, it's easy for one to have lost interest.  Just a minor complaint.  You can always listen to the album on shuffle, or play the songs in whatever order you want (maybe try listening to the happy track "Birthday" immediately after the more somber "By the Grace of God").

Now, for a track by track review of the album.

1. Roar: This inspirational, empowerment anthem starts the album off on a good note, and sets the tone for the rest of the album!  This is a song that encourages people to stand up for themselves, and to not give in to bullies.  Although the media frequently describes this song as a female empowerment anthem, Katy Perry herself has said that this song is intended for both genders.  There is no gender-specific language in the song.  At the "Prismatic World Tour", a video shown before the concert showed children of both genders.  In any case, this is a message that both genders need to hear.  These empowerment anthems (such as Roar, Firework, and Part of Me) are a definite strength of Katy's, and are an excellent use of her voice.  Katy's voice is powerful enough that these songs come across serious and sincere, but her voice is also soft enough that they don't come across as angry.

2. Legendary Lovers: This is another excellent, and very unique song!  This song has a very unique Indian arrangement, and is not like anything else currently being released.  I mostly enjoy this song for its aesthetic quality: the Indian arrangement, Katy's voice, and the imagery in the bridge "Take me down to the river, underneath the blood orange sun . . ." which puts a beautiful and romantic image in my mind.  The rapid fire verses also make this song a lot of fun, and I'm amazed at how clear Katy's voice is in those verses.  I am honestly not sure what the intended interpretation of this song is.  Various sources have various sexual or religious interpretations, or some combination of the two.  Part of me (no pun intended) wants Katy to explain her intended interpretation of the song, while part of me wants her to leave it open-ended so that I can just appreciate the aesthetic quality of this song.  I really hope that Katy decides to release this song as a single so that it reaches a wider audience, who will hopefully appreciate its uniqueness.

3. Birthday: This is a very fun 70s disco throwback song!  The arrangement is sure to please anyone who grew up during that era, or anyone else who can appreciate music from various eras.  This is probably the most risqué song on the album, although it is quite mild compared to what other artists are producing those days, and even compared to songs on Katy's previous albums.  The lyrics are sort of a double entendre that can be interpreted about a birthday party.  The only somewhat explicit line in the song is "let me get you in your birthday suit".  Everything else is quite time, since any sexual interpretations would go over a kid's head, who, as I said, would interpret the song as being about a birthday party.  One other thing that I really like about the song is that I find it quite touching that Katy sounds so happy in this song after a difficult time in her life.

4. Walking on Air: This song continues the multi-decade dance party theme, and is a 90s throwback dance song!  I was born in 1979, so I was a teenager during the 90s, so this style of song brings back a lot of memories!  I suspect that this song would be primarily of interest to people from my age group, but anybody who can appreciate music from other eras should enjoy this one!  Like other songs on this album, various sources have various sexual and/or religious interpretations of this song.  Honestly, I do not think that this song has any deep meaning (neither sexual nor religious), and it's just intended to be a fun, feel-good dance song.  Just picture all of your problems and stress melting away when you hear this song.  Vocally, Katy shows a lot of range in this song.  There is also a gospel choir near the end of the song, which adds to the vaguely religious imagery in the song, but again, I wouldn't look too deeply into it.

5. Unconditionally: This is one of the best songs on the album, and Katy herself has said that this is her favorite song on the album!  This is a very beautiful power ballad which shows off Katy's vocal abilities, perhaps more so than any other song that she has ever released.  As I said earlier, Katy's voice has a very soft and beautiful quality, combined with a lot of power, and this song shows off both of those abilities, and is probably how her voice is best used.  The lyrics are a very good message about accepting and loving somebody unconditionally, despite their flaws.  Another thing that makes this song so great is the universality of the message, how it can be interpreted about being about any type of love (love within a marriage, love between a parent and child, love between a person and God, love between Katy and her fans, etc.), which should help just about anybody relate to the message, regardless of where they are in life.  I also like to think of this song as a more mature sequel to "Teenage Dream", since they both deal with unconditional love and acceptance.  I find that listening to "Teenage Dream" immediately followed by "Unconditionally" to be a very powerful experience.  The only "negative" to this song, if you want to call it that, is that after hearing this and "By the Grace of God", you are spoiled for any of the other ballads on the album!

6. Dark Horse: This is a very unique song, which includes hip hop influences.  It contains a verse by rapper Juicy J.  I'm not a fan of rap, but in this song, the rap verse works well.  This song is very different from what you would typically expect from Katy Perry, but it somehow works, and it does work very well for her voice, for something different.  Various sources have some truly bizarre interpretations of this song.  In my opinion, the song is about commitment within a relationship, and is a great example of a fun song with a positive message.  The term "dark horse" refers to an unexpected winner, so perhaps the song is referring to falling for someone unexpectedly and being in a serious relationship with that person, although there are no lyrics to suggest that.

7. This is How We Do: This is probably the weakest song on the album.  There is nothing wrong with the song: it's a clean, harmless, feel-good party song, and it is a good song to listen to when stressed out.  However, there is nothing uniquely "Katy" about the song; it could have been sung by anybody.  Nor is it anything that Katy hasn't done before.  The shout outs near the end of the song are fun, although the shout out the people who are "buying bottle service with their rent money" really is not funny.  One line that I wonder about is, when she has the shout out to those "going to bed with a 10 and waking up with a 2" and Katy says "not me", is she trying to say that the guy she was with at the time is always a 10?  Or was she trying to say that she would never be in a position where she would do drunk pre-marital sex?  The line could go either way.  The "bring the beat back" ending is clever.

8. International Smile: This is another one of the fun songs on the album.  The lyrics are based on a smile being a symbol with the same meaning internationally, and is definitely something meaningful to Katy, given how her career has taken her around the world.  Not much more to say about this song; it's just a fun, feel-good song.

(Continued in Next Post)



Offline mitsguy2001

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Re: My detailed review of "Prism"
« Reply #1 on: August 06, 2014, 12:13:52 AM »
(Continued from previous post)

9. Ghost: This starts the second half of the album, which contains many underrated songs that are often dismissed as being bland (Katy doesn't even include this song in her concert).  If you listen to the lyrics, these are actually very powerful and emotional songs.  While these songs don't quite show off the power of Katy's voice as much as "Unconditionally", Katy's voice is very beautiful to listen to in these songs.  "Ghost" is about how you promise to be with somebody forever, and then one day, they send you a text message, and they are gone forever.  Many media sources say that this song is about Russell Brand.  Katy herself has said this song is not about Russell Brand.  But it seems that it was clearly influenced by him.  I also see this song as a warning to people about how very personal communication (in this case, the breakup of a serious relationship) should be done face to face, and not through impersonal means such as texting.  It's too bad that the song's powerful message won't reach most people: Katy doesn't perform the song at her concerts, this song is unlikely to be released as a single, many people find the arrangement to be bland, and people with short attention spans (ironically, the people who probably need this song's message the most) will likely lose interest before reaching this song if they listen to the album in order.  I suggest starting with this song (or any others in the second half), and just listen very closely to the lyrics.  Not every song has to be about catchy arrangements or proving your vocal power and range.

10. Love Me: This is another underrated mid-tempo ballad with powerful lyrics and a somewhat bland arrangement.  The lyrics are about needing to love yourself for who you are, before you can be in love with another person.  This song is often described as being a more bland version of "Firework", but, to me, it has a distinct message.  I see "Love Me" as being more about being who you are on the inside, and not changing your image to suit your love interests.  I also see another meaning in this song which I have not seen mentioned anywhere else: perhaps about how Katy wishes that she didn't hide her true persona in order to be more popular with fans.  Specifically, when I saw the "Part of Me" movie in 2012, I had the feeling that Katy was never comfortable with her candy queen image.  I (correctly) suspected after seeing the movie that she wanted to shed that image and be more true to herself, and move in a more mature, adult contemporary direction.  Katy does perform this song at her concerts, and I did gain a new appreciation for this song after looking directly at Katy and listening closely to the lyrics of the song, coming directly from her mouth.  Again, this song does not necessarily have a catchy arrangement, and does not necessarily showcase the full power of Katy's voice.  But again, not every song has to be.  This song is all about its lyrics, and Katy's voice is beautiful, as always.

11. This Moment: This is another underrated mid-tempo ballad which some people find is bland.  The arrangement, in my opinion, is catchier than the arrangement of the past 2 songs (it has somewhat of an 80s feel), and Katy's voice does show more power than he past 2 songs.  Like the past 2 songs, this is another song with powerful lyrics that you need to listen to closely.  This song is all about living in the present.  You can't change the past, and you don't know what the future holds.  This is another song which I found I appreciated more after hearing it live-again, looking directly at Katy and listening closely to the lyrics coming directly from her mouth.  One thing that I do wonder about is, the chorus contains the line "So why don't you be here with me?"  Who is the "you" that she is addressing?  Is she addressing a love interest?  Is she addressing the listener?  Is she addressing God?  I don't know.

12. Double Rainbow: This is a very beautiful love song.  It is about how finding true love is rare and happens only once in a lifetime, and she compares it to the rarity of seeing a double rainbow.  Surprisingly, this song was not included at Katy's concert.  Ellen DeGeneres said, when Katy was a guest on her show, that this is her favorite song from "Prism", so I had thought that it was a popular song from the album.  Perhaps Katy didn't sing it at the concert since, sadly, she still have not found that once in a lifetime true love, which the song talks about how hard it is to find.  This is one of many beautiful vocal performances on the album, and the lyrics are very touching.  However, this song (and the 3 previous) are somewhat overshadowed by the next song.

13. By the Grace of God: This is one of the best songs on the album!  It is definitely the most personal and most emotional song on the album.  This song is a very soft ballad about how Katy's faith in God saved her life by helping her decide to stay, and to not commit suicide.  This song is both a very powerful message and a very beautiful vocal performance.  I have a lot of admiration for Katy's bravery for allowing herself to be so vulnerable to release this song.  You can definitely hear a lot of emotion in this song, especially in live performances.  I really hope that this song is either released as a single, or is somehow included in a public service announcement or in a movie, since it is a message that needs to reach as many people as possible.  The message in the song is both about the importance of faith in God, as well as about how life is worth living, even on your worst days.  Many people describe this song as "sad" or "depressing".  Honestly, people who describe the song that way are missing the point of the song.  The purpose of this song is not to make the listener sad, and not to make the listener feel sorry for Katy.  The purpose, again, is to send the message that Katy's faith in God saved her life and helped her realize that life is worth living.  I find this song to be very uplifting and inspirational, especially when dealing with challenges in life.  Another very touching line in the song is when Katy thanks her sister.  This highlights the importance of close connections with family members, and also reminds us that God does not expect us to get through life alone.  This song also reminds me of another very powerful song that Katy wrote during another low point in her life: "Lost", from the album "One of the Boys".  Many fans (especially ones who are only familiar with Katy's singles and/or discovered Katy during the "Teenage Dream" era) may not be aware of this song, so I definitely recommend checking it out.  "Lost" is another very soft ballad, and includes the unanswered question "If I pray am i just sending words into outer space?"  That question is unanswered, since, at the time, Katy did not know how her life would turn out.  Try listening to "Lost" followed by "By The Grace of God".  I like to think of "By the Grace of God" as finally answering that unanswered question from "Lost".

14. Spiritual: This is the first of 3 bonus tracks, and one of the reasons why I recommend the deluxe edition of the album.  This song is very soft but with a very catchy arrangement, which is a combination that works well with Katy's voice.  I also find the arrangement and Katy's voice to be especially soothing in this song.  The lyrics are also seemingly very deep, and I am honestly not sure what the intended meaning is.  Various sources have various religious and/or sexual interpretations of this song, sometimes both.  The lyrics include the line "I have prayed for a higher power like you to see deep down in my soul", which imply that this song is referring to God, but there are other lyrics that seem more as if Katy is singing about a person that she feels an especially deep connection with.  I do not personally see anything sexual about this song, and interpretations as a religious song seem more likely.  In a way, this song reminds me of "Legendary Lovers" in that it has seemingly deep lyrics that can be interpreted different ways, and is aesthetically a very beautiful song to listen to, and it paints a very beautiful picture in your mind.  Also, like "Legendary Lovers", part of me (again, no pun intended) would like to hear Katy's official interpretation of the song, but part of me likes to enjoy the aesthetic beauty of this song and doesn't want it to be ruined by a strange interpretation.  It is also interesting that John Mayer is listed as a co-writer of this song, but it is not known how much of a role he had in writing it, nor is it clear whether or not he has any connection to the song.

15. It Takes Two: This is another great bonus track which has a very important message.  Any time there is a conflict, it takes two people to cause the conflict.  There are two sides to every story, and Katy admits that any conflict is partially her fault and that she is not completely innocent.  This is a very good song to listen to when you are having a conflict with someone, and it can help you to be humble enough to admit that you are wrong, and to listen to the other side of the story.  Musically, this is another song that combines soft vocals with a catchy arrangement, which again, is a combination that works well with Katy's voice.  It has somewhat of a 90s throwback arrangement, and sounds like something that Celine Dion could have sang back then.  I wish that this song was on the standard edition of "Prism" so that its message would reach more people.  However, I was very pleasantly surprised that Katy included this song in her "Prismatic World Tour" concert, during the "Throwback" section (especially surprising given that 2 songs from the standard edition of "Prism" were not included).

16. Choose Your Battles: This is the last song on the deluxe version of the album.  It is another song with a good message, and is an excellent counterpoint to "Roar", the first song on the album.  While "Roar" encourages the listener to stand up for himself or herself, "Choose Your Battles" encourages the listener to know when to fight and when to fold.  This is one of the most important lessons in life.  This song also has an important lesson that often times, the person you are fighting (especially in a romantic relationship, the example given in the song) is really on the same side as you, and once you realize that, you learn to work together not against each other.  The chorus of this song includes the line "Choose your battles babe, then you'll win the war", and the song has a triumphant sounding arrangement.

Offline TheMouse

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Re: My detailed review of "Prism"
« Reply #2 on: August 06, 2014, 09:00:30 AM »
Thanks, I enjoyed reading this! Of course, you're very biased, but so are the fans in general including me, and it makes it more interesting to read that you appreciate everything in the first place and look at the details from that point of view - reviews of anything about Katy are usually done in a predictable and reiterated way, with their outcome being that the author simply doesn't care about her and know almost nothing about her, so that I normally don't bother reading them anymore.
Honestly, I always thought WOA is not only about sexual activity but even about its climax, and I still do. I'm also sure that Katy with 'not me' just means she doesn't chose her partners for that same thing too badly, but it's a joke not referring to anything personal. Perhaps, it should have been mentioned that International Smile was very much inspired by her close friendship with Mia Moretti, according to her own words.
If people come across this through google it will make a nice change for them!


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Offline mitsguy2001

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Re: My detailed review of "Prism"
« Reply #3 on: August 06, 2014, 11:12:07 AM »
Thanks, I enjoyed reading this! Of course, you're very biased, but so are the fans in general including me, and it makes it more interesting to read that you appreciate everything in the first place and look at the details from that point of view - reviews of anything about Katy are usually done in a predictable and reiterated way, with their outcome being that the author simply doesn't care about her and know almost nothing about her, so that I normally don't bother reading them anymore.
Honestly, I always thought WOA is not only about sexual activity but even about its climax, and I still do. I'm also sure that Katy with 'not me' just means she doesn't chose her partners for that same thing too badly, but it's a joke not referring to anything personal. Perhaps, it should have been mentioned that International Smile was very much inspired by her close friendship with Mia Moretti, according to her own words.
If people come across this through google it will make a nice change for them!

Thank you.  I am glad that you enjoyed the review.  Reading most reviews of Katy's albums are a frustrating experience, since it often seems as if the reviewer never even listened to the album, yet they try to critique it.  That is why I wrote this review, so that it is from the point of view of somebody who has actually listened to the album.  Do you know of any sites where I can post it so that it would reach more people?  I don't know how many people would find it here.

Your interpretation of Walking on Air could be correct.  My point was that I don't know what the intended meaning is, and I do not know whether or not Katy has ever spoken about it.  She did sing it at her concert at Lakewood High School.  I could be wrong, but I thought that I heard Katy say somewhere that "Birthday" was the only sexual song on the album, but I could have imagined that.

I knew about "International Smile" being about Mia Moretti, but I didn't mention it for some reason.  Maybe I'll update my review to mention that.

Thanks again.

Offline TheMouse

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Re: My detailed review of "Prism"
« Reply #4 on: August 06, 2014, 11:37:32 AM »
Sites don't come to the surface of my mind straight away for now, but sometimes I google something and the second or third search result seems a familiar quote and then I find out it's a comment I made somewhere sometime. It's just luck really, but perhaps I find something later - yes, songs are not always what I think, if Katy said it was the only one like that I trust she must have a good idea about it, haha! - I even get the impression apart from the album, people even criticise the PWT live show without having been to one; all this is what makes your post enjoyable, instead of reading that kind of thing.


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Offline mitsguy2001

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Re: My detailed review of "Prism"
« Reply #5 on: August 06, 2014, 11:42:14 AM »
Sites don't come to the surface of my mind straight away for now, but sometimes I google something and the second or third search result seems a familiar quote and then I find out it's a comment I made somewhere sometime. It's just luck really, but perhaps I find something later - yes, songs are not always what I think, if Katy said it was the only one like that I trust she must have a good idea about it, haha! - I even get the impression apart from the album, people even criticise the PWT live show without having been to one; all this is what makes your post enjoyable, instead of reading that kind of thing.

Thanks again.  Did you read my review of the PWT?

Offline TheMouse

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Re: My detailed review of "Prism"
« Reply #6 on: August 06, 2014, 12:59:48 PM »
Not yet, I'll look for it, but now I'll be out for a while. I'm going to sing Firework tonight, apart from stuff by George Gershwin and Selena Gomez, and I'm a nervous wreck just now  :-\  :lol:


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Offline mitsguy2001

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Re: My detailed review of "Prism"
« Reply #7 on: August 06, 2014, 04:17:28 PM »
Not yet, I'll look for it, but now I'll be out for a while. I'm going to sing Firework tonight, apart from stuff by George Gershwin and Selena Gomez, and I'm a nervous wreck just now  :-\  :lol:

Good luck tonight.  Hope it goes well.

My concert review is hard to find since it was moved to a very long thread:
http://katyperryforum.com/index.php?topic=16197.150

It is Post #158, which is on Page 11.

Offline Olivia

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Re: My detailed review of "Prism"
« Reply #8 on: August 06, 2014, 04:35:43 PM »
Aw ! Look at you 2 kissing and making up ! ;) :kittypurry:

And your review of the concert was merged with the other thread, because it would be a mess if everyone just posted a new thread for each show they've been to... All the reviews are in the same thread !

Offline steviep24

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Re: My detailed review of "Prism"
« Reply #9 on: August 06, 2014, 06:30:04 PM »
Enjoyed reading your review and I agree with just about all of it. Prism is one of the best albums I've heard by any artist and there's not one bad track on there. TIHWD is probably the weakest song on there but is still a good song and a lot of fun to listen to. To me the best song on there is Unconditionally and like you always said on the forum it should have been a number one but due to the timing of its release and also because of Dark Horse it couldn't reach it's full potential.

I also agree with you that the order of the songs should have been mixed up more.
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Offline mitsguy2001

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Re: My detailed review of "Prism"
« Reply #10 on: August 06, 2014, 09:39:50 PM »
Aw ! Look at you 2 kissing and making up ! ;) :kittypurry:

And your review of the concert was merged with the other thread, because it would be a mess if everyone just posted a new thread for each show they've been to... All the reviews are in the same thread !


That's fine, I was just letting TheMouse know where he can find that review.

Offline mitsguy2001

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Re: My detailed review of "Prism"
« Reply #11 on: August 06, 2014, 09:41:19 PM »
Enjoyed reading your review and I agree with just about all of it. Prism is one of the best albums I've heard by any artist and there's not one bad track on there. TIHWD is probably the weakest song on there but is still a good song and a lot of fun to listen to. To me the best song on there is Unconditionally and like you always said on the forum it should have been a number one but due to the timing of its release and also because of Dark Horse it couldn't reach it's full potential.

Which is really, really frustrating, since it means most people will never know how great a singer Katy is.  :(

Offline DillNewt24

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Re: My detailed review of "Prism"
« Reply #12 on: August 07, 2014, 06:51:23 PM »
Great review, I loved how you went into great detail about all the songs. Prism is one those albums that has so much variety and meaning in it that everyone is going to have their own interpretations and opinions about the songs, which is great and is why I love Prism. All the songs are great and have meaning to them, I agree TIHWD may be the weakest song on the album but its a really fun and catchy song still. I wish Unconditionally could have done better but as you guys said with the release of Dark Horse, just the timing of it's release,it couldn't reach its full potential, which was disappointing.
« Last Edit: August 07, 2014, 06:52:57 PM by DillNewt24 »


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