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


After breathlessly seducing us before prank-phone-calling our grandma and vanishing into the night, Perry twirled back into our lives and onto the charts with one of the most remarkable albums of this century so far. Teenage Dream is the ultimate pop text as well as the key to what we talk about when we talk about Katy Perry: without losing any of the youthful exuberance and fearlessness of her first set, she grows up and delivers an album of impeccably crafted sugar rushes that evoke the truest and most universal of adult feelings.

It’s hard to think of another album that offers so much for so many with such generosity. Self-aware enough to cut the sweetness before it gets cloying — hello, middle-finger-waving gummy bears of “California Gurls” — yet earnest enough to belt out the downright bizarre lyrics of “Firework” with such conviction that they become genuinely moving, Perry is at the peak of her powers here. It’s no wonder she tied Michael Jackson’s record of five #1 singles from one album, although in a just world, the did-she-just-say-that dirty joke “Peacock” would’ve been the sixth.

However, the best song of the album, Perry’s career and — according to this Katycat at least — of the modern era is the title track. Even as it invokes all the ephemeral rushes of pop music and life — the thrill of youth, of first love, of a future full of opportunity and adventures — the music and lyrics both speed forward as if they know better and that this “Teenage Dream,” no matter our age, might be all we (yes, even you, Darren Criss) ever get.

Although the addition of jams “Wide Awake” and shoulda-been-the-American Sniper-theme “Part of Me” on Teenage Dream: The Complete Confection was tasty, there really wasn’t a need. The album had already succeeded because it showcased real growth and an innate understanding of what Perry’s strengths were, without losing her quirkiness. By replacing the sneering of One Of The Boys with so much affection for both the music and those who will hear it, Katy Perry’s charisma is finally on full display on Teenage Dream: a kind, awkward and witty weirdo who woke up in the body and wardrobe of a Wild West saloon girl and wants nothing more than for us to come along. Kathy Beth Terry, we are youA+