I am reluctant to call myself a Katy Perry fan. My feelings toward her fluctuate between an indifferent eye roll and "yaaas kween!" But, when I saw her pose that question to the audience and immediately continue the show — it was followed by nothing else, no pop-star rant about self-love — that is when it clicked. That's when Katy Perry, the person and the performer, made sense: She is the people's pop star.
What I mean by that is Perry's oeuvre is accessible and cleverly packaged for all to enjoy — not just tweens, the gays, and some cool mothers. Her Barclays audience had every type of human you could think of. Granted that, yes, a majority of the guys in attendance were likely dragged there by their S.O.s (Perry knows this and even asked the crowd who schlepped their boyfriends to Brooklyn), but they were there and I, for one, saw some bopping their heads. (Fellas, it's okay to admit you like Katy Perry.)
All audience stuff aside, Perry hardly did any preaching. Unlike other pop stars who speak more than they sing onstage, Perry let her music do the talking. For two hours, the world inside Barclays glowed with pinks, blues, greens, and purples. It was a fantasy world seasoned with the bubblegum sounds of Katy Perry. There was no need to push some agenda because it was clear that all were accepted, all were embraced, and, for one night, all worries were set aside.
Despite my mixed feelings toward her, I've never been able to turn her off when she starts playing over iTunes or the radio. For she is the innuendo master, making the most adult of songs somewhat appropriate for young ears. We all know what she means when she sings about bringing out the big balloons in "Birthday." Hell, she literally brought out big balloons during the performance. But, the genius lies in how she packaged her birthday-sex song as an innocent party. And, remember "I Kissed A Girl" where she reminisces about liking the taste of the gal's cherry Chap Stick? Yeah, that's not the lip balm she's talking about.
It's this air of purity that gives Perry her edge. Sure, the light-up hair and wackadoo outfits help, but she's forever tongue-in-cheek — always doing something with a little wink. Like Pixar movies, her music can be enjoyed by both kids and adults. There doesn't need to be an asterisk next to each song, begging for an exhaustive explanation. The lyrics are simple enough to grasp, but elevated enough to make one say "I see what you did there."
Her schtick is being some beacon of hope. It's as if she's saying "Look, age and adulthood doesn't mean the loss of imagination." She's a 29-year-old woman doing and saying adult things, but wraps it all up in a pretty, sweet-tasting package. This truly makes sense when you see her onstage, breathless and without the safety of a cutting room to make her perfect. Her job is to perform, and she does it well. But, unlike Beyoncé's carefully constructed ideal, Katy Perry's perfection feels attainable. All one needs is a little glitter and a simple one-sentence reminder to love yourself.