Katy Perry’s Best Songs: 8 Tracks That Shaped Pop Today

On the occasion of the popstar’s birthday, here are some of pop music’s most recognizable, famous, and influential songs.

Katy Perry would win several gold medals if pop music were an Olympic event. The singer’s hit list is so extensive that it’s almost terrifying. Her music shaped the sound and style of a decade, and her legacy lives on to this day.

Teenage Dream: Only a few pop songs have made it to the top of the charts. This is one of the greatest pop songs ever written. Perry nails the euphoria of new love as well as the unabashed joy of being present and living in a way that makes you want it would never end. Love fades, we grow up, and we go on, yet listening to Teenage Dream transports us back to a time when we were naive. So, in a sense, we will always be youthful.

Hot n Cold: This song is near-pop perfection, with a rollercoaster chorus that makes you want to shout at the top of your lungs. “You! You don’t really wanna stay, no! You! You don’t really wanna go, oh!” I have pleasant memories of singing this song out loud in the back of my father’s car. This is a timeless earworm.

Firework: Firework is one of the many self-empowerment anthems that have emerged. It was the music to almost every function, and with good cause. It’s essentially the bubblegum national anthem, with an exclamatory chorus and words so generic that everyone can find meaning in them. And I mean it in the nicest possible sense. Katy’s first true classic has to be this song.

I Kissed A Girl: It would be remiss of me not to include Perry’s breakout hit. Yes, the lyrics are reductive but the sledgehammer beat and all-in vocal delivery are too powerful to ignore. We’d be in business if Perry could alter the lyrics to make it a true LGBT anthem. In a less-enlightened 2008, this song walked a narrow line between knowing humour and vulgar scandal, but it got the job done.

California Gurls ft. Snoop Dogg: The upbeat California Gurls is the ideal prelude to Perry’s Teenage Dream album, which is a sugar rush from beginning to end. But California Gurls, with its chant-like chorus and Cher-like Ooooohs!, may be the sweetest of the bunch.

Swish Swish ft. Nicki Minaj: Perry’s Witness album was panned by critics and even some fans, but it does feature some brilliant moments. Swish Swish, a house-inspired track with a basement rave-ready groove and cheeky lyrics that may or may not be about Taylor Swift, is one of them. Swish was a joyful chapter in the drama that eventually put an end to their feud.

Thinking of You: Perry has several beautiful downtempo tracks in her discography, but Thinking of You is her most emotional one. Maybe it’s because the gloss we’ve come to expect from most KP songs has been replaced by some good old fashioned angst. Even though it’s one of Perry’s most unpolished vocal performances, the chorus nonetheless carries a punch.

Never Really Over: After the divisive Witness album in 2017, Perry opted to let her hair down – literally – with Never Really Over, a stuttering, mathematical block of EDM-pop that’s nearly impossible to shake. Like every other great Katy Perry song.

Katy Perry’s songs trace the development of pop music in the early 21st century, demonstrating that her creator is a master of the perfect pop single. Happy birthday to a legend!