The Top 15 Katy Perry Songs of Her Career
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Since first emerging into the pop mainstream with her debut smash hit “I Kissed a Girl” in 2008, Katy Perry has become one of the world’s top pop stars. She has sold more than 80 million digital singles in the US alone as well as certifications for album sales of six million. Katy Perry is the first artist to match Michael Jackson’s feat of five #1 pop hit singles from a single album. She capped her rise to stardom with headlining the 2015 Super Bowl Halftime Show. These are the 15 top singles of Katy Perry’s career.
“I Kissed a Girl” – 2008
Katy Perry says the idea for “I Kissed a Girl,” her breakthrough pop hit single, just popped into her head. She didn’t do anything with the idea for a year and a half. At the very end of the sessions for her album One of the Boys, “I Kissed a Girl” was put together. She claims she only had two days remaining of studio time to put together the final recording with producer Dr. Luke. Katy Perry’s “I Kissed a Girl” generated controversy both for the subject matter and comparisons with Jill Sobule’s song “I Kissed a Girl.” Katy Perry says the song was primarily inspired by her memories of the intimate friendships of teenage girls not a statement about sexual orientation. “I Kissed a Girl” became a #1 pop hit and turned Katy Perry into a star. It broke into the top 40 on the dance and alternative songs charts as well. “I Kissed a Girl” earned a Grammy Award nomination for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance.
“Hot n Cold” – 2008
“Hot n Cold” humorously looks at shifting male moods in a romantic relationship. While it did not feature the in-your-face lyrical content of “I Kissed a Girl,” the song became a top 3 pop smash. It went to #1 on pop charts in many other countries around the world. Katy Perry kicked off promotion of “Hot n Cold” with a live performance on the Today show. It became Katy Perry’s first single to top both the mainstream and adult pop radio charts. It also broke into the top 10 of the adult contemporary chart. “Hot n Cold” earned Katy Perry her second consecutive Grammy Award nomination for Best Female Pop Vocal.
“Waking Up In Vegas” – 2009
“Waking Up in Vegas” was the final single from the album One of the Boys. It was co-written by pop music songwriting legend Desmond Child. The song was initially recorded under Katy Perry’s ill-fated contract with Columbia Records, and she took it along in her move to Capitol. The accompanying cinematic style music video filmed by director Joseph Kahn received strong praise. Katy Perry’s love interest is portrayed by actor Joel David Moore. Las Vegas headliners Penn and Teller also appear in the video. “Waking Up in Vegas” became Katy Perry’s third top 10 pop hit single in the US. It went to #1 on the dance chart.
“California Gurls” featuring Snoop Dogg – 2010
Katy Perry has explained that “Calfornia Gurls” is an answer song to the hit “Empire State Of Mind” about New York City by Jay-Z and Alicia Keys. The first single from the upcoming album was proudly launched with the advertising phrase, “Summer begins here!” The song was originally titled “California Girls,” but the spelling was changed in homage to the recently deceased Alex Chilton of the legendary garage pop band Big Star. One of their best-loved songs was titled “September Gurls.” “California Gurls” debuted at #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 and soon hit #1. It was the first single released on Capitol Records to reach #1 in only four weeks since Bobbie Gentry’s “Ode To Billie Joe” in 1967. “California Gurls” reached #1 at adult pop radio and on the dance chart. It earned a Grammy Award nomination for Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals.
“Teenage Dream” – 2010
“Teenage Dream” is a song that looks back to earlier years in life to help explain the current giddiness in a love relationship. The power pop arrangement garnered strong critical acclaim and became Katy Perry’s third #1 pop smash. “Teenage Dream” set a new record for being the most added song in one week on radio stations in the US. It earned her third Grammy Award nomination for Best Female Pop Vocal. “Teenage Dream” was used in the hit TV show Glee to introduce the character Blaine Anderson played by Darren Criss. The Glee version of the song was also a top 10 pop hit. Many critics listed “Teenage Dream” as one of the best singles of the year.
“Firework” – 2010
Katy Perry pulled out the empowerment stops for her single “Firework.” It was co-written by StarGate and Ester Dean. Katy Perry considers the song one of her favorites due to the inspirational message in the lyrics. “Firework” was the third consecutive #1 hit single from the album making Katy Perry the first female artist to accomplish that feat in over a decade. It swept to #1 across adult pop and adult contemporary radio, the dance chart, and the Billboard Hot 100. The song was nominated for the Grammy Award for Record of the Year. Katy Perry dedicated the accompanying music video to the It Gets Better Project supporting LGBT youth. An open casting call for the video drew 38,000 applicants.
“E.T.” featuring Kanye West (2011)
Katy Perry’s song about falling in love with a foreigner was her most unusual and adventurous single to date. It is influenced by the dance music genre dubstep. “E.T.” was first released as a promotional single including only Katy Perry’s vocals. For the official single, Kanye West’s rap was added providing another dimension to the record although it was criticized by some. “E.T.” set a new record for most mainstream pop radio plays in one week. It took only five weeks to hit #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 making the ninth album to generate four #1 pop hit singles. “E.T.” also topped the dance chart. The heavily stylized music video was directed by Floria Sigismondi.
“Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.)” – 2011
The catchy “Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.)” takes a humorous look at weekend debauchery. Katy Perry says she was inspired to write the song after an experience running naked with her friends through a park. A high profile music video featuring Darren Criss, Kenny G, Corey Feldman, Debbie Gibson, and more, as well as a remix with Missy Elliott helped give the song a big push in getting it to #1 on the Billboard Hot 100. The primary inspirations for the music video were director John Hughes and his film Sixteen Candles. The #1 charting feat made Katy Perry the first woman to have five #1 singles from one album and tied Michael Jackson among solo artists. He first accomplished the feat with the album Bad. “Last Friday Night” hit #1 at mainstream pop, adult pop radio, and on the dance chart.
“The One That Got Away” – 2011
Katy Perry’s sound turned more serious and wistful on this sixth single from Teenage Dream. It references both Radiohead and the relationship of June Carter and Johnny Cash. The accompanying music video includes Katy Perry made up as an elderly woman reminiscing about the past. Mexican actor Diego Luna portrays Katy Perry’s love interest in the music video. “The One That Got Away” hit #1 at mainstream pop and adult pop radio as well as the dance chart. However, it ended Katy Perry’s streak of five consecutive #1 hits on the Billboard Hot 100 by peaking at #3 on the chart.
“Part Of Me” – 2012
Although originally written in the wake of the end of Katy Perry’s relationship with Travie McCoy of the group Gym Class Heroes, “Part Of Me” was released following her divorce from husband Russell Brand causing many fans to think that experience was the subject of the song. However, Katy Perry had written the song much earlier. “Part Of Me” became the 20th song, and Katy Perry’s first, to debut at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100. It also topped the dance chart but failed to climb to #1 on any radio charts. The accompanying music video was directed by Ben Mor and filmed at the US Marines’ Camp Pendleton. Feminist author Naomi Wolf denounced the clip as military propaganda.
“Wide Awake” – 2012
“Wide Awake” was written specifically for Katy Perry’s film Katy Perry: Part Of Me. It was also included on the extended re-release of the Teenage Dream album. Katy Perry says the song was inspired by major life changes including her divorce from actor Russell Brand. The song received critical acclaim for its production and Katy Perry’s vocal performance. “Wide Awake” peaked at #2 on the US pop singles chart, and it became the final chapter in the massive commercial success of the Teenage Dream era. “Wide Awake” returned Katy Perry to the top of both mainstream pop and adult pop radio charts, but it failed to top the Billboard Hot 100 peaking at #2.
“Roar” – 2013
Pop fans eagerly awaited the release of “Roar,” the first single from Katy Perry’s album. It took only three weeks to reach #1 and earned Katy Perry her best single sales week selling over 557,000 copies in its first full week of release. A lush tropical-themed music video accompanied the song and was filmed at the Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanic Garden. Controversy was raised over perceived similarities between the sound of “Roar” and Sara Bareilles’ “Brave,” but Sara Bareilles put an end to perceptions of conflict between the performers. “Roar” earned Grammy Award nominations for Song of the Year and Best Pop Solo Performance. It reached #1 across the mainstream pop, adult pop, and adult contemporary radio charts as well as topping the dance chart.
“Unconditionally” – 2013
Released as the second single from “Unconditionally” became somewhat of a commercial disappointment for Katy Perry. It followed nine consecutive top 3 charting hits and only climbed to #14. However, it did become her 12th consecutive #1 dance hit. The song was inspired by the singer’s experiences working for UNICEF and seeing unconditional love that children had for each other on a humanitarian visit to Madagascar. Katy Perry’s American Music Awards live performance of “Unconditionally” generated controversy when she appeared dressed as a Japanese geisha. She was accused of racism and cultural appropriation.
“Dark Horse” featuring Juicy J – 2013
As on her hit “E.T.,” Katy Perry once again embraced an upward trending music genre. This time it was trap and again she scored with a massive pop hit. “Dark Horse” went to #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for four weeks and spent 22 weeks, Katy Perry’s longest span, inside the top 10. It also topped the dance chart. “Dark Horse” became Katy Perry’s first single to spend a full year on the Billboard Hot 100. The elaborate music video was directed by Matthew Cullen. The song received a Grammy Award nomination for Best Pop Duo/Group Performance.
“This Is How We Do” – 2014
“This Is How We Do,” the fourth single from Katy Perry’s album takes a humorous look at the lifestyles of young adults. It became her 15th consecutive #1 hit on the dance chart and climbed into the top 25 of the Billboard Hot 100. The accompanying pop art music video was directed by New Zealand’s Joel Kefali, best known for his work with Lorde.