Katheryn Elizabeth Hudson, known by her stage name as Katy Perry, is an American singer-songwriter. Perry rose to prominence with her 2008 single "I Kissed a Girl" which has become a worldwide hit. She is known for her unconventional style of dress, often humorous, bright in color, and reminiscent of different decades, as well as her frequent use of fruit-shaped accessories, mainly watermelon as part of her outfits. Perry has a contralto vocal range.
Perry was born in Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara County, California, United States. The middle child of two pastors, she grew up listening to gospel music and singing in church. She graduated from Dos Pueblos High School, in Goleta, California, in 2003, and immediately moved to Los Angeles at age eighteen. She changed her surname to Perry because "Katy Hudson" was too close to Kate Hudson. Perry is her mother's maiden name, changed from Perreira by her grandparents who immigrated from Portugal. Katy Perry is of Portuguese descent on her mother's side.
In her teenage years, Perry found a Queen album with her friend, and later said, "From then on, they have been my biggest influence." Also among her musical influences are Alanis Morissette, Heart and Joni Mitchell, as well as the Incubus album Morning View. Perry's biggest influences are pop rockers Cher, Cyndi Lauper, Pat Benatar, Joan Jett and Shirley Manson, who, Perry says "came out with a vengeance."
Perry dated Gym Class Heroes frontman Travis McCoy for almost a year; the two broke up in late 2008.
After Steve Thomas and Jennifer Knapp signed Perry to their label Red Hill Records, she released her first CD Katy Hudson in 2001, a Christian gospel album. In 2004, Perry worked for the record production team The Matrix. Perry also began working on a debut mainstream album, writing with Glen Ballard, which was due for release in 2005; some of the collaborations included "Box," "Diamonds" and "Long Shot," which were released on Perry's official MySpace page. Her burgeoning music career led to her being named "The Next Big Thing" in October 2004, in Blender magazine, where Perry stated she was not "a typical Christian," mentioning that she had done "lots of bad things" during her adolescence. One of the tracks she recorded with Ballard, "Simple," was released on the soundtrack to the 2005 film, The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. In 2006, Perry appeared on P.O.D.'s single, "Goodbye for Now." She made a cameo appearance on Carbon Leaf's video, "Learn to Fly," and on Gym Class Heroes' video, "Cupid's Chokehold," playing the eventual love interest for her real-life boyfriend, lead singer Travis McCoy.
She has openly talked about her struggles within the music industry, such as being dropped from record labels for much of her early career. Her songs eventually captured the attention of Virgin Records CEO Jason Flom, who was the head of Capitol Music Group, and she signed to Capitol Music in early-2007.
After signing to Capitol Records, Perry began recording for her official mainstream debut album, working with Cathy Dennis, Greg Wells, Dr. Luke, Butch Walker, Max Martin, Dave Stewart and Ted Bruner.
An EP was released in late 2007, entitled "Ur So Gay," produced by and co-written with Greg Wells (OneRepublic, Mika). A video for the song premiered in early 2008 and brought Perry to the attention of Madonna, who mentioned her on KISS FM and KRQ's JohnJay & Rich morning show in Arizona, stating that "Ur So Gay" was her "favorite song right now," as well as another mention on Ryan Seacrest's Morning Show. "Ur So Gay" has been criticized for alleged homophobia.
On March 10, 2008, she appeared as herself on the ABC Family television series, Wildfire, on the episode "Life's Too Short". She has appeared in print advertisements for Too Faced Cosmetics' Spring 2007 line. On June 12, 2008, Perry appeared as herself on the daytime soap opera, The Young and the Restless, who poses for the cover of the fictional magazine, Restless Style.
The full-length album, titled One of the Boys, was released on June 17, 2008. Perry was an act in the 2008 Vans Warped Tour to promote the album. Her first official single from One of the Boys, "I Kissed a Girl", was released on May 6, 2008. The song was a commercial success, it debuted on the Billboard Hot 100 at #76, and reached #1 on July 5, 2008. The song has since become a major worldwide hit, and along with the United States, it has topped the charts in more than 30 countries, including Australia, Canada, and the United Kingdom. The music video for "I Kissed a Girl" was released on May 21, 2008, on MySpace. An essay in Slant Magazine argues that the song "isn't problematic because it promotes homosexuality, but because its' appropriation of the gay identity exists for the sole purpose of garnering attention—both from Perry's boyfriend and her audience."
She sang backup vocals for the songs "Breakout" and "The Driveway" for Miley Cyrus' album, "Breakout".
Perry released her second single, "Hot N Cold," on September 9, 2008. The single become Perry's second top five single in dozens of countries around the world, including the US were it reached #3 on the Billboard Hot 100, the U.K, Australia, Ireland and New Zealand, as well as topping the charts in Germany, Canada and Denmark.
The album was certified Gold in the U.S on September 22, 2008. "I Kissed a Girl" is currently a nominee for 2009 Grammy Awards in the category Best Female Pop Vocal Performance.
Her two songs, "Ur So Gay" and "I Kissed a Girl", have been cited as being homophobic as well as misandric, by Glenn Sacks, and gay periodicals. MSNBC contributor Tony Sclafani wrote: "The litmus test of hypocrisy here is that if you substituted a different minority in Perry’s tunes, they’d never get airplay. 'I Kissed a Black Guy,' or 'Ur So Korean' would not be, 'Top 40.' For that matter, a song called, 'I Kissed a Boy,' sung by a male, would probably die on the vine." Chicago Sun-Times columnist Laura Berman defended the lyrics as positive, arguing that the interest caused by the song, "suggests that our society is beginning to accept that there isn't always one box, gay or straight, for people to check."
Perry responded to the controversy about, "Gay," with, "It’s not a negative connotation. It’s not, 'you're so gay,' like, 'you're so lame,' but the fact of the matter is that this boy should’ve been gay. I totally understand how it could be misconstrued or whatever...I wasn’t stereotyping anyone in particular, I was talking about ex-boyfriends."
Anti-knife campaigners criticized Perry after a publicity photo of her clasping a switchblade emerged in June 2008, which was criticized for glamourising knives. The shoot was defended as an effort to give Perry a, "sexy, harder edge."
In December Perry apologized to Lily Allen for remarks in which she called herself a, “skinnier version,” of Lily Allen saying she meant it as a joke. Allen retaliated and told a British radio station that, "I happen to know for a fact that she was an American version of me," because their record company needed, "to find something controversial and 'kooky' like Lily Allen." Allen also criticised Perry for not writing her own songs. (even though Perry in fact does write her songs)