You’ll forgive me for not endorsing Katy Perry the same way I do Kylie Minogue, because some things have always bugged me about Ms. Perry’s pop persona: I find the little-girl-dolled-up-in-sexy-candy-costuming shtick sleazy without wit, her transition from Christian pop ingenue to bicurious bopper more than a little insincere, and her comments about mixing sex and spirituality (“I am sensitive to… Lady Gaga putting a rosary in her mouth. I think when you put sex and spirituality in the same bottle and shake it up, bad things happen.”) completely puritanical and lame. Say what you will about Ke$ha, but she’s never been pretentious. I’m Team Tik Tok every time.
That said, on the occasion of Ms. Perry’s 28th birthday, I’m game to rediscover the seven reasons it’s OK to call yourself a fan. Raise up your firework and follow along.
1. “California Gurls” was the definitive summer anthem of 2010.
2010 was a great year for summer radio. La Roux gave us “Bulletproof,” Ke$ha threw down “Your Love is My Drug,” Kylie Minogue released the glistening Aphrodite album, and Lady Gaga thrilled us with one of her great underrated singles, “Alejandro.” But the biggest hit that summer was Katy Perry’s “California Gurls,” a perfect sherbet blast of Golden Coast exaltation. Best of all, it spawned the YouTube classic “California Gays.”
2. Her undisputed best video, “Waking Up in Vegas”
The girl has screen presence. She mastered her “glamor girl-gone-hot mess” shtick with this decadent Caesar’s Palace fiasco. Give it up for those big reaction shots, from the googly eyes at the blackjack table to the money-throwing sass she dishes in the hotel room.
3. “I Kissed a Girl” is funny.
The only thing I don’t love about “I Kissed A Girl,” Katy’s big debut in ’08, is the bridge where she tarnishes the song’s fabulous laissez-faire bisexuality with weird come-ons like “Us girls we are so magical / Soft skin, red lips, so kissable.” It’s a weird kind of objectification in a song that wants to promote same-sex naughtiness for everyone. Otherwise, the character of this #1 song is pretty damn funny; love the pleading tone of “I kissed a girl / just to try it!” I like to picture her wailing these words on the stand at the Nuremberg trials.