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Before coating the world with candy for Teenage Dream and championing "purposeful pop" for WitnessKaty Perry dubbed herself One of the Boys for the first of her many eras. That wasand she stood out from fellow pop newcomers like Lady Gaga and Taylor Swift with pure spunk: She was a year-old Californian dressed like a pin-up girl, puckered up with cherry chapstick, and acting so brave, drink in hand.
On the back of her debut single, "I Kissed a Girl," Perry became a pop princess, but her rise to superstardom wasn't without controversy. A decade after the song's debut, its complicated legacy is still being debated but, love it or hate it, it was the indisputable launchpad for one of the 21st century's biggest-selling artists.
Before "I Kissed a Girl," Perry had weathered a series of stalled attempts at stardom. At 16, the doe-eyed girl then known as Katheryn Hudson — the middle child of two Pentecostal pastors — released a Christian record that reportedly sold just copies. A year later, she trekked miles from Santa Barbara to L. She was ed and dropped from two major labels that unsuccessfully tried to mold her into the next Avril Lavigne, and it was around that time that Perry is widely quoted — in her concert film, Part of Mefor example — as saying, "I don't want to be the next anybody.
I just want to be the first Katy.
Finally, inshe scored a deal with Capitol Records. Anokute recalls meeting Perry as a cartoonish, confident character who was equal parts Betty Boop and Cali party girl. I'm Katy fucking Perry, I'm a fucking star! It wasn't a huge commercial success, but it did attract one of Perry's biggest idols, Madonna, who called the title track one of her favorite songs in a radio interview. With that co- in her corner, Perry got to work on her debut album, One of the Boys. She already had a few tracks written, like eventual single "Waking Up in Vegas," but it was a series of studio sessions with Max Martin and Dr.
Luke that would birth her first two hits. Both were stone-cold hits, and the only question was: Which would be her first single? There was a lot of insecurity about it," Anokute said. I'm not saying things would've been different if we went with 'Hot N Cold' first, but Katy became a breakthrough artist because 'I Kissed a Girl' was her first single.
To get everyone else on board, the promotions team at Capitol started hyping the record for radio influencers like Rich Davis, the then-program director at Nashville's Top 40 station, The River. Certainly, at that time, it was provocative lyrically.
The River was the first radio station in the U. Anokute recalled, "Seven weeks from launching the record, it went to No. A star was born. With "I Kissed a Girl," Perry became the summer's biggest breakout star.
She capitalized on the popularity by ing Vans Warped Tour, where her pink guitars, flowery parasols, and polka-dotted rompers made her the odd girl out alongside punk acts like Paramore and All Time Low. It wasn't glamorous. She would do her own makeup on the bus and would try to make her shows interesting, like, 'Should I use this prop, should I come up wearing this?
She just worked. We were like, 'Just wait. With the single dominating the radio, it was time to shoot a video that would play up Perry's girl-kissing fantasy. That proved to be easier said than done for director Kinga Burza, who faced a tight budget and time constraints. She remembers rooms decked out in red velvet, dark wood paneling, mirrored ceilings, and, uh, "unexplained stains. Miraculously, the video was shot in one day: a tight turnaround made possible by a couple key factors.
For one, Perry "nailed each take," according to her director. And for another, the singer recruited her own friends, including a pre-fame Keshaas her corset-wearing co-stars, giving the set a "nice family vibe," according to Burza. To Burza's credit, the video was sexy without being sleazy: a line the director was adamant about toeing carefully. She wanted to capture I kissed a girl release burlesque fantasy through a "voyeuristic lens," hinting at "something sexy but forbidden.
But while the playful video was racking up views, the song itself was at the center of a much more serious conversation. The reaction to "I Kissed a Girl" was "polarizing," Anokute said. Though the single was dominating the charts — topping the Hot for seven weeks straight — it was alienating certain parts of the country. Davis said, "I remember getting complaint calls when we started playing it. You have to remember, it wasand people just didn't talk about it; certainly not like today. Some people were just not ready to hear that. At the same time, Perry was being targeted by ultra-conservative groups.
Molinari recalls seeing her face emblazoned on billboards that read "Katy Perry is going to hell," and hearing her song being analyzed on Fox News. I didn't see a lot of acceptance in music and entertainment.
I think for the youth, it was like, 'Finally, someone said it! I can experiment and it's fine. Even now, Perry has a complicated relationship with "I Kissed a Girl. In recent memory, Demi Lovato winked at bisexuality in " Cool for the Summer ," Halsey duetted with Lauren Jauregui on the romantic "Strangers," and Hayley Kiyoko shared her lesbian experiences on songs like " Curious.
I speak my truths, and I paint my fantasies into these little bite-size pop songs. For instance, I kissed a girl and I liked it. Truth be told, I did more than that.
Not only that, but it launched the Katy Perry we know today: a bona fide pop titan, thanks to a string of subsequent No. Getty Images Before coating the world with candy for Teenage Dream and championing "purposeful pop" for WitnessKaty Perry dubbed herself One of the Boys for the first of her many eras. Getty Images.I kissed a girl release
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