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» » Katy Perry: Unconditionally (2013)

Short summary

The video begins with Perry, sitting on the ground while mouthing the lyrics and staring at the camera. As she finishes the verse, the camera shifts to the ballroom, in which the dancers start to dance. The song's chorus kicks in, and she is now found in the ballroom, in the middle of all the dancers. As the second verse begins and she has an owl on her arm, which she lets go and flies. The bird represents "something strong, free and powerful". The video also shows Perry, with a golden dress and cross-shaped earrings, with flames on her body. By the second repetition of the chorus, a bed gets lit on fire, which the director included to refer to love that "can burn you like an inferno". As the song reaches its climax, Perry gets hit by a car, with tiny broken debris from it shattering behind her, while she remains stationary and unharmed.

The song was released as the second single from her fourth studio album Prism (2013) on October 16, 2013.

Inspiration for the song came primarily from a humanitarian trip to Madagascar that Perry made in partnership with UNICEF.

Having been surrounded by what Perry described as unconditional love, she co-wrote it with the song's producers Dr. Luke, Max Martin and Cirkut to reflect that feeling.

"Unconditionally" is a power ballad styled in rock, backed against a bass-line and percussion.

The song peaked within the top ten in Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Italy, Lebanon, and South Africa.

The song peaked within the top twenty in Australia, Austria, Canada, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia, and the United States.

The single release was promoted with an Instagram-based campaign.

Brent Benacorso served as the director for the track's music video, which adopts the theme of love and uses a series of metaphors to enrich its concept.

The song was engineered by Peter Carlsson, Clint Gibbs, Sam Holland, and Michael Illbert, with assistance by Eric Eylands, Rachael Findlen, Justin Fox, and Cory Bice.

Engineering for mix was carried out by John Hanes and final mixing was helmed by Serban Ghenea at the MixStar Studios in Virginia Beach, Virginia.

The song paces at a moderately fast metronome, at approximately 129 beats per minute, while it is set at a 4/4 time signature.

Lyrically, Jason Lipshutz from Billboard deemed it the "most mature offering" on Prism, claiming it served as a "predicate" to Perry's 2010 single "Teenage Dream".

The track debuted on October 16, 2013 and was serviced by Capitol Records to contemporary hit radio stations in the United States on October 22, thus accompanying the album's release.

A CD single was released in Germany on November 22 - the same date it was serviced to radios in Italy.

A remix version of the song by Johnson Somerset was featured on a compilation album entitled Songs for the Philippines benefiting those affected by Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines.

The lyric video for "Unconditionally", directed by Aya Tanimura, was released on October 18, 2013.

John Walker from MTV praised the track and felt that the song could be written from the perspective of Jesus and denoted possible Christian undertones lying.

Jason Lipshutz from Billboard deemed the song a "visceral ballad" capable of conveying its theme of relationships.

Kitty Empire of The Guardian reckoned the track was "ungainly" and "adverbial".

Helen Brown of The Daily Telegraph wrote that its lyrics had "self-help lingo", although she remarked that "Perry's genuine faith in it, along with her wit and sense of fun, powers her through".

Kevin Fallon from The Daily Beast regarded it as adequate for a Nicholas Sparks-adapted movie, however, he noted that Perry's vocal delivery saved the song of being "schmaltzy".

HitFix's Melinda Newman graded the track with a 'B'-she felt Perry's voice sounded "soaring", and opined that the theme of the song resonated due to Perry's vocal and overall delivery.

Glenn Gamboa of Newsday thought Perry "ruined" the track, which she deemed "decent", for pronouncing the song title as "uncondishunally".

Jon Dolan from Rolling Stone wrote that the song "set stark revelations to torrential Euro splendor".

Katie Woodard from Nouse said the song's "power ballad approach" highlights Perry's vocal performance.

Trent Wolfe of The Verge, thought the song was part of the group of the Prism tracks that could "benefit from a preciously strummed six-string" instead of "beats and synths".

Digital Spy's Robert Copsey awarded the song with a four out of five points rating, writing that Perry sounded "effortless" as compared to her peers.

"Unconditionally" debuted on the US Billboard Hot 100 at number 30. The next week, it moved five spots up to number 25; it further moved three spots the following week. On its fourth week, the track went to number 16 and one week later it rose one spot. It later peaked at number 14 on the chart.

It was Perry's second single to miss peaking within the top 10 of the chart.

"Unconditionally" enjoyed success-it peaked atop the Hot Dance Club Songs, while reaching number seven on the Adult Top 40 and number 16 on the Adult Contemporary charts.

On the Pop Songs chart, it peaked at number 8.

The song has sold more than 1,000,000 copies in the United States.

The song was certified Platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).

The song debuted and peaked at 11 on the Australian Singles Chart.

The song has spent a total of 13 weeks in the chart, marking it as Perry's lowest spanning single in Australia.

The song received a platinum certification by the Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA), denoting more than 70,000 copies sold.

In New Zealand, the song entered at 26, where it ultimately peaked.

The song spent 10 weeks on the singles chart. It subsequently became Perry's lowest spanning and peaking single in New Zealand.

The song reached its highest position in Europe of number 5 in Bulgaria while having its lowest peak in Russia, at number 69.

It reached number 16 on the Ö3 Austria Top 40-where it spent 12 weeks.

On the Italian, German and Czech single charts, it was able to peak within the top 10, at number 6 for the first two and number 8 on the latter.

In Italy, it sold more than 15,000 copies and was certified Gold by the Federation of the Italian Music Industry (FIMI).

On the French SNEP chart, it peaked at number 38, and was Perry's third single to miss the top 20 there.

In the United Kingdom, "Unconditionally" reached number 25.

In Ireland the track peaked at number 27.

In Slovakia the song charted at number 11.

In Belgium it reached numbers 49 and 26 in Flanders and Wallonia, respectively.

In the Mexican Monitor Latino and Poland single chart, it managed to peak at 17.

In Netherlands, the track reached number 32.

The track charted at numbers 26 and 27 in Spain.

The music video for "Unconditionally", directed by Brent Bonacorso, was filmed in London during October 2013.

The video was partly inspired by the costume drama films Dangerous Liaisons and Anna Karenina.

During an interview with MTV, Bonacorso talked about the concept for the video. He stressed that he wanted to match the song's tone with its visual, explaining that he wanted to depict a "more mysterious, elegant and sophisticated world to live in..... less about a time period and more about creating an impression and a feeling."

As the song essentially discusses the feeling of love, the video itself sees Perry amidst scenarios which indirectly refer to the power of it.

The video is set in two different spaces, as Perry is found both in a snowy background and in a ballroom surrounded by dancers, which are mostly dressed in black apparel.

The video premiered through MTV on November 19, 2013.

On October 22, 2013, Perry first performed "Unconditionally" along with her other Prism tracks at the iHeartRadio Theater in Los Angeles, California.

Perry performed the song the next day when hosting the "We Can Survive" concert along with friends Bonnie McKee, Kacey Musgraves, Sara Bareilles, Ellie Goulding, and duo Tegan and Sara at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles.

Perry performed the song on the Australian version of The X Factor on October 28, 2013.

Perry performed the track on the Australian breakfast program Sunrise.

On November 10, 2013, Perry performed "Unconditionally" at the 2013 MTV Europe Music Awards.

Perry opened the American Music Awards of 2013 on November 24, 2013 with a geisha-inspired performance of the song.

On December 5, 2013, Perry performed the song on the Italian X Factor.

On December 13, 2013, Perry performed the song on The Voice of Germany together with four contestants of the show.

On December 14, 2013, Perry performed "Unconditionally" at the NRJ Music Awards 2014.

Perry performed "Unconditionally" on the season 10 finale of The X Factor (UK) on December 15, 2013.

Perry performed a stripped down version of the song on the December 20, 2013 episodes of The Ellen Degeneres Show and Alan Carr: Chatty Man.

The performance of "Unconditionally" at the American Music Awards led to accusations of cultural appropriation and racism from Asian-American groups and media outlets from the Wall Street Journal to Psychology Today for Perry dressing up as a geisha during the performance.

In 2016, American singer and actor Jencarlos Canela covered the song for the US version of the musical The Passion. This version appears on the official soundtrack album.

Venezuela (APFV) Platinum certification with 10,000 sales.


Credited cast:
Katy Perry Katy Perry - Katy Perry
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