<p>Katy Perry's &quot;Prism&quot;</p>

Katy Perry's "Prism"

Credit: Capitol Records

Katy Perry's 'Prism' reflects her heart and soul set to a beat: Review

HitFix
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Her fourth album reveals a new dimension

Katy Perry’s fourth studio album, “Prism,” finds her recovering from her divorce from Russell Brand and headed straight into love again... this time with John Mayer and, hopefully, with better results.

“Prism,” out Tuesday (22), is filled with lessons learned and self affirmations, and part of the fun is voyeuristically listening to tracks and knowing they’re about Brand or Mayer. The pop priestess lays herself bare on a number of these tunes including the confessional “By the Grace of God” and jubilantly romantic “Double Rainbow.”

Working with a range of producers from Dr. Luke to Stargate, Cirkut, Benny Blanco and Klas Ahlund, Perry pushes herself melodically here, with many of the songs seemingly influenced by the ‘80s and ‘90s. Tempos shift, synths weave in and out, and her voice rides the musical tide, often soaring on “Unconditionally” and “Double Rainbow.”

Just an any Perry album is a bit of a deep dive into her diary (she just doesn’t catch as much flack for it as Taylor Swift does... ), her sets are also a chance to cut loose, forget your cares and hit the dance floor. All your boogie needs are met as well with the playful “Walking on Air” and “International Smile.”

At this point into her career, Perry should be stretching herself a little more than she does, especially lyrically. Some of her phrases are often sound like a school girl’s, but it’s a small quibble when she admirably remains willing to reveal her soul.

Here's our track-by-track review of "Prism."

Roar:  Perry asserts that she is back and she is better than ever on this feisty first single from “Prism.” The steady stomp keeps the former No. 1 track  grounded, while much of the rest of hand clap and mid-tempo piano production sound straight out of the late ‘80s and early ‘90s. In fact, if you’re old enough it may remind you a little bit of the chorus of  Martika’s “Toy Soldiers” crossed with M.I.A.’s “Paper Planes,” with some Avril Lavigne thrown in for good measure. GRADE: B+

“Legendary Lovers”: Set against a middle-eastern beat, Perry’s words rush out in a torrent as she declares her intent to be part of a pair of lovers who are legendary in their ardor. The song shifts tempos and styles throughout. More intriguing than catchy. “Legendary Lovers” is “Prism’s” “E.T.” GRADE: B-

“Birthday”: Perry gets her Prince on in this delectable pop confection. Bouncy and fun as it gets, with a winking, sexy nod to bringing out the “birthday balloons.” GRADE: B+

“Walking On Air”: Perry enlisted the air of Swedish producer, Klas Ahlund, best known for his work with former Perry tour mate, Robyn, for this ‘90s-inspired fluffy house twirler. The juxtaposition of Perry’s airy vocals with her big-voiced, Martha Wash-like collaborator are heavenly. GRADE: A

“Unconditionally”: A big mid-tempo power ballad, propelled by Dr. Luke and Cirkut’s wide-open synth and percussion production. The title is a bit of a mouthful for Perry to get around over and over, but the theme of unconditional love resonates in part because of her convincing delivery. Is this song, the second single from the set, about John Mayer? We say yes. GRADE: B

“Dark Horse” featuring Juicy J: It’s not as out there (literally and figuratively) as “E.T.,” but it’s definitely not Perry’s standard pop, though with its finger snaps and pulsating, hypnotic beat, it will certainly fit in at radio. Juicy J’s rap —outside of regrettable line “She cuts your heart out like Jeffrey Dahmer”—fits in smoothly, though makes the cut sound a little dated. GRADE: B

“This Is How We Do”:
It’s hard not to raise your arm in the air and wave it back and forth in this old-school sounding track about partying. Perry name drops Mariah Carey and Backstreet Boys in a song that would border on Ke$ha-like novelty if it weren’t for the more infectious beat. Unlike anything else Perry has recorded before. Could be a sleeper hit. Klas Ahlund is also behind this partially spoken track.  GRADE: C

“International Smile”: A musical cousin to “California Gurls,” this ode to a girl who is making the most of the mile high club as she traverses the globe is a bit of a jumbled mess, though it will make a cute video, and the upbeat track could make a strong live set piece. GRADE: C

“Ghost”: “You sent a text, it’s like the wind changed your mind,” Perry sings in the opening line of this touching mid-tempo tune about her split with Russell Brand. “My vision’s 20/20/I see through you now,” she sings without a trace of vitriol, except when she delivers the line, “So rest in peace/I’ll see you on the other side.” Last album’s “E.T.” is this album’s “Ghost.”  GRADE: B+

“Love Me”: Hushed synth droplets open the track as Perry sings about getting lost in someone else (possibly about Brand but more likely about Mayer from the first go-round) before turning the song into a self-love anthem (no, not that kind silly!) about how “I have to love myself the way I want you to love me.” A vulnerable, stripped-down song, despite a few awkward turns of phrase. Nice production by Swedish producer/songwriter Bloodshy. GRADE: B

“The Moment”: A treacly mid-tempo tune about how all we have is this moment, “so why don’t you be here with me.” The melody doesn’t really suit Perry’s range and the lyrics are straight out of a bad Hallmark card. However, if you are a high school girl looking for a prom theme song, here you go. GRADE: C-

“Double Rainbow”: She’s learning to love again in this sweet love letter to John Mayer, produced by Greg Kurstin and co-written by Sia. “When I found you, it was all pitter-patter,” she sings. Great raw, emotional vocal delivery by Perry here. Big drums come in giving it an ‘80s feel. Unabashedly uncynical. GRADE: B

“By The Grace of God”: Gut-level honest ballad about her divorce and how she  felt it was all her fault until she realized in some ways, it had nothing to do with her, and that she made the decision to go on: “I put one foot in front of the other and looked in the mirror and decided to stay. I wasn’t going to let love take me out that way.” On the piano/synth track with ‘90s production, she thanks those who helped her through, like her sister. This is autobiographical as it gets. More appealing for her honesty than for the melody.  GRADE: B

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<p>Justin Bieber's 'Hold Tight'</p>

Justin Bieber's 'Hold Tight'

Justin Bieber's new sexy jam, 'Hold Tight': Listen

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Those are some powerful kisses his lady is delivering

It’s seksi time for Justin Bieber in his new track, “Hold Tight,” his third track in his series of #MusicMondays releases.

Backed by a R&B slow jamming click track, Bieber brings out his falsetto to talk about his lady’s great kisses.

Between lyrics like “That thing is swollen/you got me oh so in a trance,” “So hard/work it out” and “trying to maintain, so don’t mind if I turn away” we’re trying desperately to get certain mental images out of our head. 

The song has no change in tempo at all and Bieber’s delivery instead of sounding sexy, just seems forced, but if you’re a Bieber fan who dreams of getting your boy in a lip lock, this song will probably work for you.

Have you started your countdown clock until Dec. 25, when Bieber's movie, "Believer" opens? 

 

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<p>Taylor Swift</p>

Taylor Swift

Listen: Taylor Swift's new track 'Sweeter Than Fiction' from film 'One Chance'

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Singer co-wrote track with fun.'s Jack Antonoff

Pair Taylor Swift with fun.’s Jack Antonoff and the result is just as one would expect: an upbeat pop track with swelling choruses and a peppy message. So it is with “Sweeter Than Fiction,” the tune the pair wrote for “One Chance,” the British film about “Britain’s Got Talent” winner Paul Potts’ rags-to-riches story after he went from store clerk to chart-topping singer.

The song, which will run over the end credits, is a sweet tale about loving someone before they were famous and how glorious the success is after all the rejection that came before it. Of course, in the song, the pair stand united after fame hits instead of his dumping her for a younger super model.

The opening guitar strum will remind Swift fans of “You Belong With Me” run through fun.’s synthesizers and an '80s  British  synth pop filter. It could almost be in a John Hughes movie, though it's too mainstream.

Having just finished her world tour, Swift continues work on her next album the follow-up to 2012’s “Red.” She pretty reliable releases an album every two years in the fall, so expect her fifth studio album next fall.

This trailer features Swift talking about being inspired by Potts' struggle to write the song, as well as footage from the film and Swift and Antonoff in the studio.  Below is the full version of the song.

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<p>Miley Cyrus</p>

Miley Cyrus

Music Power Rankings: Miley Cyrus, Justin Bieber and Hall & Oates top the list

Marilyn Manson makes the tally for the first time

1. Miley Cyrus: “Bangerz” slams its way to No. 1 on the Billboard 200, crushing the competition. Even Sinead bought a copy.

2. Justin Bieber: His new movie, “Believe,” will open on Christmas Day. God gave us his only begotten son that day, Bieber gives us his latest film.

3. Morrissey: His autobiography finally comes out and it turns out you’re nobody if he hasn’t had a spat with you. And, for the last time, there will be no Smiths reunion.

4. Hall & Oates: The beloved duo finally lands a nomination for Rock & Roll Hall of Fame after years of lobbying from its fans. But will they lose out because a Kiss is on the list?

5. Lady Gaga: She’ll be spending her Thanksgiving with the Muppets in new TV special. That’s so much better than dried-out turkey with feuding relatives.

6. Taylor Swift: The 23-year old is honored for the sixth time by the Nashville Songwriters Assn. International as Songwriter/Artist of the year. They are never, ever breaking up.

7. Marilyn Manson: In what is actually a perfect fit, Manson is joining the cast of “Once Upon A Time.” The show creator said they wanted someone “with the vocal ability to make our skin crawl.” Oh, so he’ll be singing his lines, then...

8. Robert Plant: He went up to Misty Mountain and came down with some previously unreleased Led Zeppelin recordings. Is the new Beyonce album in the same hiding place?

9. A Tribe Called Quest: Following its Nov. 24 Madison Square Garden show with Kanye West, the seminal hip-hop collective will disband for good... at least until they reunite again.

10: Maxine Powell: Powell, who died this week at 98, held the unofficial title of Chief of Charm for Motown, training artists like the Jackson Five and Smokey Robinson how to dress and treat people. Can you imagine what she’d say to the likes of Rihanna and Miley Cyrus?

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<p>Pearl Jam</p>

Pearl Jam

Pearl Jam's 'Lightning Bolt' will blaze onto Billboard 200 next week

Seattle band's latest is one of seven debuts in the Top 10

Pearl Jam will claim the top spot next week with “Lightning Bolt.” The group’s 10th studio set will move close  to 180,000 copies. That’s 100,000 more than  Miley Cyrus’s “Bangerz,” which drops to No. 2 with sales of around 80,000.

The Seattle rockers are seven acts debuting in the top 10 next week:  Paul McCartney’s “New” will launch at No. 3 (75,000), Avett Brothers’ “Magpie and the Dandelion” at No. 4 (65,000), Scotty McCreery’s “See You Tonight” at No. 6 (50,000), The Head and the Heart’s “Let’s Be Still” at No. 8 (40,000), Willie Nelson’s “To All The Girls...” at No. 9, and Gavin DeGraw’s “Make A Move” at No. 10, according to Hits Daily Double.

There’s barely room for holdovers from this week, but in addition to Cyrus, Drake’s “Nothing Was The Same” is at No 5 and Lorde’s “Pure Heroine” is at No. 7.

Look for Pearl Jam’s stint at No. 1 to be brief as Katy Perry’s Prism, which comes out Oct. 22, is a lock to grab the top spot week after next.

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Katy Perry's 10 best songs from 'Hot n Cold' to 'Roar'

Katy Perry's 10 best songs from 'Hot n Cold' to 'Roar'

Did your favorite make the list?

Only three albums into her career, Katy Perry is one of the most successful artists in pop history. She is the only act to have a song in the Billboard Hot 100 top 10 for 69 consecutive weeks and she is the only female artist in history to take five songs to No. 1 from a single album.

From candy-coated confections like "California Gurls" to playful gender-bending tracks like "I Kissed a Girl," broken-hearted anthems such as "Part Of Me" and even a spacy, alien-loving "E.T.," Perry has kept us fascinated with her colorful look at life.

As Perry prepares to release her fourth studio album, "Prism," on Oct. 22, we pick her best tunes in this special Katy Perry playlist.

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Justin Bieber smiles even when his heart is breaking in 'Believe' clip: Watch

Justin Bieber smiles even when his heart is breaking in 'Believe' clip: Watch

New movie arrives Christmas Day

Justin Bieber doesn’t always feel like going on stage, alright people? In this clip from “Believe,” which is Bieber’s gift to the world on Christmas Day (Hey, God gave us Jesus, Bieber delivers his movie), he talks to some very sympathetic friends about how sometimes, it’s hard to gear up to perform in front of thousands of people who have paid their (or their parents’) hard-earned money to see you.

“I can be going through a big argument, ‘I’m about to go on stage right now, we’re young’,” he says, mimicking talking on the phone. “And then I got to go rise up on the toaster and it’s like I’m upset and I don’t want have to smile and put on a happy and be... sometimes you just gotta suck it up and that’s one of the things you have to deal with being in this world, in this industry,” he says. The toaster, by the way, is the springboard that catapults him onto stage. And it would appear that he may be talking about Selena Gomez in the clip.

While it’s tempting to play the world’s smallest violin for Bieber, I have always marveled that artists can be having the worst day and, if they’re professional, they have to suck it up and leave all of that off the stage and come out as if this is the moment they’ve wanted for all day and the only thing that matters.  And Bieber has had to learn that at a younger age than most.

The John Chu-directed “Believe” opens Dec. 25.




 

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<p>Gavin DeGraw</p>

Gavin DeGraw

Credit: Gavindegraw.com

Gavin DeGraw: 'I needed to be more relevant': Interview

Singer/songwriter talks change of pace on new album, 'Make A Move'

On his last album, 2011’s “Sweeter,” Gavin DeGraw worked with co-writers on four songs instead of penning every song by himself and the result was a number of hits, including Top 10, double-platinum smash “Not Over You.”

So when it came time to record “Make A Move,” which came out Tuesday (15),   DeGraw decided to go all in: he used co-writers on every track. “I thought why not try to keep the momentum going,”  he tells HitFix. “By including all these personalities, it will make it a lot more diverse, a lot more timely.’ Among his collaborators were OneRepublic’s Ryan Tedder, Benny Blanco, Busbee, Boys Like Girls’ Martin Johnson and Kevin Rudolf.

Indeed “Make A Move” may be the most wide-ranging set the blue-eyed soul singer has recorded. While there are his trademark mid-tempo tunes that show off his expressive voice, there are also a number of pop, up-tempo tracks like first single, “Best I Ever Had,” which, like Train’s “Drive-By,” is a fast-paced track with sung/spoken choruses and a catchy melody.

DeGraw wrote the song with Johnson, with whom he had already penned “Everything Will Change,” one of the album’s most emotional, moving songs. The two were in a Los Angeles studio and “Martin’s got this crazy drumbeat.” DeGraw recalls. “He says, ‘Sing something, anything,’ so I sang the first line of the song and then he says [the next line] and we just kind of went for it. The erratic lyrical content suited the sound of the melody. That song just makes me happy. It’s a freakishly insane lyrical journey.”

Some of DeGraw’s longtime, hardcore fans took to his Facebook page to declare their love for the song, while others felt it was too radical a change of pace from hits like “Not Over You” and his breakthrough, “I Don’t Want To Be.” “I think that happens a lot of time. When you put out a single, fans [think] that’s an indication of what the whole album is, but singles don’t mean what they used to mean,” he says. “It used to represent an entire album where one producer did an entire album, now the singles themselves live in a vacuum. The next song will be completely different.”

DeGraw will admit that he “did feel like I needed to be more relevant. I always feel like it’s important to try different things.” While he strove to be diverse, he balanced that with his desire “to maintain a sense of self. There are always things you want to include.”

He uses his friends and former tour mates Train as an model. The band has seen a tremendously successful second act, bolstered by such hits as “Hey, Soul Sister, “Marry Me,” and “Drive-By.” “They are one of the great examples for what it means to be adaptable, what it means to be relevant,” he says.

Plus, the last thing he would want any fan to believe is that if they’ve heard one DeGraw album, they’ve heard them all, he says: “That would be artistically devastating.”

DeGraw hits the road Dec. 4 in support of “Make A Move.”

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<p>Katy Perry</p>

Katy Perry

Katy Perry loves you 'Unconditionally' on new single: Listen

HitFix
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Is she singing about John Mayer?

Katy Perry showed us how fierce she is on “Roar,” and now she reveals that her love can be just as fierce on new single, “Unconditionally.”  The electronic power ballad (there’s a genre for you) is a testament to the strength of her love, as much as it is a strength to her vocal power.

The song starts with a beat and a synth line as she fears that she’s scared off her lover by getting too close, but she then promises that there’s nothing he can do to scare her away.  Dr. Luke and Cirkut’s production is a bit cold in contrast to her warm vocals, but in some ways that gives her all the most power to shine as she belts out her fidelity.  The title word doesn't scan well so there are parts that feel  a bit clunky, but Perry gets around that.

Is this about John Mayer? You decide.

"Unconditionally" is on Perry's fourth studio album, "Prism," which comes out Oct. 22.


 

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<p>Scotty McCreery</p>

Scotty McCreery

Scotty McCreery on 'See You Tonight,' Brad Paisley and country lyrics: Interview

What does he really think about his first album?

When Scotty McCreery’s debut album, 2011’s “Clear As Day” bowed at No. 1 on the Billboard 200, he became the youngest solo male to achieve that milestone.

Now with “See You Tonight,” his second studio album (not including a Christmas set), the “American Idol” champ hopes to prove that he has a sustainable country career. The 20-year old sophomore at Raleigh’s North Carolina State University attends classes during the early part of the week, and then spends most weekends traveling around the country playing gigs and visiting radio stations.

What comes across in even a brief conversation with McCreery is how grounded and mature he seems for someone who just turned 20. He's clearly enjoying college life, but he not likely to be showing up at any parties dropping Molly with Miley Cyrus.

On “See You Tonight,” which came out on Tuesday (15), McCreery co-wrote five of the tracks, fulfilling his goal to play a greater role in the creation of his albums. He talked to HitFix about the making of the album, his first headlining tour, if country music has a content problem and what he really thought of his first album.

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