Teenage Dream – The Perfect Pop Record


It is undeniable that Katy Perry is a pop culture icon. But how did the singer-songwriter achieve pop-royalty?  With a Teenage Dream, of course!


High-school dropout Katheryn Hudson, now “Katy Perry,” signed to Capitol Records in 2007, and was partnered with hit-maker and producer Dr. Luke. The next year, following her debut album “One of the Boys,” Perry solidified herself as a force to be reckoned with in the music industry. Achieving mainstream success with smash hits “I Kissed a Girl” and “Hot N Cold,” the public’s eye was on Perry.  Her next era would revolutionize pop music: “[Teenage Dream] is the most important pop record of the decade. It’s quite literally a dream.” (VH1 2015)


“California Gurls” featuring Snoop Dogg was released in May 2010, and peaked at number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart for six weeks. The accompanying music video introduced us all to the sweet candy dreamworld soon to become Katy’s “Teenage Dream.” The studio album, released August 24, 2010, debuted at number one on the Billboard 200. “Teenage Dream” has had unfathomable and unprecedented success, tying only with Michael Jackson’s “Bad” (1987) and becoming the only female album in history to have five number one singles to its name [“California Gurls,” “Teenage Dream,” “Firework,” “E.T., and “Last Friday Night” (T.G.I.F.)]. It is now the most certified RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) musical era (singles+albums sold) in history, with over 60 million (80 million eligible) confirmed units sold. The decade-old album is still charting  on the Billboard 200 albums chart as of September 18, 2021. 


We can clearly see the commercial success Katy had with Teenage Dream. Let’s get into the legacy she left on the industry. 


Contributing to her successes, the ingenious marketing and promotion of the LP forced the entire globe into her confection-filled “Candyfornia.” From cotton candy scented CDs to dresses made of candy buttons and a rainbow of wigs, her marketing tactics were the epitome of pop. Her carefree and bubbly personality helped her become a marketable product with her record. 


Musically, Teenage Dream, for lack of a better term, is pop perfection. Collaborating with legendary producers and songwriters Dr. Luke and Max Martin, it was obvious an infectious body of work would be created. With themes of resilience, love, and sexual liberation, there is something in the album for everyone. Full of unique chords, dreamy vocals, catchy choruses, ballads, and hooks, you could not escape the grip Perry had on the world.  What also makes this album stand out from everything else in the musical environment is Perry’s confident sense of humor and her obvious joy that comes along with dressing up and belting out tunes in a creative, make-believe world of her own.  After all the marketing and merchandise, pop is still about fun and freedom of expression.


Beyond its success and musicality, Teenage Dream and Katy’s impact have influenced millions, including dozens of the biggest new artists in the world. Lorde’s chart-topping album Melodrama was inspired by the nostalgic feeling achieved with Teenage Dream,: “It lets you feel something you didn’t know you needed to feel. There’s something holy about it.” Alternative pop star Halsey praises the masterpiece as well: “‘Anyone who is trying to make a perfect pop album is wasting their time, anyway,’ they said with a laugh. ‘If you’re trying to make a perfect pop album, you’re just trying to make Teenage Dream again.’”  Katy Perry, thanks for this Dream come true.