Katy finally found a permanent home and a new name when she signed to Capitol in 2007. With her first set of songs almost complete, it was decided that Katy should work with Dr Luke on a couple of extra tracks, including the single that would get her noticed. The cheeky ‘I Kissed A Girl’, from One Of The Boys, hit the top of the charts across the world, including the UK and US. Further smashes ‘Hot N Cold’, ‘Thinking Of You’ and ‘Waking Up In Vegas’ powered the album to seven million sales worldwide, a peak of No.9 in the States and the green light for her first global tour.
In no time, MTV Europe had named Katy its Best New Act, and she recorded for the channel’s prestigious Unplugged series. She also guested on Timbaland’s hit ‘If We Ever Meet Again’ and, by the end of 2009, Katy’s spectacular 18 months was crowned with a 31 December engagement to British comedian Russell Brand, who she had met while filming a cameo for his movie Get Him To The Greek.
Juggling appearances on reality shows The X Factor and American Idol, Katy released ‘California Gurls’ with rapper Snoop Dogg in 2010. It again made the top of the Billboard Hot 100 and the track, playful and naughty without ever crossing the line into crudity or crassness, repeated that chart performance worldwide, including a two-week run at the top of the UK charts in July 2010. ‘Teenage Dream’, the title track of her second Capitol album, also followed its predecessor to the top of the US charts. It was a stunning start to the campaign for that sometimes-tricky sophomore album, illustrated by the set’s confident debut at No.1 on the Billboard chart.
The collection sold strongly and its singles helped secure Katy a place in the record books as each release raced swiftly up the US charts. ‘Firework’, widely regarded as Katy’s most memorable anthem to date, with its universal theme of self-belief, became the album’s third consecutive No.1 in the States in December of that year.
Kanye West joined Katy on ‘ET’, which managed five non-consecutive weeks on the top of the US Hot 100 from April 2011, making Teenage Dream only the ninth album in history to produce four US chart-toppers. In August, ‘Last Friday Night (TGIF)’ also made No.1, crowning Katy as the first female artist to get five singles from the same album to hit the peak position stateside. With the album still selling strongly, it was a sixth release, ‘The One That Got Away’, did just that and fell two places short, peaking at US No.3. A repackaged reissue of the album entitled, Teenage Dream: The Complete Confection, took Perry back to more familiar territory when ‘Part Of Me’ again topped the US charts in early 2012, and a follow-up, ‘Wide Awake’, also made US No.2.
Such success made another world tour inevitable, and the California Dreams Tour grossed almost $60 million, keeping Katy on the road for almost a year from February 2011. Despite this grueling schedule, she juggled dates with a series of TV cameos, including a guest slot on Sesame Street, which attracted a fair deal of controversy for Katy’s choice of outfit, and led to the show deciding not to air the segment. Less contentious were Katy’s appearances on The Simpsons, Saturday Night Live and Raising Hope. Movie theatres also witnessed Katy joining the cast for The Smurfs and the release of her documentary feature Katy Perry: Part Of Me, which grossed more than $30 million worldwide.
While Perry’s creative success seemed unstoppable, the period was tough for the singer. She had married Russell Brand in October 2010 but, after just 14 months, the marriage collapsed. Wider business ventures, including two fragrance launches, kept her focused and Katy’s determination to keep on working saw her back in the studio by the end of 2012 to start sessions for her fourth album, Prism. Though the tone of the songs darkened during recording, Katy was happy with the set and lead single, ‘Roar’, powered its way to the top of the US and UK charts on its release in August 2013.
It was perhaps unfair to expect Prism to live up to its predecessor’s ridiculously high chart records, but though third single, ‘Unconditionally’, failed to breach the US Top 10, ‘Dark Horse’ had by then become her ninth US chart-topper. The parent album has sold more than four million copies to date, and launched Katy’s biggest tour yet, with the Prismatic World Tour starting its global trek in May 2014 and culminating in a performance at the Rock In Rio festival in October 2015.
Katy’s success has come during the age of the internet, and it’s perhaps no surprise that, in 2014, she was certified the biggest digital artist of all time by the Recording Industry Association Of America (RIAA) for certified sales of 72 million digital singles in the US to that date. The following year, Perry performed at the Super Bowl half-time show with guests Lenny Kravitz and Missy Elliott. She spent the rest of the year working on a wide variety of projects, including the launch of her own record label, Metamorphosis Music, with Capitol.
During 2016, Katy released a standalone single, ‘Rise’, for an American broadcaster’s coverage of that summer’s Olympic Games, but there’s been no new music since, with Katy claiming that she is in no rush to get a new record out. There’s no doubt that Katy is an accomplished pop performer with a clearly defined image, but her work carries influences from a number of genres and artists. It’s this ability to fuse different styles and keep her audience evolving with her that suggests a career similar to one of her strongest inspirations, Madonna, who captured the zeitgeist more than 30 years ago, just as Katy was born.
Sexy and knowing, canny and influential, Katy supports a wide number of charities, is a ferocious champion of the LGBT community, and campaigned hard for Hillary Clinton in 2016’s bitter US election contest. She’s struggled with critical reaction – despite a number of popular awards wins – and her relentless schedule has likely taken its toll on her personal life, but this noticeable slowdown in recent months seems timely, and it’s certain that her inevitable return to the pop arena will see her back at the top of the charts once more.
Katy Perry's second studio album released on June 17, 2008 includes the singles 'I Kissed a Girl', 'Hot n Cold' and 'Thinking of You'.
Nothing comes naturally for Katy Perry. Blessed with a cheerleader’s body, the face of a second-chair clarinetist and a drama club queen’s lust for the spotlight, Perry parlayed all these qualities into success via her 2008 pop debut One of the Boys, an album that worked overtime to titillate. Working hard is Katy Perry’s stock in trade: whether she’s cavorting in the Californian sun or heaving her cleavage, she always lets you see her sweat, an effect that undercuts her status as a curvy Teenage Dream, the ideal she puts forth on her 2010 sophomore set. All this labor produces fetching magazine covers -- sometimes accompanied by good copy within -- and grabbing videos but it undoes her records, since we always hear her fighting to be frivolous. And all Perry wants to do is have fun: all she wants is to frolic in the spotlight, and she’ll follow the path of others to get there, raising eyebrows a’la Alanis, strutting like Gwen Stefani and relying on Britney’s hitmaker Max Martin for her hooks. There’s no question Perry is smart enough to know every rule in pop but she’s not inspired enough to ignore them, almost seeming nervous to break away from the de rigeur lite club beats that easily transition from day to night or the chilly, stainless-steel ballads designed to lose none of their luster on repeat plays. Perry acknowledges some shifting trends -- she salutes fellow attention-whore Ke$ha on “Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.),” replicates Ryan Tedder’s glassy robotic alienation on “E.T.” but tellingly avoids ripping off Lady Gaga, who is just too meta for the blunt Katy -- but these are merely accents to her old One of the Boys palette. And, once again, the music feels familiar, so Perry distinguishes herself through desperate vulgarity, wooing a suitor with “you make me feel like I’m losing my virginity,” extolling the virtues of blackouts and an accidental ménage a trois, melting popsicles, pleading for a boy to show her his “Peacock” (chanting “cock cock cock” just in case we at home didn’t get the single entendre). All this stylized provocation is exhausting, and not just because there’s so much of it (none of it actually arousing). It’s tiring because, at her heart, Perry is old-fashioned and is invested in none of her aggressive teasing. Not for nothing did she give her best post-One of the Boys song, “I Do Not Hook Up,” to Kelly Clarkson; its pro-abstinence rally flies in the face of the masturbatory daydream she’s constructed. It's ironic that her best song finds her lurking behind the scenes, because Perry's greatest talent is to be a willing cog in the pop machine, delivering sleek singles like “Teenage Dream” and “Hummingbird Heartbeat” with efficiency. Isolated on the radio, the way “Hot N Cold” was in 2009, these singles will wind up obscuring the overheated and undercooked nature of Teenage Dream as a whole. Then again, the album itself is almost incidental to the self-styled fantasy that Katy Perry sells with this entire project. Words: Stephen Thomas Erlewine
Teenage Dream did its job. With its five number one singles, the 2010 album turned Katy Perry into a genuine superstar, the kind of musician whose image rivaled her music in popularity, the kind who could topline her own 3-D theatrical documentary, the kind whose name became shorthand for a sugar-pop sensibility. This meant there was only one thing left for her to do on its 2013 sequel, Prism: to make a graceful pivot from teen dream to serious, mature artist. Prism hits these marks precisely yet isn't stuffy, not with its feints at trap-rap, but even with the preponderance of nightclub glitz, there isn't a shadow of a doubt that Katy Perry has toned down her cheesecake burlesque, opting for a hazy, dreamy, sun-kissed hippie Californian ideal that quietly replaces the happily vulgar pinup of her earliest years. All the lingering nastiness of One of the Boys -- the smiling Mean Girl backstabbing of "Ur So Gay," for instance -- and the pneumatic Playboy fantasy of Teenage Dream are unceremoniously abandoned in favor of Perry's candy construct of a chipper, cheerful grown-up prom princess, the popular girl who has left all her sneering dismissals in the past. Perry remains a terminal flirt but she channels her energies into long-term relationships -- the sexiest song, "Birthday," is a glorious retro-disco explosion delivered to a steady boyfriend, while elsewhere she testifies toward unconditional love -- and the overall effect transforms Prism into a relatively measured, savvy adult contemporary album, one that's aware of the latest fashions but is designed to fit into Katy's retirement plan. Ultimately, this makes Prism a tighter, cleaner record than its predecessors -- there are no extremes here, nothing that pushes the boundaries of either good taste or tackiness; even when she cheers on excess on "This Is How We Do" she's not a participant but rather a ringmaster, encouraging her fans to spend money they don't have just so they can have a good time. Ultimately, this sense of reserve reveals just how canny Katy Perry really is: she's determined to give her career a dramatic narrative arc, eager to leave behind the bawdy recklessness of her early years in favor of something that's age appropriate. That's why the lead single from Prism was "Roar," an homage to Sara Bareilles so transparent that the singer/songwriter may deserve co-credit: the inspirational adult contemporary single signaled how Perry no longer views herself as a fluffy confection but rather a showbiz staple who'll be here for years and years, and Prism fully lives up to that carefully constructed ideal. Words: Stephen Thomas Erlewine