Wednesday, October 30, 2013

~ Prism : Katy Perry ~ (Album Review)

Album Cover Art: Prism by Katy Perry
Listening to auto-tuned Katy Perry is, let’s face it, far more tolerable than hearing her sing live on stage. But you gotta give credit where it’s due. Perry is a hit-making machine with proven credibility. It’s no walking in the park writing a hit song let alone an album that contains more than a handful. That’s exactly what Katy Perry brings to the table with her fourth studio effort; an album full of potential radio-friendly hits. Of course, she receives more than a little help from a slew of today’s biggest hit-makers such as Dr. Luke, Stargate, Max Martin and Cirkut, to name a few. One could also imagine how much money gets involved in the building process of “Prism”.

Opening with her international #1 smash, a female empowerment anthem, “Roar”, “Prism” is packed with tracks that don’t even require a second listen to grow. You will be humming along by the time each and every chorus kicks in for the second time. She is that good.  She parties it up like it’s 1991 with Crystal Waters-esque “Walking On Air” while keeping it festive with Hip-hop flavored “Dark Horse” and Disco-tinged “Birthday”. The disc’s second single with a solid melody, “Unconditionally”, psychedelic “This Moment” and “Legendary Lovers”, a rousing record with an exotic appeal, are nothing but pure sugar, irresistible & infectious. 

Singing may not be her specialty but she handles the album’s mid-tempo ballads with dignity and devotion. Perry is aware of her range and therefore never pushes beyond. With “Spiritual” and “Double Rainbow”, (She cowrote the former with John Mayer and the latter, Sia Furler) she gets to showcase her serious songwriting skills, which by far is her strongest suit. The piano-led ballad “By The Grace Of God” and “It Takes Two” are two of the set’s most autobiographical and self-reflective moments. "Prism", in a nutshell is terrific. It’s upbeat, undemanding and ultramodern.

"Roar" ~ Katy Perry

"Unconditionally" ~ Katy Perry

~ A Mary Christmas : Mary J Blige ~ (Album Review)

The Album Cover Art : A Mary Christmas
For a diva, a Christmas album not only gives the golden opportunity to stretch her vocals by coming up with her very own renditions of familiar carols but also lets her collect a handsome pay-check, if of course she has a successful seasonal set like Mariah Carey’s that sells like hot cakes every Christmas. 

Mary J Blige has joined the club this year. But you won’t find the Rn’B diva trying to outsing her peers with drowsy jingles like “O Holy Night”. Nor has she delivered a hip-hop flavoured Christmas disc, which by the way, is a frightening thought. Instead, “A Mary Christmas”, conveniently titled, offers subdued, persuasive and respectful interpretations of classic holiday tunes. The maestro David Foster who Blige collaborates with on this set and for the first time in her long career helps provide the album with a timeless, traditional touch. (“My Favourite Things”, “This Christmas” and “Mary Did You Know” are poignant, classy and thankfully not over-done) 

Blige shows off her French on the elegant “Petit Papa Noel” while channeling Ella Fitzgerald on “Rudolph, The Red-Nosed Reindeer”, a jubilant update of a beloved tune. More Jazzy moments follow with “The Christmas Song” and “When You Wish Upon A Star”, an odd pairing of Barbra Streisand and Blige, which surprisingly, results in a Disney-sweet moment that will certainly please fans of both. Angelic voice of Marc Anthony almost outshines Blige’s understated singing on ”Noche De Paz (Silent Night). Expect punchy vocals from both Blige and her duet partner, Jessie J, which makes the dullish orchestration of “Do You Hear What I hear” somewhat bearable. 

Blige’s gritty vocals, her usual street cred and swagger are put away on this project. As a matter of fact, she sounds so polished and regal, showcasing a definitely different side. This easy-listening set will ensure commercial success for years to come for its simplicity and timeless feel while effectively finding her new Adult Contemporary fan base.

"When You Wish Upon A Star" ~ Mary J Blige & Barbra Streisand 

"Do You Hear What I Hear" ~ Mary J Blige & Jessie J

"Noche De Paz (Silent Night) ~ Mary J Blige & Marc Anthony