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Katy Perry started off 2011 on top of the pop world—in a semi-literal sense, given that her "Firework" was the year's first chart-topper—and managed to stay there for the rest of the year. With a steady stream of record-breaking hit singles and accompanying videos, as well as a smash international tour, a huge award-show presence and even a blockbuster flick to her credit, the pop world was Katy's candyland in 2011. She might not have the Idol-approved pipes of Adele, the artistic ambitions of Gaga or the sense of chic of Rihanna, but she might be the best pure pop star out right now, and don't be surprised if when you think about early-'10s pop years down the road, it's Katy's name that pops up before any of the others. For those reasons, Katy is our #1 artist of the year. Read through our year-recapping slideshow to remind yourself why, and again, check out the the rest our Artist of the Year slideshows here.
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Feb. 1: Who You Calling "Bearcunt"?
After Rihanna officially starts tweeting at the beginning of the year, Katy offers her a warm welcome to the bluebird: "Welcome to the social networking family of TMI's, emo tweets & no she didn'ts! :) BeaRcunT!" The final word in her greeting sets off alarms in a few places, but it is later explained (sort of)—"“Bare” means “a lot of” or “to a great extent” and “cunt” is the Bajan equivalent of “shit." Rihanna puts it simply: "It's a Bajan ting!"
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Feb. 7: Oh, Honey
Katy makes her sitcom debut—playing someone besides herself, anyway—on the "Oh, Honey" episode of How I Met Your Mother. Perry plays the titular "Honey" (not her real name, which no one can remember), a sweet and disturbingly easily duped hookup partner of Barney's. As far as pop star HIMYM cameos go, Katy far outpaces Britney Spears' turn as a deranged secretary—not saying much perhaps, but still.
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Feb. 13: Katy Sings for the "Valentine Lovers" at the Grammys
At pop music's biggest night, Katy goes off the board with her performance, selecting to perform "Not Like the Movies"—one of the only songs on Teenage Dream not to be released as a single by the end of the year. Of course, it being so close to Valentine's Day, Katy can't resist transitioning to young-love anthem "Teenage Dream" by the end, even getting Nicole Kidman to sing along in the process. "This past Monday, I had the pleasure of having sex with [Katy]," brags How I Met Your Mother co-star Neil Patrick Harris in her introduction. "It left me exhausted, aroused, and more than a little confused."
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Feb. 28: Katy Does It For the Kids At the Oscars
Katy's inspirational self-confidence anthem "Firework" was always aimed towards the kids, but the point was writ large at the post-Oscars ceremonies in February, when Perry took the stage with the P.S. 22 Chorus from Staten Island, known for their covers of contemporary pop songs, to perform the chart-topper. Even Katy would have to admit that she was outshined a little by her adorable co-stars, but somehow we doubt she really minded.
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Mar. 31: Katy and Kanye Go Intergalactic
"E.T." is plucked as the fourth single off Teenage Dream, and when Kanye West hops on the radio version, the track officially goes interstellar. For the video, Perry and director Floria Sigismondi rightly decide the most obvious route is the best one, making up Katy in Avatar blue and jetting her into outer space, with Kanye co-starring as her "big-headed asstronaut." The song becomes Katy's fourth straight chart-topper just a couple days later.
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Apr. 10: "I Said Tickle Me, Bitch!" The Triple-X Trailer for "Katy Pervy"
You know you're having a good year when they're marketing porn around your fame and sex appeal. In April, the brain trust over at Goodnight Media releases the trailer for "Katy Pervy," a triple-X flick seemingly based around a very loose and lascivious interpretation of Katy's infamous Sesame Street appearance. Russell Gland, Lady Gagger, Rihandjob and Ka$$ha all co-star in one of the year's most ingenious viral videos, though somehow our copy of the movie still hasn't arrived in the mail yet. (Damn nosy mailmen.)
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May 5: "My Career is Like an Artichoke"
Katy gets the cover on the June Vanity Fair, wearing a lovely strapless golden dress, with the subhead "More than meets the eye!" underneath. What more, exactly? “My career is like an artichoke,” Katy explains. “People might think that the leaves are tasty and buttered up and delicious, and they don't even know that there's something magical hidden at the base of it. There's a whole other side [of me] that people didn't know existed.” Yum.
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May 19: Female Pop Star, 26, Hates Carnations and Being Looked At in Rearview
With her California Dreams tour well underway, The Smoking Gun gets its hands on the rider that Katy has for the tour. Some of the more notable items include a 23-point policy concerning her drivers, principally about looking at her in the rearview mirror (as in, don't do it), and about including carnations in her dressing room (as in, REALLY REALLY don't do it). We're definitely with Katy on one thing: The necessity of Snyder's of Hanover Honey Mustard & Onion pretzels. Those things are GOOD.
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Jun. 8: Hanson, Kenny G, Rebecca Black and the Debut of Kathy Beth Terry
For her fifth single off Teenage Dream, Katy comes out with her biggest video yet—an epic retelling of "Last Friday Night," complete with shoe vomit, mustache-waxing, and more cameos than a '70s disaster flick. Kenny G, the Hanson brothers, a couple Glee cast members, and of course, Katy's sister in "Friday"-dom, Rebecca Black, all make appearances, along with Katy's nerdy (and weirdly '80s) alternate identity, Kathy Beth Terry. Before all is said and done, Kathy Beth has her own Twitter account—with almost 200k followers to this day.
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Apr. 4: Kitty Purry, Everybody!!
In a rare spell of not playing around on Twitter with her fellow female pop stars, Katy finds a moment to share her love of her new cat, Kitty Purry. In addition to tweeting pics of the two kindred spirits snuggling, Katy also links to a pic of Kitty "in her Shark bed being a boss!" It's hard to argue with the assessment.
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Jul. 29: Katy Goes All the Way Blue in Film Debut
Katy likes her blue hair from the "California Gurls" video so much that she decides to go the whole nine with it in her feature-length film debut, The Smurfs. Katy is rewarded the plum voice role of Smurfette—though admittedly, the selection for female roles in Smurfverse is not fantastic—and the movie is a hit, making $144 million in the US and over half a billion internationally. "I kissed a smurf and I liked it!" Smurfette squeals in one particularly on-the-nose scene.
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Aug. 18: "Last Friday Night" Puts Katy in the History Books
Before August, only one artist had ever scored five #1 singles off the same album, and he had the initials MJ. (Only five singles away, Mike Jones.) Katy Perry joined that most exclusive of company this summer with "Last Friday Night," her fifth single off Teenage Dream, and the fifth to reach the chart's summit—an achievement so historical that she got her own specifically commissioned award at the AMAs for it. Current single "The One That Got Away" is looking to etch Katy's names in the books by her lonesome, though as of posting, she's still three spots away from that kind of immortality.
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Nov. 11: Katy Goes for the Emotional Aorta in "The One That Got Away"
The half-dozen video mark for most artists would be the time when they start phoning it in, but instead Katy enlists Y Tu Mama Tambien's Diego Luna and Fleetwood Mac's Stevie Nicks—the latter just to do the voiceover for the trailer!—for her clip for "The One That Got Away." The tearjerking vid features car crashes, old-woman makeup and a whole lot of sepia-toned nostalgia over a very emotional five minutes. We would've settled for a California Dreams tour promotional video, but damn.
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Aug. 28: The VMAs Can Deny Katy No More
Katy Perry went into the '11 VMAs with a career 0-fer at the ceremonies, despite a truckful of nominations for smash hits like "I Kissed a Girl," Hot n Cold" and "California Gurls." With ten nominations to her credit this time around, though, the shutout was destined to end, and took home three Moonmen, two for "E.T." (Best Special Effects and Best Collaboration) and one for "Firework" (Video of the Year). Katy also made headlines at the show for her geometric costume, which took a look at the wardrobes in her nominated videos and went "Nah, I can go way further."
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Sep. 19: The End of a Billboard Era
In June of 2010, Katy's "California Gurls" debuted at #2 on the Billboard Hot 100, and for the 69 weeks afterwards, there wasn't a single Hot 100 that didn't have at least one Katy Perry single in its top ten. Katy's incredible streak easily shattered the previous longest consecutive stay in the chart's top tier—Ace of Base, who stuck around for 48 weeks in '93-'94—until, inevitably, "Last Friday Night" slipped out of the top ten in September, ending the historical run. She wasn't gone long, though—"The One That Got Away" kicked off a new streak for Katy a couple weeks back.
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Oct. 5: Katy Goes All "Chicago" for David LaChapelle
For a photo shoot advertising ghd, the hairstyling brand that she sponsors, Katy hooks up with famed fashion photographer David LaChapelle for a classic '20s flapper look. Posing on a fire escape in a feather boa and frilly dress, and also as the Evil Queen from Snow White with a sinister-looking apple, Katy appears more than ready to murder her husband and write a tango about it. (Let's be honest—Russ had it coming all along.)
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Oct. 25: Who Wants Birthday Cake??
During a birthday gig in Belfast, cast and crew come out on stage to wish Katy a happy 27th, bringing her out a birthday cake in the process. Katy does the only logical thing with the cake, candles and icing and all—she takes a running start and hurls it into the audience. Hey, you stand up front at a Katy Perry show, you gotta expect to get iced a little.
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Oct. 9: California Nightmares
Katy dresses up for Halloween a couple weeks early at Knott's Farm in California. She tries to go the scary route with some classic skeleton makeup, but can't resist giving herself a cute cat nose and and pretty eyelashes and whatnot. Some people just don't do ugly all that well.
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Dec. 10: Katy Becomes BFFs with Matt Damon and Val Kilmer on SNL
Katy closes out her epic 2011 with a guest-hosting stint on Saturday Night Live, receiving imitations from Kristen Wiig, Andy Samberg and Bill Hader, and playing Pippa Middleton and pop peers Christina Aguilera and Florence Welch (hah) herself. Most memorably, however, Katy pals up with Andy Samberg, homeless Matt Damon, and crazy scientist Val Kilmer in the week's surreal, disturbing and surreally, disturbingly catchy digital short "Best Friends." Nothing better way to close out your year on top than with time-travel, meth, Russian Roulette and bird-men abominations, apparently.