On This Day in #KatyPerryHistory… 16th October 2013 Unconditionally single was released
Unconditionally was released as the second single from Katy’s 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 she described as unconditional love.
Unconditionally is a power ballad styled in rock, backed against a bassline and percussion. Commercially, it peaked within the top ten in Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Italy, Lebanon, and South Africa as well as the top twenty in Australia, Austria, Canada, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia, and the United States.
The single release was promoted with an Instagram-based campaign, a lyric video directed by Aya Tanimura and live performances—one of the latter, at the American Music Awards of 2013, was the center of controversy due to accusations of cultural appropriation and racism. 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.
It begins with Perry, sitting on the ground while mouthing the lyrics of the song and staring at the viewer. As she finishes the first verse, the camera shifts to a ballroom, in which elegantly-dressed dancers start to dance. The song’s chorus kicks in, and Perry is now found in the ballroom, in the middle of all the dancers. As the second verse begins, she has an owl on her arm, which she lets go and flies. The bird represents “something strong, free [and] powerful”, according to Bonacorso, who added: “She lets it go into the world[,] and that literally [means] letting this force within her go wild. That’s an important part of love[,] is that you have to let it go.” 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. This scene symbolizes the experience of true love, that changes “your world” and “hits you out of the blue”. This scene cuts back to the ballroom, where Perry is surrounded by a similar explosion of “colorful” flowers, which is used to contrast the more violent nature of falling in love and the softer part of it, the “joyful and wonderful” feelings.