Katy Perry is no dark horse. Before she became an international sensation, this American singer-songwriter was a Christian rocker from Santa Barbara, California. In 2001, at age 16 her debut gospel album bombed, with only 100 albums sold. Undeterred, the Roar singing sensation went from one record company to another, determined to succeed. Her first pop song was thought to be a one-hit wonder, but then came the fireworks. She released two of the catchiest pop songs of the era, I Kissed a Girl and Hot N Cold, to begin her climb to mega-stardom.
With her conservative upbringing, Perry was unacquainted with popular or rock music like her peers. Perry decided to pursue music, and broke away from the gospel influence. She cites Queen’s flamboyant Freddie Mercury as her musical inspiration.
Inspired by the emo scene, Perry’s first single, UR So Gay, was a Madonna favorite, with Perry receiving comparisons to British singer Lily Allen. Much to the surprise of critics, I Kissed a Girl became her breakthrough single, topping the charts in 15 countries, and catapulted her into the pop music scene. The alleged one-hit wonder was no longer the dark horse.
In 2010, Katy Perry’s Teenage Dream appeared at number one on the Billboard 100, and she became the first female singer in 11 years to achieve three chart-topping singles – Firework, California Gurls and Teenage Dream – from the same record.
When Perry first emerged on the music scene, her look was sheer camp. On her Warped Tour, she performed with a giant tube of lip balm. Today, her style choices have become more refined, as seen on the 2013 cover of Vogue shot by Annie Leibovitz. When asked what she is looking to achieve with her look, Perry has described her style as “Lucille Ball meets Bob Mackie.” She told People magazine in 2010 that designer trends and styles don’t dictate her own fashion sense. She simply “knows what looks good” on herself and has gone from Betty Boop to Bettie Page, and even “more meow.”
As the 14-time winner of the People’s Choice Awards, Perry has a string of accolades including from from MTV Music Video Awards, American Music Awards, a Brit award, American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) awards and Billboard awards. In December 2013, she received the British Bizarre Award for female icon of the year.
Perry recently revealed on Clear Channel’s iHeart radio that while partaking in her first Grammy show, she shared a dressing room with Taylor Swift and Miley Cyrus. She requested and received a lock of hair from each. With a ribbon tied around the locks, Perry placed them inside her empty purse to carry with her. When asked about the odd keepsake, Perry replied, “why not go for the eBay gold,” when requesting a souvenir from a fellow musician.
Katy Perry is well on her way toward getting a tattoo collection. Her five tattoos tell a story of her musical journey, starting with Jesus on her wrist. In 2009, she had a strawberry inked on her inner left ankle. While dating Russell Brand, she got a Sanskrit tattoo inked onto her arm that reads, Go with the Flow. A smiling peppermint tattoo adorns her right ankle in honor of her California Dreams tour. To represent “new beginnings” during her divorce from Russell Brand, Perry had a tiny lotus flower inked onto her wrist.
In October 2013, Katy Perry released her fourth album, Prism. The album made its way to the top of the Billboard charts, selling 286,000 copies in its first week. As the pop queen climbs to the top of the charts, rest assured, Katy Perry is no longer the dark horse.
by Dawn Levesque