Katy Perry: A strategy that works

Published 10:00 am Sunday, July 15, 2012

I love Katy Perry and pretty much everything about her, except her first hit, “I Kissed A Girl.” I’ve always felt that the song’s shameless pandering to the seas of young, drunken women who barely rate 1 on the Kinsey scale was nothing but sheer calculation.

However, her strategy worked magnificently, and the song launched a career that now has the distinction of being the only female artist to ever have five No. 1 hits on the same record.

And now, Perry’s new market-umentary film, “Part Of Me,” has hit theaters with both standard and 3D versions. I had to see it in 3D, of course!

The film gives viewers a look at her career rise through old home videos and Web-diary promo footage mixed in with an inside look at her year-long worldwide tour promoting her latest album “Teenage Dream,” similar to the formula employed by Justin Beiber’s film last year. The biggest difference being that “Part Of Me” lets us all know that Perry’s success was not overnight like Beiber’s, but the culmination of a childhood dream that expressed itself first as a Christian artist (since that’s all her Pentecostal ministry parents ever let her listen to), then as a signed and shelved secular artist with Island/Def Jam.

An ex-Island/Def Jam employee interviewed in the film was so appalled by Island/Def Jam’s decision to shelve Perry’s record and ruin her life by refusing to let her out of her contract that the employee quit her job and “stole the files” from the label to help Perry have a shot elsewhere. Through the help of multi-platinum producer Glen Ballard, the man behind Alanis Morrissette’s career, Capitol Records signed Perry.

The tour’s stage show is absolutely amazing. The pink and candy motif from the “Teenage Dream” CD artwork runs throughout. As a contrast to Madonna’s sex-filled productions, Perry keeps the titillation limited to her bustier and actually presents a show that’s more family friendly than a lot of television. It’s big and fun, with a sense of humor and filled with incredible design of wonder and vibrant color. Wait — she’s FUN AND POSITIVE? What a great change! I get the feeling it would be fun to hang out with her, and I’m obviously not alone.

And her voice? I think she’s a really great, unique singer with a passionate, strong voice filled with originality in its articulations and phrasings. THAT’S why I really love Katy Perry. Her singing style and the “Teenage Dream” album really won me over. It’s one of the best mainstream pop records out in a long time, in my opinion.

I don’t understand why certain reviewers call her singing ‘”bland” or “mediocre.” Her voice has unique colors I haven’t heard in other artists. Many reviewers also reduce her ability to her cup size, which weighs heavily in her persona. Such a dismissal is completely unfair. First she got everyone’s attention by being cartoony, now she’s showing her true talents while delivering a pop song better than anyone else right now. All the while, she dances with kids, acts silly and helps everyone have the time of their lives while singing great and looking great. I don’t see a problem here.

Was the movie a hard-hitting expose piece? Nope. Viewers do get a glimpse at some of her heartbreak as her touring schedule obviously contributes to the demise of her marriage with comedian Russell Brand, but the tone of the movie is decidedly upbeat as a whole, which was just fine with me. As someone who loves Katy Perry’s work and vision, I wish her continued success fueled by her great positivity. Her energy today is light years from that cloying “I Kissed A Girl,” and here’s hoping she keeps moving and never looks back.

Dave Carlock is a 25-year veteran of the entertainment business whose work as a recording engineer and producer, touring musician, and songwriter made him Googleable. His continuing work as an Independent Content Creator of Sound and Image has earned him a Grammy Award certificate, two Platinum Record Awards, and a Paragon Award in advertising. Currently, he brings national and international artists to make records and music videos at his production studio in the Benton Harbor Arts District. www.davecarlock.com