The Ultimate Puff Piece

Sarah Askari gives 3121 a good sniff (and a bad review)

As a music editor, I don't often get a chance to apply my critic's quill to a product such as the 3121 cologne. But that rock-crit eminence Robert Christgau once devoted his consumer guide to rating regional yogurts; there's no reason why the capsule review format can't work here as well. I often set up a review as if it were an answer to a question. In this case, "Can Prince translate his eccentric genius into a personal grooming product, or is he merely cashing in on a well-known brand?"

It's important for a critic to show an insider's knowledge of the business of making records—or, uh, fragrances. Here's what I can tell you: The company Prince chose to release his signature scent, Revelations Perfume, also brought us Stoked by Bethany Hamilton—the teenage surfer who lost her arm in a shark attack.

While album-cover art has lost relevance with every download, packaging still matters in the fragrance industry. Unfortunately, with its oblong, emerald-cut bottle, faded-lilac liquid, and Tron-era font, 3121's presentation is slightly tacky. Outside of the bedrooms of fourth-grade girls and the courts of medieval kings, purple-and-gold is just not the elegant color combination Prince believes it to be.

Finally, we wrap up the review with some jazzy language describing either the work itself or its purported effect. To wit: The predictable combination of floral and citrus notes will remind you more of standing too close to an old lady in an elevator than catching a young lady masturbating in a hotel lobby. Is this what it smells like when doves cry?

 
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