Isnin, 28 Oktober 2013

The Star Online: Entertainment: Music

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The Star Online: Entertainment: Music

Katy Perry is more mature on Prism


The American singer – who turned 29 last week – has a new album out.

Singer Katy Perry has shed her cotton-candy pop image and reveals a vulnerability and maturity on her new album Prism, which she said reflects changes in both her personal life and her music.

Prism, released this week, is Perry's fourth studio album and the follow-up to 2010's phenomenally successful Teenage Dream. It is also the first album since the 29-year-old singer split with her husband, British comedian Russell Brand, in December 2011.

"I went through a lot of experiences in my life that I think built more character. I had to find my own self identity the hard way. But I did. I came out alive and stronger, a little bit stronger," Perry said in an interview.

From By The Grace Of God, the first and darkest song on the album, to the empowering lead single Roar, or Birthday, a rousing, catchy dance tune, Perry said each song tells a story.

"I think what Prism is, is an evolution and a maturity," she said. "I think you can hear growth as a songwriter. I hope you can hear the growth as a person."

Teenage Dream produced five No.1 singles, making it only the second album after Michael Jackson's Bad to achieve that milestone, and the first by a female artiste. It also sold 5.7 million copies worldwide. But Perry made it clear she was in a new place with Prism, with early teasers showing her burning the blue wig she wore in the music video for her hit single California Gurls and holding a mock funeral for her peppermint swirl outfit.

"I'm into different things," she said. "It is my most present album so far. I think I am living very consciously right now. I think I am very aware, more aware than I have ever been."

Perry reunited with music producers and songwriters Max Martin, Dr Luke and Cirkut for Prism. Most of the 13 tracks, all co-written by Perry, were recorded in San Diego, California, or with Martin and record producer and songwriter Klas Ahlund in Stockholm, Sweden, where club anthem Walking On Air and the hip-hop tinged This Is How We Do were both made.

The personal ballad By The Grace Of God, co-written with Greg Wells, reflects where Perry was emotionally late last year, the "stuff" she was working through and the blow to her self confidence.

"It had really gotten to me and I wrote this song out of a very sad place. I was hearing these negative thoughts and battling these negative thoughts," she said. Since splitting with Brand, Perry has moved on in her personal life and is dating singer-songwriter John Mayer.

Although she had initially expected to make a darker, more acoustic record, Perry said the opposite happened and she became much more upbeat, which is reflected in the album's title.

"I let a lot of light in my life during the spring of this year, which is when I made most of the record and it influenced my songs in a very positive way," she said. "All these beautiful colours of light and love came out and hope and joy and even just fun party songs."

Unconditionally, the second single and Perry's favourite song on the album, is a big, soaring ballad with a heavy drum tribal influence. Its lyrics speak about an all-accepting love. Perry wrote Roar, a thumping pop tune and her 10th No.1 Top 40 track, after becoming complacent in a relationship and not speaking up for herself.

Double Rainbow, a collaboration with producer Greg Kurstin and songwriter Sia, is about finding someone and a rare, magical moment.

"You can tell I am having fun and taking chances, musically with the different textures that I am showing in the songs," said Perry. "I'm painting with more colours this time. I think people can adopt certain anthems for the messages or they can make them their own." — Reuters

Heaven on Earth, indeed


If you're guilty of loving 1980s pop ditties, then Retrolicious was the place to be.

A LONG time ago, way before Britney Spears and her schoolgirl uniform and Miley Cyrus and her (urgh) twerking, there was Belinda Carlisle.

The former lead singer of American girl group The Go-Gos didn't have to resort to theatricality, depending solely on her crystal clear vocals and catchy, relatable songs. Sure, they were all slickly-produced 1980s power pop, but at no point did Carlisle feel a need to strip down to her undies to sell albums.

You could argue that it was a different era then, a more innocent time, when folks were more carefree. Nowhere was this efferverscent – albeit sweaty – spirit more evident than at Retrolicious Reunion in Singapore last Saturday.

Carlisle, now 55, performed to a 6,500-strong crowd, alongside other iconic 1980s chart-toppers Rick Astley and Bananarama. All three acts have appeared at Retrolicious before, hence the showcase was touted as a reunion of sorts.

There are many 1980s pop fans, judging by the enthusiastic response to Retrolicious since its inception in 2010. Over the past three years, 25,000 fans have attended the annual festival. Held outdoors at Fort Canning Park, it is organised by Singapore-based concert organiser Running Into The Sun.

To get the audience in the mood, deejays from Class 95FM (a Singaporean English radio station) appeared on stage wearing 1980s-influenced gear. After a bit of clowning around (kept mercifully short), they introduced Carlisle to a rapturous reception.

Bananarama in action. Comprising Keren Woodward and Sara Dallin, Bananarama was one of the biggest girl groups in the 1980s.

Bananarama in action: Comprising Keren Woodward and Sara Dallin, Bananarama was one of the biggest girl groups in the 1980s. 

Clad in an all-black ensemble comprising a lacy blouse, Carlisle – an animal lover and a vegetarian – performed bare-footed. With lyrics such as "Circle in the sand, 'round and 'round, never ending love is what we've found", there is a whimsy to her showmanship, and she looked like she was genuinely having fun.

As a die-hard fan, I had a smile plastered on my mug throughout, and giddily sang along. It's amazing that I knew every word to her songs, released more than two decades ago, and yet could barely remember what I had for breakfast the day before.

Carlisle performed Runaway Horses, I Get Weak, Summer Rain, La Luna, Leave A Light On and of course, her biggest hit, Heaven Is A Place On Earth. Although it was over, all too soon, it perfectly encapsulated what one loves about Belinda Carlisle.

Up next was Rick Astley, who made his fortune with a string of Stock Aitken Waterman hits in the 1980s. At the height of his success – at the young age of 27 – the Briton reportedly quit the pop industry to concentrate on his family.

Still boyish at 47, Astley conveyed anything but a family man persona throughout his performance. Just as cheeky as I remembered him at Retrolicious in 2010, he flirted shamelessly with women in the audience, encouraging them to "jiggle".

There's no denying that Astley's distinctive, rich voice is still in top form, as he performed Together Forever, Hold Me In Your Arms, Cry For Help and Never Gonna Give You Up.

Rick Astley started his set with Together Forever and received overwhelming response.

He also attempted a cover of The Temptations' classic Ain't Too Proud To Beg and my personal favourite, It Takes A Strong Strong Man. To me, the heartfelt, pathos-filled ballad remains the ultimate break-up song.

Last, but definitely not least, was Bananarama, the British female group who have had success on the pop and dance charts since 1982. (The group was founded by Keren Woodward, Sara Dallin and Siobhan Fahey. Following Fahey's departure from the group in 1988, Jacquie O'Sullivan joined the group for three years. Since 1992, Woodward, 52, and Dallin, 51, have continued Bananarama as a duo.)

Midway through their rendition of The Supremes cover Nathan Jones, I was distracted by a middle-aged, pot-bellied Caucasian behind me. Obviously intoxicated on beer, he bellowed, "Oy, play us what we know!"

Naturally, he – along with everyone else – were overjoyed when Bananarama launched into the familiar strains of their biggest hits, I Heard A Rumour and Venus.

They saved the best for last, and you know I'm talking about: Love In The First Degree. The pop ditty, with the most infectious chorus this part of the universe ("Only you can set me free, 'Cause I'm guilty! Guilty as a girl can be ..."), ensured that everyone left the showcase in nostalgia-tinged good spirits. It was guilty pleasure, yes, but of the most pleasurable kind.

Can't slow Lionel Richie down


Lionel Richie, 64, is ready to party All Night Long in new tour.

His fall tour is dubbed All the Hits, All Night Long, but if Lionel Richie truly was to play even half of his smash-filled catalogue, it would be more like All Year Long.

He's the king of the R&B pop jam and has lived on the charts since the 1970s, when the Commodores funked through Brick House and sent hearts fluttering with Three Times A Lady. His '80s solo career soared when Can't Slow Down spent the entire year of 1984 on the charts, eventually selling more than 10 million copies thanks to the ubiquity of All Night Long (All Night), Penny Lover and the ballad with perhaps the greatest video ever, Hello.

But Alabama native Richie is no nostalgia act. In 2012, Tuskegee, his album featuring country stars such as Shania Twain and Jason Aldean duetting with him on his own material, hit No 1 on the Billboard 200 album chart, his first to reach that pinnacle since 1984.

For the moment, though, Richie is bringing fans what he knows they want: a set featuring more than two dozen classics.

The affable Richie, 64, checked in recently to talk about his newfound fan base and his pride in being a Southerner.

So it's all the hits this time around?

You're gonna hear as many songs as we get to play; it's going to be a great show. There's always someone who will shout out a song and the band is prepared to go there. I'm going to go out there and give myself the quiz! It's going to be a lot of crazy memories.

Touring hasn't been a regular occurrence for you lately, has it?

I do a lot of private (shows) around the world, but ever since the Tina Turner tour (in 2000), we haven't done a major US tour. We haven't done America because I haven't found that tour package where you feel cool, this feels right. This time around, I said, "Look, I could be waiting for the next 40 years for that, let's just get out there." The beauty of this tour is just getting in front of the audience. We're setting it up to come back in the spring.

Are you seeing a generational thing in your audiences, with people bringing their kids?

It is the weirdest thing – how about the kids bringing their parents! We finished Hyde Park in London – 62,000 of my closest friends – and I'm looking in the audience and there are no 64-year-olds out there. We're looking at all these festivals we're playing, and all of a sudden, I'm realising it didn't sell out in four days because of my generation, it's the younger generation.

When Harry Connick Jr. came through Atlanta, he made a point of saying how audiences in the South are different. As a Southerner yourself, do you feel that way?

Absolutely. In the South, I'm Ly-nel. If it's really down South, it's Ly-nah, there is no "l" at the end! That is the best compliment of life. I know a lot of people, when they move away, they start to say, "I'm from L.A." "I'm from San Francisco." No, you're not – you're from Tupelo! When I did this country album (Tuskegee), I explained, I'm not going country, I am country. I didn't write Sail On to go country. My pride and joy is that I am from Alabama and a Southern boy. I attribute my success to the earthiness of growing up there.

Tuskegee came out about a year and a half ago, so is there anything in the pipeline?

The next release will probably be a mixture. I'm gonna write another album. I'll call it a Lionel Richie album, and if it happens to go country, we'll call it country. I do popular music that goes wherever it goes. On this next record, you'll hear some dance stuff because I like to hear people comment, "What the hell is this brother doing?" – The Atlanta Journal-Constitution/McClatchy-Tribune Information Services


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