Katy Perry’s fourth album PRISM is available for purchase today, promising to be the aural light that will brighten any gloomy autumn. More or less a part of our lives since 2008, Perry is an interesting artist with an even more interesting background that now seems contradictory to the candy-coated persona she’s crafted.
With her name in the record books, Perry is a bankable Star with a successful team known for creating pop perfection. From her former flames to her fragrances, industry feuds, and the porn names she’s inspired, check out everything you need to know about KP, below.
A: Alter Ego
Like her contemporaries Lady Gaga and Beyoncé, Katy assumed the role of Kathy Beth Terry, an awkward yet enthusiastic high school student with an intense piece of headgear and dreams of hosting the party of the year. Terry was used as a stand-in for Perry in 2011’s “Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.)” music video, which featured appearances by Glee stars Darren Criss and Kevin McHale, viral sensation Rebecca Black, Kenny G, and ’80s icons Corey Feldman and Debbie Gibson. Prior to the release, Perry launched a social media campaign for Terry, tweeting and replying to fans as her alter ego. Kathy Beth Terry should not be confused with adult film parody “Katy Pervy”–although imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.
B: Brand, Russell
Perry’s always had a taste for men in showbiz, dating actor Johnny Lewis and musician Travie McCoy during the nascent days of her career (and even starring in the “Cupid’s Chokehold” music video by McCoy’s band Gym Class Heroes). Perry met British comedian Russell Brand while filming a cameo for Get Him To The Greek in 2009, and he made his intentions known during hosting stint at the MTV Video Music Awards that September: “Katy Perry didn’t win an award and she’s staying at the same hotel as me, so she’s gonna need a shoulder to cry on. So in a way, I’m the real winner tonight.” The two were married in India in December 2009, and seemed to be the ideal, if not slightly misfit, unofficial dark-haired couple of pop. After 14 months of marriage, Brand filed for divorce in December 2011. While Perry insists post-divorce songs like “Part Of Me” and “Wide Awake” were not inspired by Brand, their relationship–including conflicts and the dissolution of their marriage–is chronicled in her 2012 documentary, Katy Perry: Part of Me.
C: Cherry Chapstick
Perry’s 2008 breakthrough single, “I Kissed A Girl,” bragged about girl-on-girl action and pleasantly recalled the specific brand AND flavor her subject was wearing on her lips (“I kissed a girl and I liked it, the taste of her cherry Chapstick”). Whether or not listeners saw Perry’s exploits as attention-grabbing, it’s safe to say they remembered her preference for lip balm.
Perry recruited both Kanye West and Snoop Dogg for her seminal album, Teenage Dream, both of whom are greatly lauded hip-hop/pop crossover acts with monstrous solo careers. But she’s also the object of other artist’s desires. Perry is featured on boyfriend John Mayer’s “Who You Love,” off his 2013 album Paradise Valley. The couple that sings together…
Like other 21st century acts, Perry uses technology to her advantage, but there’s one form of modern technology that’s clearly her favorite: the emoji. Her love for the tiny, creative texting additions can be seen in the lyric video for “Roar” and frequent tweets to BFF Rihanna.
Throw it????throw it????, that’s how we ???? out. #immacomintogetyouRiRi
— Katy Perry (@katyperry) May 8, 2013
The third single off Teenage Dream became an anthem among millennials, reminding us that we should never, ever feel like a plastic bag. Thought to be inspirational and encouraging listeners to embrace their differences, Perry dedicated the music video to the It Gets Better Project. The song has gone six times platinum in the United States, won Video of the Year at the 2011 MTV Video Music Awards, and was nominated for Record of the Year and Best Pop Solo Performance at the 2012 Grammy Awards.
G: Gospel Rock
Raised in a Christian home by two Pentacostal pastors, Perry started out in the Christian music scene. Blond at the time, her first album, Katy Hudson, was released in 2001 by Red Hill Records. Perry was heralded for her songwriting on the album (which includes songs called “Trust In Me” and “Faith Won’t Fail”) and is the lone writer on four of the album’s 10 tracks.
H: Hudson, Katheryn
The birth name of the woman we call Katy Perry. After the release of her debut album, Perry assumed her mother’s maiden name as her stage name and has never looked back. Seeing her run around with actress Kate Hudson years later, we can only assume these two women bonded over having the same name.
I: Island Records
Now known as the Island Def Jam Music Group, Island Records signed Perry after she made the move away from Christian rock. Despite hooking up with Glen Ballard and aspiring to record in the style of her idol, Alanis Morissette, Perry was dropped by the label. She signed with Colubmia in 2004, but was dropped in 2006 after nearly completing a full album.
J: Jackson, Michael
Teenage Dream would quickly become the gift that kept on giving. With five No. 1 singles, Perry tied the King of Pop’s legendary record and became the first female artist to achieve such a feat on the Billboard Hot 100. Sixth single “The One That Got Away” peaked at No. 3 on the charts, making Perry the third artist to release six Top Five songs from the same album.
K: Katy Perry: Part of Me
Joining Miley Cyrus, Justin Bieber, and the Jonas Brothers, Perry welcomed cameras on her California Dreams world tour in 2011 for a 3D concert film. Everything from Perry’s origin story to her pre-show routine, colorful live act, and fan and family interaction was featured, including the aforementioned fall-out with then-husband Brand.
L: Luke, Dr.
If there’s been one svengali of sorts that was integral in launching Perry from a reformed church girl to a Top 40 powerhouse, it’s Dr. Luke. The 40-year-old writer-producer is responsible for some of her most successful tracks on all three of her mainstream albums, including “I Kissed A Girl,” “Teenage Dream, “California Gurls,” “Part of Me,” and “Roar.”
M: McKee, Bonnie
In addition to Dr. Luke, 29-year-old Bonnie McKee’s co-writing credits include “Part of Me,” “Wide Awake,” “Teenage Dream,” “Last Friday Night,” “California Gurls,” and PRISM tracks “Roar,” “Legendary Lovers,” “Birthday,” and “Ghost.” If Katy Perry had a fantasy draft before crafting her first pop smash, it’s obvious McKee and Dr. Luke went one and two. “It’s like the dream team. They push me the most, and also argue the most. It’s an emotional abuse session,” Perry said of her inner circle earlier this year, which also includes Max Martin and Greg Kurstin.
N: “Not Like The Movies”
Perry performed the Teenage Dream ballad at the 2011 Grammy Awards, floating high above her peers on an elevated swing, while footage from her wedding to Brand was displayed in the background.
O: One of the Boys
After being discarded by two major labels, Perry found a home at Capitol Records. Her 2008 release One of the Boys–technically her second album–was a commercial breakthrough that finally validated those years of hard work. The success of tracks like “I Kissed A Girl” and “Hot N Cold” confirmed her starpower and propelled her from L.A. scenester with grand aspirations to desirable pop performer capable of sountracking everyone’s summer.
True pop stars know the importance of side hustles. Perry released the first of her three fragrances in 2010 (followed by Meow in 2011 and Killer Queen in 2013). Since then, she’s scored endorsement deals with Proactiv, Pop Chips, and most recently, Cover Girl.
In 2012 rumors flew that Perry’s deeply religious parents were hard at work setting her up with NFL player Tim Tebow. Then the quarterback of the Denver Broncos, Tebow made a name for himself by winning the Heisman Trophy while at the University of Florida and speaking openly about his faith and missionary work. Perry played along with the idea by giving a shout-out to the quarterback at the NFL Honors pre-Super Bowl concert (“Hi Tim, my parents say, ’Hi'”) and dedicating her song “Peacock” to him. While it may have made for excellent tabloid fodder, Perry’s always preferred men with slightly rougher edges. Flash forward to 2013, when Tebow was released by the New York Jets and the New England Patriots. Bullet dodged?
R: Raising Hope
Perry made a guest appearance in a 2012 episode (“Single White Female”) during season two of the FOX sitcom. Shannon Woodward is a series regular as well as one of Perry’s best friends, who can be spotted out and about with the singer and in her viral lip dubs.
S: Sesame Street
Known for her ample assets, and the jewels that adorn them and/or materials that shoot out from within, Perry’s body caused problems for the legendary children’s program Sesame Street in 2010. Perry filmed a segment with Elmo, wearing a low cut dress many parents felt was inappropriate for the young audience. After releasing the clip online and withstanding an onslaught of criticism, Sesame Street opted not to include the segment on air. The controversy was later parodied by Saturday Night Live.
Perry made her feature film debut as a voice actor in 2011’s The Smurfs starring Neil Patrick Harris and Hank Azaria. A commercial success, she revisited her role as Smurfette in the 2013 sequel, and is slated for a third installment expected in 2015.
This On of the Boys track has yet to achieve the mainstream attention it deserves for its insensitive title and foul message (use “gay” as an insult, kids!). With her subsequent work against bullying, “Firework,” and praise from the Trevor Project, it appears Perry got a well-needed PR consultation before this could permanently damage her rising career. Still, there are those of us who’ll never forget (like, say, the internet).
Perry landed on the cover of the fashion bible in July 2013 (her first time!), and provided a revealing interview that shed light on her marriage to match the gorgeous photos. But the juiciest tidbit of all? Perry revealed that Brand broke up with her via text message: “Let’s just say I haven’t heard from him since he texted me saying he was divorcing me December 31, 2011.”
W: Warblers, The
The fictional, all-male show choir from Dalton Academy as seen on Glee. Led by Criss, the group made their debut on the FOX series performing “Teenage Dream” in November 2010. Their version of Perry’s track went on to become one of the most successful covers from the series.
X: X Factor, The
Perry served as a guest judge during the 2010 season of the Simon Cowell-helmed talent show that would feature future stars Cher Lloyd and One Direction. Perry witnessed the five members of 1D’s individual auditions, and even helped 1D’s Niall Horan get through to the next round when her peers weren’t so sure. Do you think he’s grateful?
I love you @katyperry ! Thank you! Ps . Will u marry me?
— Niall Horan (@NiallOfficial) October 21, 2013
Y: “Yes, bitch!”
As in “Oh, snap! Yes, bitch!” Perry’s response to the so-called “shade” thrown by media legend Barbara Walters. When Perry was late to a scheduled interview, Walters then compared her to the late Judy Garland–and the California Gurl couldn’t haven been more pleased. Get the story from Perry herself, as told to Billboard:
“I shouldn’t have done the interview: I was playing Madison Square Garden that same night, and I knew that the end of my marriage was coming. I was just exhausted and stressed,” Perry says. “I’d prepped everyone that I was running late, but Barbara showed up at the original time anyway. When I got there, I apologized immediately, but then she said to me, ’You know, I’ve only ever waited for one other person this long, and you know who that person was? Judy Garland. You know how she turned out, right?’ I was like, ’Oh, snap! Yes, bitch!’ I think it’s the coolest thing that Barbara Walters shaded me. I just couldn’t tell her as we were sitting down for a mega-interview, ’Hey, my marriage is falling apart. Give me a break.'”
Perry has always had a penchant for larger-than-life storytelling, bright colors, and loud accessories. Her jungle adventure in “Roar” is just the latest in a long relationship with animals, zebras making a strong case for being her favorite. Remember when she oh-so-casually showed up with one in the “Hot N Cold” video? Or wore this Jean-Charles De Castelbajac dress? Or dressed her band members up as zebras while performing on SNL? Oh, snap! Yes, bitch!
Katy Perry’s PRISM is out now.
[Photo Credit: Getty Images]