If every discerning music nerd only gets to pick one pop princess to admit to unapologetic digging, I totally pick Katy Perry.
Yes, she's good looking-- that's a given, but it's much more than that. Perry has a sort of easygoing charm, a rare thing in the realm of radio-dominating queens.
Yeah, I know she's totally a diva, complete with a crazy demanding tour rider, but I still get the sense that Perry isn't as prissy as she could be. She's married to Russell Brand, a feat I'm sure requires a serious sense of humor, and she seems more than willing to poke fun at herself.
Tunes like "UR So Gay" and "Peacock" are irreverent (though I have to say, the latter is just so incredibly annoying and off putting that it almost destroys all the goodwill I have for her), and videos like "Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.)" prove that Perry doesn't take her role as a popstar too seriously.
But there are other reasons I dig Katy Perry.
1. "California Gurls" is spelled that way because of Big Star.
Wanna instantly endear yourself to a music geek? Make a gigantic hit with a Big Star nod in the title. "California Gurls" is insanely catchy, but its title features a tip of the hat to Big Star, my absolute favorite power-pop band, a band high in the running for my favorite band of all time (see my weepy tribute to Big Star songwriter Alex Chilton from earlier this year). Apparently Katy's manager Bradford Cobb is a huge Big Star fan, and he pleaded with Perry to spell "girls" in the title in the manner of Big Star's "September Gurls."
2. She won over audiences while touring as part of the 2008 Vans Warped Tour.
Sure, Warped audiences have proven themselves to be accepting of some of the goofiest shit imaginable, but it still takes serious chutzpah for a pop-princess to take to the sweaty stages of the long running skate-punk, pop-punk, and hardcore festivals and make those dripping kids love you.
3. She's got really funny roots as a Christian pop-starlet.
Growing up in an evangelical family, Perry wasn't allowed to listen to the kind of secular music she currently makes.
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I can't help but feel that Perry's brief recording career as "Katy Hudson" hasn't helped keep her grounded. Sure, she shook the image pretty hard with songs like "I Kissed a Girl," but it's hard to try and fake "bad girl cred" when you were in a P.O.D. video.
The whole transition comes off as organic to me -- she's since been vocal about her support of gay rights, too.
4. She lists Joan Jett, Pat Benatar, and Cyndi Lauper among her influences.
Maybe one day she will write something as badass as "Hell is For Children."
5. The "Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.)" video is really cool.
Kenny G. Hanson. Glee kids. Debbie Gibson. Corey Feldman. Rebecca Black. It's too much NOT to work.
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You can catch Katy Perry Wednesday, August 3, at Comerica Theatre, with Robyn (who also totally rules).