It’s the era of a star turn: guest collaborations, with acts turning up on other artists’ records, are now so commonplace that many chart entries read more like a telephone directory than a simple listing. Katy Perry, however, has used her partnerships sparingly, with care taken to work with others either when there’s a new direction to explore or an opportunity to bring someone into a project where they will add an exciting new spin. The best Katy Perry collaborations to date reveal why each partnership has added up to something greater than the sum of its parts.
10: Starstrukk (30H!3, featuring Katy Perry)
EDM duo 30H!3 was moving up a league when they met Katy, joining some European dates of her 2009 tour. She guested on a reworked version of their “Starstrukk” single, helping it drive its way onto the international charts, with a notable Top 3 placing in the UK. The collaboration owed much to the power-pop of Katy’s own material at the time.
9: Who You Love (John Mayer, featuring Katy Perry)
This tender 2013 ballad is a country-flavored memento from a former romance between Katy Perry and singer-songwriter John Mayer. Released as the third single from his Paradise Valley album, the duet became a modest US hit and gained wider interest thanks to its beautiful Sophie Muller video, featuring a handful of real-life couples.
8: Swish Swish (Katy Perry, featuring Nicki Minaj)
Nicki Minaj’s guest appearances are an established feature of much modern pop, and this 2017 club banger remains one of Katy Perry’s most memorable dance hits. When she performed it on Saturday Night Live, her performance guest Russell Horning (aka Backpack Kid) was crowned an internet sensation and The Floss became a dance craze copied the world over. Perhaps Russell should have earned a credit alongside Nicki?
7: If We Ever Meet Again (Timbaland, featuring Katy Perry)
Timbaland was one of the go-to producers of the first decade of the 21st Century, with Justin Timberlake, Madonna, and Nelly Furtado owing much of their success of that era to him. Katy joined him on this track from his Shock Value II collection and it became one of the record’s biggest hits, particularly in Europe.
6: 365 (Zedd and Katy Perry)
Dance musician-producer Zedd joined Katy on some dates of her international tour to support Witness and they used some of the downtime to work on material together. When this light house collaboration hit the airwaves early in 2019, it became a modest hit, its insistent pop melody proving an earworm that was hard to dislodge once it had burrowed its way in…
5: ET (Katy Perry, featuring Kanye West)
The longtime production partnership with Dr. Luke and Max Martin helmed this electro ballad, which also saw considerable input from pop powerhouse Ammo. The decision to bring Kanye West onto the project added a tougher, hip-hop energy that was something of a risk for Katy at a relatively early stage of her career. The gamble paid off and, despite being the fourth single from the Teenage Dream album, “ET” made it all the way to the top of the US charts and was one of the world’s biggest releases of 2011.
4: California Gurls (Katy Perry, featuring Snoop Dogg)
Proving that her breakthrough album, One Of The Boys, was no flash in the pan relied on getting a hit single off the blocks with her follow-up. “California Gurls” was a masterclass in fizzy pop construction and high-impact styling (who can forget that video?), while the canny choice of a guest collaboration gives it an ever-so-knowing edge. A transatlantic No.1 and a Grammy nomination showed the world that this was how to do it…
3: Chained To The Rhythm (Katy Perry, featuring Skip Marley)
Launching Witness with a pop classic, this dancehall-flavored smash had much to say about today’s fractured world – a message amplified by, perhaps, Katy’s career-best video to date. Sia co-wrote the track and collaborated on the recording with backing vocals, but it was the memorable contribution with Bob Marley’s grandson that was the highlight for many on this huge hit. Skip joined her for promotional performances at the 2017 Grammys and Brit Awards.
2: Feels (Calvin Harris, featuring Pharrell Williams, Katy Perry and Big Sean)
This summer anthem proved to be the breakout track from Calvin’s Funk Wav Bounces Vol.1 album in 2017. Pulling together disco and ska influences, its loping summer vibe sounded great on radio and became one of the year’s undisputed beach anthems. Across Europe, “Feels” topped the charts and was a significant club hit in the US, even making the Top 20 on the Billboard Hot 100.
1: Dark Horse (Katy Perry, featuring Juicy J)
Drawing inspiration from the cult 90s movie The Craft, this witty lyric to unpredictable temptation was wrapped in a tougher, more urban musical direction that represented a brave step for Katy at this stage of her career. Juicy J provided the ballast to Katy’s lighter pop; the fans loved it and the striking video became one of the most-streamed of all time, with more than two billion views to date.
Looking for more? Discover the 20 best Katy Perry songs.