Posted byon 08/28/2012 at 12:31 PM
The Popdust Files: 2012 popdust 40
#4 Katy Perry
2011 ranking: 5
The origin story of the artist born Katy Hudson goes like this: California girl breaks away from the confines of her parents’ strict, religious household, drifts around L.A.’s club scene and finally finds an audience that understands her voice. But at 27 she continues to evolve, shedding personas as she proves that her life’s no predictable fairytale. Having proven her ability to shatter sales records, Perry extended her reach into movies and television—in 3D!—while powering through rough relationships and laying intriguing new plans for the future. And her larger-than-life personality draws in new fans everyday, whether they’re looking for an inspirational kiss-offs or consequence-free fun.
Perry goes all out for her live performances, using everything from funny costumes to kooky choreography to guarantee a good time. In 2011, the massive California Dreams tour welcomed ticket-holders to a magical land known as “Candyfornia,” where onstage dance-offs competed with whipped cream launched into the sky.
But you don’t need to see her torpedo bras in person to appreciate Katy Perry: If there’s one thing she knows how to do, it’s sell singles. Teenage Dream has moved over 5.5 million copies to date, and spawned five No. 1s—”California Girls,” “Teenage Dream,” “E.T.,” “Firework,” “Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.)”—helping her become the first woman to achieve such a feat, and putting her in the company of Michael Jackson.
And while her upbeat style has helped propel her to the forefront of today’s pop, her music isn’t all about pyrotechnics and alter-egos. Her second album Teenage Dream featured “The One That Got Away,” a heart-stirring ode to love lost, with an accompanying music video that allowed her to show off a bit of her acting skills (and the power of mascara-wrecking tears).
At times, Perry’s life has imitated her art, with her personal struggles played out for all to see.
But like any true professional, she knows how to turn personal hardship into musical gold (even if she insists that “Part of Me” isn’t about a certain funny-talking ex).
Perry runs with an elite crowd, keeping showbiz BFFs who know how to scoop up their pal up and whisk her off to the beach at a moment’s notice.
Famous friends like these also enable duets arguably better than anything Beyoncé and Lady Gaga worked long and hard to come up with.
While the California native understands the importance of having fun, she continues to throw herself into her work, taking a page from Justin Bieber, Miley Cyrus and the Jonas Brothers and giving her fans access to even more parts of her—in 3D!—with the release of an official concert documentary.
More traditional acting roles may be next. There are rumors Katy will soon be playing Marilyn Monroe in a big-budget Broadway musical, but for now, she’s perfectly content throwing around beaver puns on FOX comedies and watching Robyn perform on SNL‘s late-night stage (while hanging with some of the Swede’s biggest fans backstage).
But music remains Katy’s first love. After a busy and emotionally draining year—not only did she divorce Russell Brand, she’s been Mayer-ed—Perry has plans to return to the studio, this time fostering emerging talent under her own independent record label and promising to get “dark” with her own material.
With proof that she can be a sex symbol, funny girl and a role model to those who’ve ever felt slightly out of place, such a back-to-basics approach to Katy’s third album will be interesting to watch unfold. With all that’s come before, we wouldn’t bet against her now.
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