Katy Perry’s mix of sass and spunk combines the cheeky, club-ready pop music of Lily Allen with the commercial pop/rock of Avril Lavigne and Alanis Morissette. Born on October 25, 1984, in Santa Barbara, CA, Perry grew up in a Christian household as the daughter of two pastors. Though she was not allowed to listen to secular music as a child, Perry later found herself captivated by Alanis Morissette and Freddie Mercury, having discovered Queen‘s music during a slumber party. Religious music remained at the forefront, however, and Perry released a self-titled Christian album in 2001 under the name Katy Hudson. She would later abandon the genre in favor of a pop career.
At age 17, the burgeoning songwriter began working with hitmaker Glen Ballard, who had produced and co-written Alanis Morissette‘s chart-topping Jagged Little Pill in 1995. Several years later, she teamed up with the Matrix, a Grammy-nominated production/songwriting team whose résumé included collaborations with Avril Lavigne, Shakira, and Korn. The Matrix had plans to record their own album, with Perry serving as one of the group’s two singers. The project was ultimately shelved, but not before Perry appeared in a 2004 write-up by Blender magazine, who hailed her as “The Next Big Thing!”
With the Matrix’s unreleased album sitting in the vaults at Sony Records, Perry went back to the drawing board and ultimately signed with Columbia in 2007. Her debut single, “UR So Gay,” generated some online buzz with its mischievous lyrics and accompanying music video, and Perry’s audience grew accordingly. In 2008 her debut album, One of the Boys, was released, and she helped promote it by joining the summer’s Warped Tour and appearing in an episode of The Young and the Restless. – Andrew Leahey & Jason Birchmeier