Consider Katy Perry--who, a few years before her rapid rise to stardom, was best known as "the girlfriend of that guy from Gym Class Heroes." Now, Perry sells out stadiums. She's gotten so popular that she's performing at the Nokia Theatre in LA for three nights in a row this weekend before moving on to another SoCal performance in San Diego. What makes this young songstress such a hit?
A mainstream artist's image is as important to CD sales as his or her actual music. Songwriting skill isn't as much of a differentiating factor as image, especially for female artists, who come in a range of industry-crafted types.
There's Kreayshawn and Nicki Minaj, bad bitches who've won exclusive access to the boy's club with their ball-busting lyrics and lady swag ("I've got the swag and it's pumping out my ovaries" Kreayshawn raps on "Gucci Gucci." "You may be the king, but watch the queen conquer," Nicki spits on Kanye's "Monster"); the ultra-femmes Beyonce and Rihanna--paragons of female sexuality; robotic party-sluts Ke$ha and Britney Spears (the latter of which is so fake that you can see the producer's marionette strings); Lady Gaga whose over-the-top shtick appeals to freaks and geeks alike; and Taylor Swift, who would have every girl believe that romance is like Romeo and Juliet.
By comparison, Katy Perry's somewhat of an enigma. Her songs range from sexy ("I Kissed a Girl") to heartbreaking ("Thinking of You") to bizarre ("E.T."). Even more intriguing is her appearance, which generally errs on the side of girly-girl cute, but as we all learned in the "T.G.I.F" video (below), Perry has no qualms about nerding it up. And it even seems to our pleasant surprise that she's enjoying it.
The California girl was born to humble Christian pastor parents and had a wholesome upbringing rife with gospel music, prayer and swing dancing (I shit you not). Though her image (and music) has gotten sexier over the years, Perry's morals seem to have remained intact--she's mentioned God a number of times on Twitter--and rocks a Jesus tattoo on her wrist.
Not that religious folk are the only company she keeps--hubby Russell Brand (a comedian) and tour opener Robyn (Swedish synthpopper) illustrate her taste for the unusual (and unusually talented). Rather than shack up with an actor with conventional good looks (a la Taylor Swift), Perry opted for personaility over runway-ready--which, for one of the hottest pop stars in Hollywood, is a testament to the singer's maturity. And snagging Robyn--one the favorites at this year's Coachella music fest--well, that was just good business sense.
Perry is also remarkably well spoken (see her talk about her upbringing and music in the Rolling Stone video below), and is usually in the spotlight for the right reasons--in a time when pop stars are given attention for donning a meat dress or having an unfortunate run-in with a boyfriend (or a suitcase)--her slate is remarkably clean (minus that one "embarrassing" make-up less Twitter pic, but that only served to further humanize her). Afterall, you can attract more flies with honey than vinegar, and the Santa Barbara native knows her sweets.
So, Katy Perry--with her unusual moral upbringing, good looks (it helps that she's not overwhelmingly attractive--she does, afterall, share Zoe Deschanel's face) and soft-spoken maturity--has struck gold by working the road least travelled: normalcy. Don't get me wrong, Katy isn't the pinnacle of either average or normal. She's too perfectly coiffed and wears a bit (a lot) more makeup than the average Jane. She is, however, Hollywood's closest substitute. Afterall, most girl's can't afford to wish for storybook romance or Riri's killer legs--Perry, however, is deliciously, refreshingly relatable.
Normal (unfortunately) hasn't been in vogue since Madonna beat it and Lady Gaga left it for dead. But there's nothing wrong with living life fully without the fringes of extremity--and I, for one, am happy to welcome normal's reappearance in the mainstream.
videos at the source