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Looking back at Katy Perry’s iconic career

For most Generation Z music lovers, Katy Perry is a name we all grew up with. From iconic albums like 2008's "One Of The Boys" and 2010's "Teenage Dream," the singer is now known for music about being young, careless and introspective, making her works important staples of pop music.

Recently, the singer finished her two-year-long Las Vegas residency, titled "Play," on Nov. 4. Integrating an array of songs that spanned across her discography, Perry pulled out all the stops to put on a performance that her fans will never forget. Now that the singer has put a pause on performing, it's a great time to take a look back at her impressive career after all these years.

Katy Hudson was born in Santa Barbara, CA, in 1984 and raised by two Christian ministers. Growing up, she was not allowed to listen to non-religious music because of her parents' strict practice. However, this didn't stop her from singing and learning gospel songs and church hymns regularly. 

Once she hit her teenage years, she began to play guitar, wanting to pursue a music career in Nashville, TN, with a Christian record label. Yet, her musical aspirations changed drastically when her debut gospel album "Katy Hudson" didn't sell to audiences in 2001. During this time, she was also heavily influenced by artists outside of Christian music, including Freddie Mercury and Alanis Morisette, two people who would inspire her to pull a 180 in her sound.

Thus, Katy moved to Los Angeles, CA, adopting the name Katy Perry, her mother's maiden name. At first, the singer saw no success after her move, with two record labels dropping her before she could release any new music. Luckily, Capitol Records saw potential in Perry, signing her in 2007.

The label then dropped Perry's controversial EP, titled "Ur So Gay." Surprisingly, the compilation gained some traction with listeners, particularly for its title track of the same name. The themes of queerness and individuality thus caused the singer to create more music centered around the two subjects, leading her to release "I Kissed A Girl" the following year.

Stirring controversy for its theme, Perry's song became a No.1 hit in multiple countries, later becoming one of the lead singles off her next album, "One Of The Boys." Following the success of "I Kissed A Girl" came arguably one of the singer's most well-known tracks, "Hot N Cold."

With the large following Perry attracted after the release of these two singles, "One Of The Boys" registered sales of more than three million copies in the U.S. alone, proving the singer could be successful after writing an album exclusively by herself following years of setbacks. 

Perry's style also changed, opting for colorful and eccentric clothing reminiscent of a 1950s pin-up girl. This change in her aesthetic became a significant part of the singer's brand during the late 2000s, preparing fans for her next era, "Teenage Dream."

After being out for 13 years, "Teenage Dream" is an album most current music lovers admire for its perfect pop sound. With standout collaborations like "California Gurls (feat. Snoop Dogg)" to tracks that showcased Perry's vocals, such as "Firework" and its title track, the album became an overnight success, outselling "One Of The Boys" by tying Michael Jackson with five No.1 songs on the Billboard Hot 100 chart from a single album.

The singer continued to keep listeners engaged three years later with the release of "PRISM," which included songs like "Dark Horse (feat. Juicy J)," "Roar" and "Unconditionally." Steering away from her bubblegum pop days, this album saw Perry become more vulnerable about her relationships and mental health, all while remaining the same energy and talent.

In 2015, Perry's iconic track record as a performer landed her live music's biggest gig: the Super Bowl halftime show. With dancing sharks, a giant animatronic lion and Perry's stunning vocals, the performance is now remembered as one of her best, utilizing her most notorious tracks to create a fun and bright experience.

Perry's downfall to most came with the release of 2017's "Witness," which didn't earn as much commercial success as her predecessors, but this didn't stop the singer from being heavily involved in the music scene. A year later, she joined the reboot of "American Idol" as a permanent judge alongside Luke Bryan and Lionel Richie, mentoring young singers.

Amid a hectic schedule with "American Idol," Perry kept busy in her personal life as well, giving birth to her first child in 2020. Right after giving birth, the singer dropped another album as an homage to her child, called "Smile." Even though "Smile" also did not do an amazing job on the charts, it was an interesting retrospective piece about the singer coming to terms with motherhood, as well as finding inner peace.

However, "Smile" was the precursor to Perry's Las Vegas Residency, which began in 2021 and recently ended earlier this month. The live show was titled "Play," the singer's way of honoring her incredible career, singing songs from all of her albums released from the early 2000s to now. With fans calling it some of her best live performances, the residency was extremely popular, selling out instantly with limited availability.

Now that her residency is over, Perry has subtly hinted at another album in the works, but nothing has been confirmed. It will be interesting to see what the singer continues to do with her career, as her legacy as a performer will not be dying down anytime soon.


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