Katy Perry’s Pop Report Card: We Grade Her 3 Albums, Ahead Of Her Super Bowl Performance

Jonathan Riggs | January 26, 2015 5:18 am

Even if Taylor Swift doesn’t sneak backstage to “Bad Blood” up the iconic whipped-cream-cannon bikini, Katy Perry’s Super Bowl Halftime Show will, undoubtedly, be Sunday’s sinfully sweet highlight.

So large does Perry’s shadow loom over pop culture, in fact, that it’s hard to believe that she’s only been famous since 2008, when her debut album, like countless pubescent boys’ voices after seeing her in the flesh, dropped. (Apologies to the 200 floor-length denim-skirted fans who bought the 2001 Katy Hudson Christian album and aren’t reading this anyway because the Internet is the devil’s playground.)

Whether you’re One of the Boys, a Teenage Dream or fresh out of Prism, let’s grade each of Katy Perry’s three studio albums to see how the world’s biggest TLC fan scores in Idolator’s Pop Report Card.


katy perry one of the boys

Bursting out of the gate — and multiple bustiers — Katy Perry may have played the innocent pop naif on her first date with the charts, but anyone actually paying attention could immediately tell that she was in on every joke. We were skeptical at first, but after charming her way into the public’s consciousness with “I Kissed A Girl,” a driving, glammy anthem about quasi-lesbian flirtation, she crushed all our resistance. Although she earned staying power with the hits “Waking Up In Vegas” and the too-sexy-for-Elmo “Hot N Cold,” the real and largely ignored story of One Of The Boys unfolds in several songs that Perry penned herself.

It’s one thing for a Stefani-voiced pop star to giggle about how “naughty” she is; it’s quite another to open your mainstream debut with the lyrics, “I saw a spider / I didn’t scream / ’cause I can belch the alphabet / just double-dog dare me.” The Greta Gremlin glamour isn’t an act: it’s who Perry really is and it’s exciting to see all the rough edges, clever songwriting and twisted sense of humor on display on deep cuts like “One Of The Boys,” “Mannequin,” “If You Can Afford Me” and the best remember-me-as-a-rebel song Avril Lavigne never recorded, “Fingerprints.”

She’s not always successful, though, and should be thankful every day that time has largely forgotten the set’s hype single “Ur So Gay.” (Although it is fun to imagine someone appropriately classy, say Susan Boyle, performing it during Perry’s future Kennedy Center Honors induction. “…penis!”) Still, even when One Of The Boys gets too brash or bratty,Perry obviously cares so deeply that her musical missteps — namely her limitations as a singer — only underscore how rare the best thing about her sound is: its large, beating heart. B