Katheryn Elizabeth Hudson (born October 25, 1984), known professionally as Katy Perry, is an American singer, songwriter, and television judge. After singing in church during her childhood, she pursued a career in gospel music as a teenager. Perry signed with Red Hill Records and released her debut studio album Katy Hudson under her birth name in 2001, which was commercially unsuccessful. She moved to Los Angeles the following year to venture into secular music after Red Hill ceased operations and she subsequently began working with producers Glen Ballard, Dr. Luke, and Max Martin. After adopting the stage name 'Katy Perry' and being dropped by The Island Def Jam Music Group and Columbia Records, she signed a recording contract with Capitol Records in April 2007.
Perry rose to fame in 2008 with her second album, One of the Boys, a pop rock record containing the controversial U.S number one song "I Kissed a Girl" and "Hot n Cold". Three subsequent albums have topped the U.S. Billboard 200. The disco-influenced Teenage Dream (2010) spawned five chart-topping U.S. Billboard Hot 100 singles–"California Gurls", "Teenage Dream", "Firework", "E.T.", and "Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.)" — a record tying her with Michael Jackson's Bad. Its follow-up record Prism (2013) was inspired by her divorce, and incorporates pop and dance along with themes of self-reflection, everyday life, and relationships. With the music videos for its chart-topping songs "Roar" and "Dark Horse", Perry became the first artist to have multiple videos reach one billion views on Vevo. 2017's electropop Witness featured a political subtext and a theme of liberation. Her sixth studio album Smile followed in 2020.
Perry has nine U.S. Billboard Hot 100 number one singles and has received various awards, including four Guinness World Records, five Billboard Music Awards, five American Music Awards, a Brit Award, and a Juno Award. She has been included in the annual Forbes lists of highest-earning women in music from 2011 to 2019. Her estimated net worth as of 2016 is $125 million. Perry is one of the world's best-selling music artists, having sold over 18 million albums and 125 million singles worldwide. In film, she released an autobiographical documentary titled Katy Perry: Part of Me in 2012, and voiced Smurfette in the 2011 film The Smurfs and its sequel in 2013. Her Super Bowl halftime show performance is the most watched in history. Perry also began serving as a judge on American Idol in 2018.
Life and career
1984–1998: Early life
Katheryn Elizabeth Hudson was born on October 25, 1984, in Santa Barbara, California, to Pentecostal pastors Mary Christine (née Perry) and Maurice Keith Hudson. Her parents are born again Christians, each having turned to religion after a "wild youth". Perry has English, German, Irish, and Portuguese ancestry. Through her mother, she is a niece of film director Frank Perry. She has a younger brother named David, who is a singer, and an older sister, Angela.
From ages three to 11, Perry often moved across the country as her parents set up churches before settling again in Santa Barbara. Growing up, she attended religious schools and camps, including Paradise Valley Christian School in Arizona and Santa Barbara Christian School in California during her elementary years. Her family struggled financially, sometimes using food stamps and eating food from the food bank which also fed the congregation at Perry's parents' church.
Growing up, Perry and her siblings were not allowed to eat the cereal Lucky Charms as the word "luck" reminded their mother of Lucifer, and had to call deviled eggs "angeled eggs". Perry primarily listened to gospel music, as secular music was generally discouraged in the family's home. She discovered popular music through CDs she sneaked from her friends. While not strictly identifying as religious, Perry has stated, "I pray all the time – for self-control, for humility." Wanting to be like her sister Angela, Perry began singing by practicing with her sister's cassette tapes. She performed the tracks in front of their parents, who let her take vocal lessons as Angela was at the time. She began training at age nine, and was incorporated into her parents' ministry, singing in church from ages nine to 17. At 13, Perry was given her first guitar for her birthday, and publicly performed songs she wrote. She tried to "be a bit like the typical Californian girl" while growing up, and started rollerskating, skateboarding, and surfing as a teenager. Perry's brother David described her as a tomboy during her adolescence. She took dancing lessons and learned how to swing, Lindy Hop, and jitterbug.
1999–2006: Career beginnings and Katy Hudson
Perry completed her General Educational Development (GED) requirements at age 15, during her first year of high school, and left Dos Pueblos High School to pursue a musical career. She briefly had music lessons in facilities rented from the Music Academy of the West. Her singing caught the attention of rock artists Steve Thomas and Jennifer Knapp from Nashville, Tennessee, who brought her there to improve her writing skills. In Nashville, she started recording demos and learned how to write songs and play guitar. Perry signed with Red Hill Records and recorded her debut album, a contemporary Christian record titled Katy Hudson, which was released on March 6, 2001. She also went on tour that year as part of Phil Joel's Strangely Normal Tour and embarked on other performances of her own in the United States. While Katy Hudson received positive reviews from critics, it was commercially unsuccessful and sold an estimated 200 copies before the label ceased operations in December. Transitioning from gospel music to secular music, Perry started writing songs with producer Glen Ballard, and moved to Los Angeles at age 17. In 2003, she briefly performed as Katheryn Perry to avoid confusion with actress Kate Hudson. She later adopted the stage name 'Katy Perry', using her mother's maiden name.
In 2004, Perry signed to Ballard's label, Java, which was then affiliated with The Island Def Jam Music Group. She began work on a solo record, but the record was shelved after Java was dropped. Ballard then introduced Perry to Tim Devine, an A&R executive at Columbia Records, and she was signed as a solo artist. Over the course of the next two years, Perry wrote and recorded material for her Columbia debut, and worked with songwriters including Desmond Child, Greg Wells, Butch Walker, Scott Cutler, Anne Preven, The Matrix, Kara DioGuardi, Max Martin, and Dr. Luke. In addition, after Devine suggested that songwriting team The Matrix become a "real group", Perry recorded with them. Perry was dropped from Columbia in 2006 as her record neared completion. After the label dropped her, she worked at an independent A&R company called Taxi Music.
Perry had minor success prior to her breakthrough. One of the songs she had recorded for her album with Ballard, "Simple", was featured on the soundtrack to the 2005 film The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. She provided backing vocals on Mick Jagger's song "Old Habits Die Hard", which was included on the soundtrack to the 2004 film Alfie. In September 2004, Blender named Perry "The Next Big Thing". She recorded background vocals on P.O.D.'s single "Goodbye for Now" and was featured at the end of its music video in 2006. That year, Perry also appeared in the music video for "Learn to Fly" by Carbon Leaf, and played the love interest of her then-boyfriend, Gym Class Heroes lead singer Travie McCoy, in the band's music video for "Cupid's Chokehold".
2007–2009: Breakthrough with One of the Boys
After Columbia dropped Perry, Angelica Cob-Baehler, then a publicity executive at the label, brought Perry's demos to Virgin Records chairman Jason Flom. Flom was convinced that she could be a breakthrough star and she was signed to Capitol Records in April 2007. The label arranged for her to work with Dr. Luke to add an "undeniable smash" to her existing material. Perry and Dr. Luke co-wrote the songs "I Kissed a Girl" and "Hot n Cold" for her second album One of the Boys. A campaign was started with the November 2007 release of the video to "Ur So Gay", a song aimed at introducing her to the music market. A digital EP of the same name was also released that month. Madonna helped publicize the song by praising it on the JohnJay & Rich radio show in April 2008, stating "Ur So Gay" was her "favorite song" at the time. In March 2008, Perry made a cameo appearance as a club singer in the Wildfire episode "Life's Too Short" and appeared as herself during a photo shoot that June on The Young and the Restless for the show's magazine Restless Style.
Perry released her first single with Capitol, "I Kissed a Girl", on April 28, 2008, as the lead single from One of the Boys. The first station to pick up the song was WRVW in Nashville, who were inundated with enthusiastic calls the first three days they played it. The track reached number one on the US Billboard Hot 100. "I Kissed a Girl" created controversy among both religious and LGBT groups. The former criticized its homosexual theme, while the latter accused her of using bi-curiosity to sell records. In response to speculation that her parents opposed her music and career, Perry told MTV that they had no problems with her success. One of the Boys, released on June 17, 2008, garnered mixed critical reviews and reached number nine on the US Billboard 200. The album went on to sell 7 million copies worldwide. "Hot n Cold" was released the following September and became the album's second successful single, reaching number three on the Billboard Hot 100 while topping charts in Germany, Canada, the Netherlands and Austria. Later singles "Thinking of You" and "Waking Up in Vegas" were released in 2009 and reached the top 30 of the Hot 100. The Matrix's self-titled debut album, which Perry had recorded with the band in 2004, was released onto iTunes on January 27, 2009, as a result of her solo success.
After finishing the 2008 Warped Tour, Perry hosted the 2008 MTV Europe Music Awards in November 2008, where she won the award for Best New Act. At the 2009 Brit Awards, she also won the award for International Female Solo Artist. Perry embarked on her first headlining world tour, the Hello Katy Tour, from January to November 2009 to support One of the Boys. On August 4, 2009, she performed as opening act for one date of No Doubt's 2009 Summer Tour. Perry also hosted the 2009 MTV Europe Music Awards in November 2009, becoming the first person to host two consecutive ceremonies of the European awards. On July 22, 2009, Perry recorded a live album titled MTV Unplugged, which featured acoustic performances of five tracks from One of the Boys as well as one new song, "Brick by Brick", and a cover of Fountains of Wayne's "Hackensack". It was released on November 17, 2009. Perry also appeared on two singles with other artists; she was featured on a remix of Colorado-based band 3OH!3's song "Starstrukk" in September 2009, and on a duet with Timbaland entitled "If We Ever Meet Again", from his album Shock Value II, three months later. The Guinness World Records recognized her in its 2010 edition as the "Best Start on the U.S. Digital Chart by a Female Artist", for digital single sales of over two million copies.
After her relationship with Travis McCoy ended in December 2008, Perry met her future husband Russell Brand in the summer of 2009 while filming a cameo appearance for his film Get Him to the Greek. Her scene, in which the two kiss, does not appear in the film. She began dating Brand after meeting him again that September at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards. The couple became engaged on December 31, 2009, while vacationing in Rajasthan, India.
2010–2012: Teenage Dream and first marriage
After serving as a guest judge on American Idol, Perry released "California Gurls" featuring Snoop Dogg on May 7, 2010. The song was the lead single from her third studio album, Teenage Dream, and reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100 in June. She also served as a guest judge on British The X Factor later that month before releasing the album's second single, "Teenage Dream", in July. "Teenage Dream" reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100 in September. Released on August 24, 2010, Teenage Dream debuted at number one on the Billboard 200, and received mixed reviews from music critics. It has since sold 6 million copies worldwide. Teenage Dream would go on to win the 2011 Juno Award for International Album of the Year. In October, "Firework" was released as the album's third single. It became the album's third consecutive number one on the Billboard Hot 100 on December 8, 2010.
"E.T." featuring Kanye West was released as the fourth single from Teenage Dream on February 16, 2011. It topped the Billboard Hot 100 for five non-consecutive weeks, making Teenage Dream the ninth album in history to produce four number one singles on the chart. "Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.)" followed as the fifth single in June, and Perry became the first female artist to achieve five number-one Billboard Hot 100 songs from one album when the single topped that chart on August 17, and the second artist after Michael Jackson with his album Bad. For this record, she received an honorary American Music Award in November 2011 and a 2013 Guinness World Record. On September 7, she set a new record by becoming the first artist to spend 69 consecutive weeks in the top ten of the Hot 100. After "The One That Got Away" was released as the album's sixth single in October, Teenage Dream became the third album to spawn six top-five songs on the Billboard Hot 100 after Rhythm Nation 1814 by Janet Jackson and Faith by George Michael. The song peaked at number three in the US and number two in Canada.
On January 5, 2012, Perry was named the sixth best-selling digital artist in the United States, with sales of 37.6 million units according to Nielsen SoundScan. That month, she became the first artist to have four songs sell over 5 million digital units when "E.T." reached that mark along with "Firework", "California Gurls", and "Hot N Cold". On February 13, Capitol released the lead single from Teenage Dream: The Complete Confection, "Part of Me", which debuted at number one on the Billboard Hot 100 and became Perry's seventh single overall to top the chart. Teenage Dream: The Complete Confection was released on March 23. "Wide Awake" was released on May 22 as the re-release's second single, peaking at number two on the Billboard Hot 100 and number one in Canada and New Zealand.
Perry embarked on her second tour, the California Dreams Tour, in support of Teenage Dream from February 2011 to January 2012. The tour grossed $59.5 million globally and won her the award for Best Live Act at the 2011 MTV Europe Music Awards. On September 23, 2011, she performed on the opening day of the 2011 Rock in Rio festival along with Elton John and Rihanna. In September 2010, Perry was scheduled to appear on the 41st-season premiere of Sesame Street. After her scene was uploaded to YouTube, viewers criticized Perry's exposed cleavage. Four days before the scheduled airing, Sesame Workshop announced that the segment would not air on television, but would still be available to watch online. Perry subsequently mocked the controversy on Saturday Night Live, where she was a musical guest and wore an Elmo-themed shirt showing large amounts of cleavage during one skit.
In December 2010, Perry played Moe Szyslak's girlfriend in the live-action segment from a Christmas episode of The Simpsons titled "The Fight Before Christmas". In February 2011, she made a guest appearance on the How I Met Your Mother episode "Oh Honey", playing a woman known as Honey. The role won her the People's Choice Award for Favorite TV Guest Star in January 2012. She made her film debut in the 3D family motion picture The Smurfs as Smurfette on July 29, 2011. The film was a financial success worldwide, while critics gave mostly negative reviews. She hosted Saturday Night Live on December 10, 2011, with Robyn as the episode's musical guest. Perry's work on the episode received generally positive reviews from critics, who praised her performance in the episode's digital short featuring her and Andy Samberg. In March 2012, she guest starred as a prison security guard named Rikki on the Raising Hope episode "Single White Female Role Model". On July 5, 2012, Perry's autobiographical documentary Katy Perry: Part of Me was released to theaters through Paramount Pictures. The film received positive reviews and grossed $32.7 million worldwide at the box office.
Perry began to venture into business when she endorsed her first fragrance, Purr, in November 2010. Her second fragrance, Meow!, was released in December 2011. Both perfumes were released through Nordstrom department stores. Electronic Arts recruited her to promote their new expansion pack for The Sims 3: Showtime, before releasing a separate stuff pack featuring Perry-inspired furniture, outfits, and hairstyles, titled The Sims 3: Katy Perry's Sweet Treats, in June 2012. The following month, she became the spokesperson and ambassador for Popchips and made an investment in the company. Billboard dubbed her as their "Woman of the Year" for 2012.
She married Russell Brand on October 23, 2010, in a traditional Hindu ceremony near the Ranthambhore tiger sanctuary in Rajasthan, India. Brand announced on December 30, 2011, that they were divorcing after 14 months of marriage. Perry later stated that conflicting career schedules and his desire to have children before she was ready led to the end of their marriage and that he never spoke to her again after sending a text message that he was divorcing her, while Brand asserted that he divorced her due to her commercial success and reluctance to engage in activism. She was initially distraught over their divorce, and said that she contemplated suicide. After the marriage ended in 2012, Perry began a relationship with singer John Mayer that August.
2013–2015: Prism and Super Bowl XLIX halftime show
In November 2012, Perry began work on her fourth album, Prism. She told Billboard, "I know exactly the record I want to make next. I know the artwork, the coloring and the tone" and "I even know what type of tour I'm doing next. I'll be very pleased if the vision I have in my head becomes a reality." After initially telling L'Uomo Vogue in June 2012 that she planned to have "darker elements" in Prism following the end of her marriage, the singer revealed to MTV during the 2013 MTV Video Music Awards that she changed the album's direction after periods of self-reflection. Perry commented "I felt very prismatic", which inspired the album's name. "Roar" was released as the lead single from Prism on August 10, 2013. It was promoted at the MTV Video Music Awards and reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100. "Unconditionally" followed as the second single from Prism on October 16, 2013, and peaked at number 14 in the United States.
Prism was released on October 18, 2013, and has sold 4 million copies as of August 2015. It received favorable reviews from critics and debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 chart. Four days later, Perry performed the songs from the album at the iHeartRadio Theater in Los Angeles. "Dark Horse" with Juicy J was released as the album's third single in December, and became her ninth U.S. number-one single the following month. In 2014, "Birthday" and "This Is How We Do" respectively followed as the album's fourth and fifth singles, and reached the top 25 on the Hot 100. Prior to ending her relationship with Mayer in February 2014, she recorded and co-wrote a duet with him titled "Who You Love" for his album Paradise Valley. The song was released on August 12, 2013. Perry's third headlining tour, the Prismatic World Tour, began in May 2014 and concluded in October 2015. It sold almost 2 million tickets and grossed $204.3 million worldwide and won Perry the award for "Top Package" at the 2014 Billboard Touring Awards. She also performed at the 2015 Rock in Rio festival on September 27, 2015.
On November 23, 2014, the NFL announced that Perry would perform at the Super Bowl XLIX halftime show on February 1, 2015. Lenny Kravitz and Missy Elliott served as special guests for the show. Her performance was critically acclaimed, and the Guinness World Records announced two days after the singer's halftime show that it garnered 118.5 million viewers in the United States, becoming the most watched and highest rated show in Super Bowl history. The viewership was higher than the game itself, which was viewed by an audience of 114.4 million.
The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) ranked her fifth on the list of Top Global Recording Artists of 2013. On June 26, 2014, she was declared the Top Certified Digital Artist Ever by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) for certified sales of 72 million digital singles in the United States. In May 2014, a portrait of Perry by painter Mark Ryden was featured in his exhibition "The Gay 90s", and shown at the Kohn Gallery in Los Angeles. Along with several other artists, she also recorded a cover version of the song "Daisy Bell (Bicycle Built for Two)" on a limited-edition concept album titled The Gay Nineties Old Tyme Music: Daisy Bell to accompany the exhibition. That month, a portrait of Perry by artist Will Cotton was included in the United States National Portrait Gallery. On November 23, 2015, Perry starred in H&M's holiday advertising campaign, for which she wrote and recorded a song titled "Every Day Is a Holiday".
On June 17, 2014, Perry announced that she had founded her own record label under Capitol Records, titled Metamorphosis Music. Ferras was the first artist to get signed to her label, and Perry served as an executive producer on his self-titled EP. She also recorded a duet with him on the EP, titled "Legends Never Die". The label was later renamed Unsub Records.
Outside of her music career, Perry reprised her role as Smurfette in The Smurfs 2, which was released in theaters on July 31, 2013. Like its predecessor, The Smurfs 2 was a financial success but was panned by critics. In March 2014, she made a guest appearance playing herself in the episode "Blisteritos Presents Dad Academy Graduation Congraduritos Red Carpet Viewing Party" of the Kroll Show. Killer Queen was released as her third fragrance in August 2013 through Coty, Inc. In January 2014, she became a guest curator of Madonna's Art for Freedom initiative. In March 2015, she appeared in Brand: A Second Coming, a documentary following her ex-husband Russell Brand's transition from comedy work to activism, and released a concert film titled Katy Perry: The Prismatic World Tour through Epix, which took place during her tour of the same name. Perry also made a cameo appearance in the music video for Madonna's song "Bitch I'm Madonna" in June 2015. The following month, she released another fragrance with Coty, entitled Mad Potion. In September 2015, she appeared in the documentaries Katy Perry: Making of the Pepsi Super Bowl Halftime Show, which followed Perry's preparation for her Super Bowl performance, and Jeremy Scott: The People's Designer, which followed the life and career of designer Jeremy Scott. Perry released a mobile app titled Katy Perry Pop in December 2015 through Glu Mobile where her character helps players become famous musicians. She described it as "the most fun, colorful world that helps guide your musical dreams".
2016–2018: Witness and American Idol
Perry started writing songs for her new album in June 2016, and recorded an anthem for NBC Sports's coverage of the 2016 Summer Olympics titled "Rise", which was released the following month. Perry chose to release it as a standalone track rather than save it for her album "because now more than ever, there is a need for our world to unite". NBC also felt its message spoke "directly to the spirit of the Olympics and its athletes" for its inspirational themes. The song reached number one in Australia and number eleven in the United States.
In August 2016, Perry stated that she aspired to create material "that connects and relates and inspires" and told Ryan Seacrest that she was "not rushing" her fifth album, adding "I'm just having a lot of fun, but experimenting and trying different producers, and different collaborators, and different styles". On February 10, 2017, Perry released the album's lead single "Chained to the Rhythm" featuring Skip Marley. It reached number one in Hungary and number four in the United States. The track was also streamed over three million times on Spotify within 24 hours, breaking the music streaming service's record at the time for the highest first-day streaming for a single track by a female artist. The album's second single, "Bon Appétit" with Migos, was released that April. Its third single, "Swish Swish", featured Nicki Minaj and followed the next month. They respectively peaked at numbers 59 and 46 in the United States, and made the top 15 in Canada.
The album, titled Witness, was released on June 9, 2017, to mixed reviews, and debuted at number one in the United States. To accompany the album's release, Perry broadcast herself on YouTube for four days with a live-stream titled Katy Perry Live: Witness World Wide, concluding with a live concert on June 12. The live-stream generated over 49 million views from 190 different countries. She also embarked on Witness: The Tour, which began in September 2017 and ended in August 2018. On June 15, 2017, Calvin Harris released a song titled "Feels" from his album Funk Wav Bounces Vol. 1, which featured Perry, Big Sean, and Pharrell Williams. The song went on to reach number one in the United Kingdom.
Perry subsequently recorded a cover of the Dear Evan Hansen song "Waving Through a Window" for the deluxe edition of the cast recording, which was released on November 2, 2018. The show's creators Benj Pasek and Justin Paul had requested Perry to cover the song to promote the musical's national tour and bring awareness to mental health. Later that month, Perry released "Cozy Little Christmas". She also recorded the song "Immortal Flame" for the game Final Fantasy Brave Exvius, and had a playable character modeled after her.
Outside of recording music, Perry appeared as herself in the film Zoolander 2, which was released in February 2016. In February 2017, the singer launched a shoe line titled "Katy Perry Collections". Her shoes are available on her website, Katy Perry Collections, and at retailers such as Dillard's and Walmart. The following August, she hosted the 2017 MTV Video Music Awards. Perry was signed for a $25-million salary to serve as a judge on ABC's revival of American Idol, which premiered in March 2018. Perry began a relationship with Orlando Bloom in early 2016, and the couple got engaged on February 14, 2019.
2019–present: Smile and motherhood
At the 61st Annual Grammy Awards, Perry performed "Here You Come Again", alongside Dolly Parton and Kacey Musgraves, as part of a tribute to Parton. Four days later, she released a song called "365", with DJ Zedd. In April, Perry was included on a remix of Daddy Yankee's song "Con Calma", featuring Snow. She followed this with the singles "Never Really Over" on May 31, "Small Talk" on August 9, and "Harleys in Hawaii" on October 16.
In June 2019, Perry appeared in the music video of Taylor Swift's "You Need to Calm Down". In July, a jury in California passed a verdict following a week-long trial that Perry's song "Dark Horse" had copied Flame's 2008 song "Joyful Noise" after he filed a copyright lawsuit alleging that it used his track's beat without permission, which was later overturned. After the initial verdict, the jury ordered her to pay him $550,000. The next month, Josh Kloss, Perry's co-star in the "Teenage Dream" music video, accused her of sexual misconduct. In an Instagram post, Kloss alleged that, during a party at a skating rink, Perry pulled down his sweatpants and underwear, exposing his penis to her male friends. Kloss also wrote that her management prevented him from speaking about his time with the singer. Perry has since denied his claims.
Following the release of her single "Never Worn White" in March 2020, Perry revealed in the accompanying music video that she was expecting her first child with Bloom. "Daisies", the lead single from her sixth album, was released on May 15, 2020. Its second single "Smile" followed two months later. The album, also titled Smile, was released on August 28, 2020. Two days before its distribution, she gave birth to a daughter named Daisy Dove Bloom. The album received mixed reviews, and debuted at number five in the United States. Perry further promoted the album with four compilation EPs: Camp Katy, Empowered, Scorpio SZN, and Cosmic Energy. These EPs were followed by the single "Not the End of the World" in December 2020, which had a music video in which Zooey Deschanel impersonates Perry.
During the early stages of her career, Perry's musical style gravitated towards gospel and she aspired to be as successful as Amy Grant. At age 15, she heard "Killer Queen" by Queen, which inspired her to pursue a music career. She cites the band's frontman, Freddie Mercury, as her biggest influence and expressed how the "combination of his sarcastic approach to writing lyrics and his 'I don't give a fuck' attitude" inspired her music. She paid homage to the band by naming her third fragrance Killer Queen. Perry described the Beach Boys and their album Pet Sounds as having a considerable influence on her music: "Pet Sounds is one of my favorite records and it influenced pretty much all of my songwriting. All of the melody choices that I make are because of Pet Sounds." The singer also holds the Beatles' album The Beatles in high esteem, and described these two albums as "the only things I listened to for probably two years straight."
She cites Alanis Morissette and her 1995 album Jagged Little Pill as a significant musical inspiration, and opted to work with Morissette's frequent collaborator Ballard as a result. Perry stated, "Jagged Little Pill was the most perfect female record ever made. There's a song for anyone on that record; I relate to all those songs. They're still so timeless." Additionally, Perry borrows influence from Flaming Red by Patty Griffin and 10 Cent Wings by Jonatha Brooke. Perry's autobiographical documentary Katy Perry: Part of Me was largely influenced by Madonna: Truth or Dare. She admires Madonna's ability to reinvent herself, saying "I want to evolve like Madonna".
Perry names Björk as an influence, particularly admiring her "willingness to always be taking chances". Other artists who Perry has cited as influences include Stevie Nicks, ABBA, the Cardigans, Cyndi Lauper, Ace of Base, 3OH!3, CeCe Peniston, C+C Music Factory, Black Box, Crystal Waters, Mariah Carey, Heart, Joni Mitchell, Paul Simon, Imogen Heap, Rufus Wainwright, Pink, and Gwen Stefani. "Firework" was inspired by a passage in the book On the Road by Jack Kerouac in which the author compares people who are full of life to fireworks that shoot across the sky and make people watch in awe. Her second concert tour, the California Dreams Tour, was reminiscent of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. She also credits the 1996 film The Craft for inspiring her song "Dark Horse", and Eckhart Tolle's book The Power of Now for influencing Prism.
Musical style and themes
While Perry's music incorporates pop, rock, and disco, Katy Hudson contains gospel. Her subsequent releases, One of the Boys and Teenage Dream, involve themes of sex and love. One of the Boys is a pop rock record, while Teenage Dream features disco influences. Perry's fourth album, Prism, is significantly influenced by dance and pop music. Lyrically, the album addresses relationships, self-reflection, and everyday life. Her fifth studio effort Witness is an electropop album that she described as a "360-degree liberation" record, with themes including political liberation, sexual liberation, and liberation from negativity. Many of her songs, particularly on Teenage Dream, reflect on love between teenagers; W magazine described the album's sexual innuendos as "irresistible hook-laden melodies". Self-empowerment is a common theme in Perry's music.
Perry has described herself as a "singer-songwriter masquerading as a pop star" and maintains that honest songwriting is very important to her. She told Marie Claire: "I feel like my secret magic trick that separates me from a lot of my peers is the bravery to be vulnerable and truthful and honest. I think you become more relatable when you're vulnerable." Actress and comedian Kristen Wiig commented that "as easy, breezy, and infectious as Perry's songs can be, beneath the surface lurks a sea of mixed emotions, jumbled motives, and contradictory impulses complicated enough to fill a Carole King record." According to Greg Kot of the Chicago Tribune, "being taken seriously may be Perry's greatest challenge yet." In 2013, The New York Times labeled her "the most potent pop star of the day – her hits are relatable with just a hint of experimentation". Randall Roberts of the Los Angeles Times criticized her use of idioms and metaphors in her lyrics and for frequent "clichés". Throughout her career, Perry has also co-written songs recorded by other artists, including Lesley Roy, Kelly Clarkson, Jessie James Decker, Selena Gomez & the Scene, Britney Spears, Iggy Azalea, Rita Ora, Nicki Minaj, and Ariana Grande.
Perry possesses a contralto vocal range. Her singing has received both praise and criticism. Betty Clarke of The Guardian commented that her "powerful voice is hard-edged" while Rob Sheffield from Rolling Stone described Perry's vocals on Teenage Dream as "processed staccato blips". Darren Harvey of musicOMH compared Perry's vocals on One of the Boys to Alanis Morissette's, both possessing a "perky voice shifting octaves mid-syllable". Alex Miller from NME felt that "Perry's problem is often her voice" on One of the Boys, stating that "somewhere along the line someone convinced her she was like, well, a ballsy rock chick". Conversely, Bernadette McNulty from The Daily Telegraph praised her "rock chick voice" in a review of a concert promoting Prism.
On social media, Perry surpassed Justin Bieber as the most followed person on Twitter in November 2013. She won the 2015 Guinness World Record for most Twitter followers, and became the first person to gain 100 million followers on the site in June 2017. Keith Caulfield of Billboard stated that Perry is "the rare celebrity who seems to have enormous popularity but genuine ground-level interaction with her adoring KatyCats." With a combined total of over 281 million followers across Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, she is the fifth most followed musician across social media. In June 2017, Time magazine listed Perry among its "25 Most Influential People on the Internet" of the year, writing that her live-stream for Witness was "blazing a trail" for being "the closest any major entertainer has come to giving fans the kind of 'real' intimacy that social media purports to provide".
In 2011, Forbes ranked Perry third on their "Top-Earning Women In Music" list with earnings of $44 million and fifth on their 2012 list with $45 million. She subsequently ranked seventh on the 2013 Forbes list for "Top-Earning Women In Music" with $39 million earned, and fifth on their 2014 list with $40 million. With earnings of $135 million, Forbes also ranked Perry number one on their 2015 "Top-Earning Women In Music" list as well as the "World's Highest-Paid Musicians" and declared her the highest earning female celebrity in 2015, placing her at number 3 on the Forbes Celebrity 100 list. In 2016, the magazine estimated her net worth was $125 million, and ranked her number six on their list of "Highest-Paid Women in Music" with earnings of $41 million. The following year, she was ranked number nine on the list with $33 million. In 2018, she topped its "Highest-Paid Women in Music" listing and ranked at number four on the "Highest-Paid Female Celebrities" list with earnings of $83 million. Perry subsequently was placed at number four on the 2019 "Highest-Paid Women in Music" listings with $57.5 million. Later that year, with earnings of $530 million throughout the 2010s, the magazine also ranked her as the 9th highest earning musician of the decade.
Perry has been cited as a sex symbol; GQ labeled her a "full-on male fantasy", while Elle described her body "as though sketched by a teenage boy". Vice described her as a "'serious' popstar/woman/sex symbol". She was placed at number one on the Maxim Hot 100 in 2010 as the "most beautiful woman in the world", with editor Joe Levy describing her as a "triple – no quadruple – kind of hot". Men's Health readers voted her the "sexiest woman of 2013". In November 2010, Perry told Harper's Bazaar that she was proud of and satisfied with her figure.
Perry's fashion often incorporates humor, bright colors, and food-related themes such as her characteristic spinning peppermint swirl dress. Vogue described her as "never exactly one to shy away from the outrageous or the extreme in any realm", while Glamour named her the "queen of quirk". In February 2009, Perry told Seventeen that her fashion style was "a bit of a concoction of different things" and stated she enjoyed humor in her clothing. She has also described herself as having "multipersonality disorder" for fashion. Perry lists Gwen Stefani, Shirley Manson, Chloë Sevigny, Daphne Guinness, Natalie Portman, and the fictional character Lolita as her style icons.
Perry has supported various charitable organizations and causes throughout her career. She has contributed to organizations aimed at improving the lives and welfare of children in particular. In April 2013, she joined UNICEF to assist children in Madagascar with education and nutrition. On December 3, 2013, she was officially named a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, "with a special focus on engaging young people in the agency's work to improve the lives of the world's most vulnerable children and adolescents." She arranged for a portion of the money generated from tickets to her Prismatic World Tour to go to UNICEF. In September 2010, she helped build and design the Boys Hope/Girls Hope foundation shelter for youth in Baltimore, Maryland along with Raven-Symoné, Shaquille O'Neal, and the cast of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. In 2010, Perry and Nicki Minaj performed a cover of "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" for service members during the 2010 VH1 Divas Salute the Troops concert.
She has also supported children's education and well-being. All profits from sales of the album The Gay Nineties Old Tyme Music: Daisy Bell, which includes her rendition of "Daisy Bell (Bicycle Built for Two)", were donated to the charity Little Kids Rock, which supports musical education in underprivileged elementary schools. In June 2014, she teamed up with Staples Inc. for a project entitled "Make Roar Happen" which donated $1 million to DonorsChoose, an organization that supports teachers and funds classroom resources in public schools. In May 2016, she worked with UNICEF to improve child care quality in Vietnam, hoping to "break the cycle of poverty and drastically improve children's health, education and well-being". The following month, UNICEF announced that Perry would receive the Audrey Hepburn Humanitarian Award "for her work as a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador in support of the world's most vulnerable children" at their annual Snowflake Ball in November.
Perry has supported organizations aimed at aiding people suffering with diseases including cancer and HIV/AIDS. During the 2008 Warped Tour, she had a cast made of her breasts to raise money for the Keep A Breast Foundation. She hosted and performed at the We Can Survive concert along with Bonnie McKee, Kacey Musgraves, Sara Bareilles, Ellie Goulding, and duo Tegan and Sara at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles, California, on October 23, 2013. The concert's profits were donated to Young Survival Coalition, an organization aiding breast cancer in young women. In June 2009, she designed an item of clothing for H&M's "Fashion Against AIDS" campaign, which raises money for HIV/AIDS awareness projects. On February 26, 2017, she served as a co-chair alongside various celebrities such as Beyoncé, Lea Michele, Jim Carrey, Jared Leto, and Kevin Spacey for the 25th Annual Elton John AIDS Foundation Academy Award Party, a fundraiser for HIV/AIDS healthcare.
The proceeds from Perry's single "Part of Me" were donated to the charity MusiCares, which helps musicians in times of need. During her California Dreams Tour, she raised over $175,000 for the Tickets-For-Charity fundraiser. The money was divided between three charities: the Children's Health Fund (CHF), Generosity Water, and The Humane Society of the United States.
On her 27th birthday, Perry set up a donations page for the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Auckland, and set up a similar page benefiting the David Lynch Foundation for her 28th birthday. On March 29, 2014, she helped raise $2.4 million for the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles along with other celebrities such as Ryan Seacrest, Pharrell Williams, Tim Allen, Lisa Edelstein, and Riley Keough.
Perry performed at the One Love Manchester benefit concert for the victims of the 2017 Manchester Arena bombing, among various performers including its organizer Ariana Grande, which was broadcast live on June 4, 2017, on radio and television stations around the world. In March 2018, Perry announced Witness: Coming Home, a benefit concert that was held in her hometown of Santa Barbara on May 19, 2018. The concert benefited those recovering from the aftermath of the 2017 California wildfires and 2018 Southern California mudflows. Perry partnered with the Santa Barbara Foundation, the 93108 Fund and The 805 UndocuFund, organizations which help in assisting members of the community in the Santa Barbara area through grants and various philanthropic efforts.
Perry has publicly advocated for LGBT rights. She supported Stonewall during their "It gets better..... today" campaign to prevent homophobic bullying, and dedicated the music video to her song "Firework" to the It Gets Better Project. Perry told Do Something in November 2008 she was proud to be a LGBT rights activist, saying "I've always been a very open-minded person, but I definitely believe in equality." She confirmed that she voted against Proposition 8, an amendment (ultimately ruled unconstitutional) that legally defined marriage as a union solely between a man and a woman in California. In June 2012, Perry expressed her hopes for LGBT equality, commenting "hopefully, we will look back at this moment and think like we do now concerning [other] civil rights issues. We'll just shake our heads in disbelief, saying, 'Thank God we've evolved.' That would be my prayer for the future." In December 2012, Perry was awarded the Trevor Hero Award by The Trevor Project for her work and activism on behalf of LGBT youth. On March 18, 2017, she received a Nation Equality Award from Human Rights Campaign for "using her powerful voice and international platform to speak out for LGBTQ equality", with the organization further stating that "Katy's message of inclusion and equality continues to inspire us and the world".
Perry identifies as a feminist, and appeared in April 2013 in a video clip for the "Chime For Change" campaign that aimed to spread female empowerment. She has also said that America's lack of free health care drove her "absolutely crazy". Following the shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando in June 2016, Perry and nearly 200 other artists and executives in music signed an open letter organized by Billboard addressed to United States Congress demanding increased gun control in the United States.
Through Twitter and by performing at his rallies, Perry supported President Barack Obama in his run for re-election and praised his support for same-sex marriage and LGBT equality. She performed at three rallies for Obama, in Los Angeles, Las Vegas, and Wisconsin, singing a rendition of "Let's Stay Together" as well as a number of her songs. During her Las Vegas performance she wore a dress made to replicate a voting ballot, with Obama's box filled in. On Twitter, she encouraged her followers to vote for Obama.
In August 2013, Perry voiced criticism of Tony Abbott, then-leader of conservative Liberal Party of Australia and candidate for Prime Minister of Australia, due to his opposition to gay marriage and told Abbott, "I love you as a human being but I can't give you my vote."; the statement came after Abbott expressed pride at learning of Perry's then-upcoming performance in Australia. In April 2014, she publicly supported Marianne Williamson in her campaign for California's 33rd congressional district by attending a political press event. She endorsed Kamala Harris in the United States Senate election in California, and organized a fundraiser for Harris at her home in Los Angeles in November 2016. Perry also publicly endorsed former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for president in 2016. She performed alongside Elton John at a fundraising concert for Clinton in New York City in March 2016. Perry also spoke and performed at the 2016 Democratic National Convention in support of Clinton. Four years later, she supported Joe Biden and Kamala Harris during the 2020 United States presidential election, praising the latter as a leader who had "experience we desperately need right now" and believed that the former "choosing her as his running mate is already a testament to his decision making".
Throughout her career, Perry has won five American Music Awards, fourteen People's Choice Awards, four Guinness World Records, a Brit Award, and a Juno Award. In September 2012, Billboard dubbed her the "Woman of the Year". From May 2010 to September 2011, the singer spent a record-breaking 69 consecutive weeks in the top ten of the Billboard Hot 100. Teenage Dream became the first album by a female artist to produce five number-one Billboard Hot 100 singles, and the second album overall after Michael Jackson's Bad. In the United States, she has accumulated nine number-one singles on the Billboard Hot 100, her most recent being "Dark Horse", and holds the record for having 18 consecutive number-one songs on the Billboard Dance Club Songs chart.
Billboard also named her the 15th most successful dance club artist of all time. The magazine additionally ranked her 4th on its "Greatest of All Time Pop Songs Artists" list, included Teenage Dream and Prism among its "Greatest of All Time Billboard 200 Albums by Women" list, and ranked "Dark Horse" at number 100 on its "Greatest of All Time Hot 100 Songs" as well as one of its "Greatest of All Time Hot 100 Songs by Women" along with "E.T.", "Firework", and "California Gurls". In June 2015, her music video for "Dark Horse" became the first video by a female artist to reach 1 billion views on Vevo. The following month, her music video for "Roar" reached 1 billion views on Vevo, making her the first artist to have multiple videos with 1 billion views.
Perry was declared the Top Global Female Recording Artist of 2013 by the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI). According to Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), she is the fifth top digital singles artist in the United States, with 105 million certified song units in the country including on-demand streams and also has 11 million certified album units, totaling 116 million certified units in the nation. She also became the first artist to have three songs receive Diamond certifications from the RIAA with "Dark Horse", "Firework", and "Roar". All three of them and "E.T.", "California Gurls", and "Hot n Cold" have each sold over 5 million digital copies. Throughout her career, Perry has sold more than 18 million albums and 125 million singles globally, making her one of the best-selling music artists of all time.
- Katy Hudson (2001)
- One of the Boys (2008)
- Teenage Dream (2010)
- Teenage Dream: The Complete Confection (reissue; 2012)
- Prism (2013)
- Witness (2017)
- Smile (2020)
- The Smurfs (2011)
- Katy Perry: Part of Me (2012)
- The Smurfs 2 (2013)
- Brand: A Second Coming (2015)
- Katy Perry: The Prismatic World Tour (2015)
- Katy Perry: Making of the Pepsi Super Bowl Halftime Show (2015)
- Jeremy Scott: The People's Designer (2015)
- Zoolander 2 (2016)
- Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping (2016)
- Hello Katy Tour (2009)
- California Dreams Tour (2011–2012)
- Prismatic World Tour (2014–2015)
- Witness: The Tour (2017–2018)
- Strangely Normal Tour (with Phil Joel) (2001)
- List of best-selling music artists
- List of most-followed Twitter accounts
- List of Billboard Social 50 number-one artists
- Cowlin, Chris (2014). The Pop Diva Quiz Book. Apex Publishing Limited. ASIN B00JJ2P9CE.
- Cutforth, Dan; Lipsitz, Jane (directors); Perry, Katy (autobiographer) (July 5, 2012). Katy Perry: Part of Me (Motion picture). United States; Imagine Entertainment, Perry Productions et al.: Paramount Pictures.
- Friedlander, Noam (2012). Katy Perry. Sterling Publishing. ISBN 978-1-4549-0364-2.
- Glenday, Craig (2010). Guinness World Records 2010. Random House. ISBN 978-1-904994-50-3.
- Glenday, Craig (2013). Guinness World Records 2013. Random House. ISBN 978-1-904994-87-9.
- Hudson, Alice (2012). Katy Perry: Rebel Dreamer. Flame Tree Publishing. ISBN 978-0-85775-280-2.
- Montgomery, Alice (2011). Katy Perry – The Unofficial Biography. Penguin. ISBN 9780718158248.
- Summers, Kimberly Dillon (2012). Katy Perry: A Biography. ABC-CLIO. ISBN 978-1-4408-0100-6.