Katy Perry is living her ‘Teenage Dream’

USA Today 8/19/10  Edna Gunderson

LOS ANGELES — Sorry, scandal buffs, this kitty isn’t catty. Katy Perry’s claws are fully retracted on the topic of Miley Cyrus and Taylor Swift, her rumored rivals. “Some people have a secret fetish to start catfights, and they want me to be more competitive than I actually am,” Perry says. “I’m a fan of Rihanna and Taylor and Gaga and Beyoncé and Miley and all those girls. We can coexist because we each bring something different to the table. That’s what’s great about female pop music these days. The ones who are shining are contributing to this big colorful spectrum.

 Few pop ingénues are as big or colorful as Perry, who is dominating the airwaves with summer smash California Gurls featuring Snoop Dogg, the buoyant, sun-drenched response to Jay-Z’s Empire State of Mind. The first single from Teenage Dream, out Tuesday, builds on the success of 2008 breakthrough One of the Boys, which sold 1.3 million copies and spawned hits I Kissed a Girl, Hot N Cold, Thinking of You and Waking Up in Vegas. The fastest-rising single at pop radio in four years, Gurls set a Mediabase top 40 airplay record with 13,167 spins in a single week. On USA TODAY’s airplay charts, it’s No. 1 at hot adult contemporary and No. 4 at top 40. It spent six weeks atop Billboard’s Hot 100 and has sold 3.4 million digital copies (on top of the 12.2 million tracks Boys  generated), according to Nielsen SoundScan.
Gurls, an electro-poppy West Coast cheer touting Daisy Dukes, bikini tops and Popsicle-melting suntans, “is a fun, easygoing song, but it’s not my
opus,” says Perry, who saw the tune as a splashy launch but is eager to share Dream cuts that reveal less dizzy aspects of her personality.

“After I Kissed a Girl, I knew it would take time to not look like a one-trick pony,” she says. “This album is a perfect snapshot of where I am mentally and
emotionally.”
Discussing her affection for cats, evolving religious beliefs and early pop failures, Perry, 25, bares a subtle, serious side in stark contrast to the goofy
coquette whose bra squirts whipped cream in the  Gurls video. In a pale, filmy sundress and no makeup, her hair pulled back, she’s the translucent
flipside of the fashion-infatuated cover girl who flaunts blue wigs, ample face paint, retro frocks, big bows and fruit motifs.

Yet Katy kitsch abounds in the sparsely appointed 1920s Loz Feliz home she shares with younger brother David, 21. Pink flamingos rim the pool. A
cotton candy machine, pink fridge, red polka-dotteakettle and “Team Krusty” neon sign brighten the kitchen and dining room.

Though what she calls “touches of cuteness” reveal a genuine daffy nature, the maturity and thoughtfulness displayed on Dream are no less real, Perry says. “I relate to young women,” she says. “It’s the subject I can be most honest about. Lyrics are my focus, my forte, the black box of my heart. I don’t censor myself in songs.”

Self-empowerment and the search for lasting love are cherished themes. “Show ’em what you’re worth,” she commands on inspiring dance-rocker Firework. Not Like the Movies and The One That Got Away are
wistful, grown-up reflections on romance. Pearl examines a woman suffering under a domineering partner. And the goth-metallic Circle the Drain finds
Perry fiercely ripping a drugged-out ex.

“That’s my You Oughta Know,” she says, without divulging particulars. “It was hard to write because I stored away that feeling and had to conjure it back
up. It’s a cliché to say writing songs is therapeutic,but it’s true.”

Dreams doesn’t skimp on teenage escapism. Likely to follow Gurls up the charts are hangover singalong Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.) and the randy
guy-leering Peacock.

Friday “is my Waking Up in Vegas 2.0,” says Perry, predicting it will sweep sorority houses. “It’s one of those no-brainer radio songs. Remember when I
Gotta Feeling came out? I’m like, really? But a week later, I’m going, ‘Mazel tov!’ like everyone else.”

Peacock’s crude wordplay sprang from observing the strutting polygamous male birds during a trip toIndia. “I’ve always been obsessed with birds,” she
says. “Peacocks have all these colors, can’t fly and sound like cats. And the name! I love double-entendres and puns.”

She collaborated with such pop pros as Dr. Luke,  Max Martin and Greg Wells, co-writing the 12 tracks and never surrendering her vision to steer Dreams  
toward both the hips and the heart.

“I wanted more tempo. I wanted people to move more, get sandwiched between each other and not know if the sweat is their own or someone else’s. Indoing so, I didn’t want to sacrifice storytelling or depth.”

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