In the ever changing landscape of pop music, it pays off to really cut the cord and try something new, and that’s something artists really need to learn quickly before they sink back into the sea. Katheryn Elizabeth Hudson, better known as Katy Perry, was lucky enough to master the art of reinvention on her second album. Coming off her very tongue-in-cheek debut record “One of the Boys,” Katy went straight for the jugular when she dropped the lead single to her sophomore album “Teenage Dream.” Opting for a more bubblegum pop oriented record, Katy released “California Gurls,” a disco influenced track she wrote as a response to the anthemic Empire State of Mind. In her own words in a Rolling Stone interview, the track was born when she heard the New York anthem and thought “what the fuck? What about LA? What about California? And it’s been a minute since we’ve had a California song and especially from a girl’s perspective. ” The 90s Prince-influenced house music beat along with the fizzy synths and electronic whooshes hit its spot in the public audience, as “California Gurls” made a quick skyrocket to #1 and solidified itself as the summer anthem of 2010, if not all time.
Later that year, what followed was Perry’s 2nd full length LP, the saccharin soaked “Teenage Dream.” The album starts off with the second single, which happens to be the album’s title track. The track, produced by the now infamous Dr. Luke along with pop masterminds Max Martin and Shellback, was also quick to rise to #1, becoming a staple in the album’s era. Within the song, she sings an infectious hook about how her lover makes her feel like a teenager again, a sentiment longed for by many people.
Following up is the 2011 smash hit “Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.),” an exemplary 80s throwback that surely became part of every weekend party playlist. The track contains rhymes and wordplay that would easily rival the claims that she’s a children’s artist, referencing herself having a ménage à trois with two other party goers. Following “California Gurls” is yet another one of Katy’s most well known songs, the prideful “Firework,” a song that’s both famous and infamous among music lovers.
What follows, however, might leave some feeling a bit turned off completely. On the playfully raunchy “Peacock”, Katy sings of wanting to see a man’s… um, manhood. Cute as the metaphors may be, they don’t work out as well as she may have hoped they would. The pace quickly picks back up, however, on “Circle the Drain,” a track very reminiscent of Katy’s previous pop-rock drenched record “One of the Boys.” “I’m not sticking around to watch you go down” Katy sings of her lover, who seems to have lost himself in an addiction of sorts and no longer provides her with what she wants. Next up is the #2 peaking “The One That Got Away,” a song where Katy finds herself lamenting over a relationship that just didn’t work out. “The One That Got Away” is a beautiful pop ballad that leaves us wondering why it couldn’t just get that final push to secure Katy the record of most #1s from an album on the Billboard Hot 100.
Katy recovers quickly from heartbreak on the follow up track “E.T.,” where we find ourselves aboard a spaceship on our way to a date on an alien planet. “E.T.” makes for a fun intergalactic trip where Katy finally gets the sexual metaphors first found on “Peacock” right, comparing a man’s love to modern technology with the line “stun me with your laser.” “E.T.” was notable the first track where Katy adopted the strategy of adding a rapper to the single release, with the remix to this one featuring hip-hop superstar Kanye West.
The two songs that follow, “Who Am I Living For?” and “Pearl,” travel deep into Katy’s psyche, where Katy questions her purpose while reflecting on a relationship that left her feeling like nothing more than a shell of her former self. “Hummingbird Heartbeat” quickly lifts Katy’s spirits back up as she brings back the innuendos, this time referring to a man’s “essence” as honey, not too distant from Mariah Carey’s hit single “Honey.” Like “Circle the Drain,” this track will leave listeners feeling as though they’re playing Katy’s debut record “One of the Boys.” Last on the standard, but not least, is “Not Like the Movies”, a beautiful fan favorite ballad in which Katy asks a question so many of us wonder.
Katy wasn’t done here, though, as the album’s re-release “Teenage Dream: The Complete Confection” added 3 new tracks. The first of the 3 was “Part of Me,” a song reminiscent of “The One That Got Away” in its instrumentation that where Katy takes a stand for herself, telling a past lover that he won’t ever break her, which also serves as a major song in her same-titled concert film. “Wide Awake” is an uplifting number that recounts when Katy found herself without a label after her first venture as an artist, and is a huge fan favourite. And finally, “Dressin’ Up” is essentially the sequel to Peacock, in that both songs play with sexual innuendos that leave the listener feeling a bit awkward, such as “you’re such a dirty doggy.”
Despite a couple of missteps, “Teenage Dream” has solidified itself as a pop staple, not only for its infectious hooks and sugary verses, but also because of the fact that it dominated for 2 years straight, earning Katy the title of the female with the most #1s from a single album in the Billboard Hot 100, overall tying the 5 #1s Michael Jackson achieved on his legendary album “Bad.” “Teenage Dream” is sure to become a classic as future generations look back on what the 2010s had to offer.