First, if you don't know Katy Perry's music/don't like it, then suck it. No, I'm just kidding (not really), because her movie, Part of Me, is as much about her journey as it is about the staging of her epic tour in 2011. So whether or not you can appreciate her music and her over-the-top campy Vegas showgirl meets Strawberry Cupcake and has a love child with Rainbow Brite style, the message still rocks.
Here's what I learned from Katy's amazing movie:
1. Never give up. Katy's story is a unique one- she was not a child star/Mouseketeer. She didn't come from a showbiz family, (though you can tell that her Pentecostal preacher of a dad can def rock the mic). She was dropped from record labels over and over again. At one of her toughest times (hint: right before the breakthrough), she asked her teenage brother for money!
Still, she "never had another plan" other than to make music and make people happy through her performances. And she wasn't willing to let epic setbacks stop her from gigging, writing music, and knocking on doors.
2. Always stay true to yourself. One of the most interesting parts of Katy's journey was when they showed grainy footage of her recording sessions with renowned production team, "The Matrix."
The Matrix duo were responsible for monster hits from Britney Spears, Shakira, Christina Aguilera and Avril Lavigne among others. So Katy's former label brought in these jokers to create a hit machine.
It didn't work.
Not only did it not work, it crashed and burned.
They were trying to get her to sing/write/perform in the angry/angsty Avril school of pop music, and, well, it sucked. A clip in the movie shows Katy in the recording studio trying to be angry through her laughter. She's trying to toss a chair, push the mic stand and otherwise be an enfant-terrible and it is hilarious.
Another clip shows how pissed the Matrix peeps are that she can't deliver that kind of faux despair.
Now, if you watch the movie then you will see why drama-rama 90s style screaming/singing doesn't work for this girl. She is bubblegum supersweet happy good time pop like no one else. She probably burps rainbows. With glitter sprinkles.
And that's what she wanted to do with her music and performances.
Not that she doesn't have more downtempo songs that express other emotions besides hope, joy and bliss.
But she knew that the box they were trying to put her in just wasn't going to work for her because it ran counter to her core. Her Teenage Dream album and subsequent tour were totally authentic expressions of who she was and the uplifting/joyful experience she wanted her audience to have.
3. The show must go on. Katy married actor Russel Brand in 2010 and then embarked on a tour that would challenge the hardiest of performers. (Incidentally, it appeared that she sang live during all the footage on the movie. That alone is impressive.) As her relationship fizzled out and Brand seemed to make little effort to join her on tour, the emotional toll on Katy was visible.
Before a show in Brazil, she bawls her eyes out, tells her team to get on with the hair and makeup, and right before her dramatic stage entrance in full costume/makeup has to lean over to let out some serious sobs/tears again before she pastes on a smile and does her thang.
Having been on the receiving end of cancelled shows due to performer illness, etc, it was amazing to watch this woman, who has performed this show hundreds of times, shake off the effects of her real, raw emotion and just do the task at hand.
Seems like her actions are the the definition of "do what you cannot do."
4. Have some freaking fun. Whooohoooo! Clearly this girl is all about fun and doesn't take herself too seriously. Spinning boobie decorations that look like peppermints? A bazooka with foam to shower the audience? A dancing purple furry? Angela, the character in headgear who dreams of stardom?
Katy's entire stage show (and the backstage vibe too) put her wacky sense of humor on display. No matter what she's up to, she makes it fun.
5. Surround yourself with people who believe in you. Ever feel like you're trying to create your dream in a silo? Well, get some friends! Katy's friends, family and team have been a large part of her meteoric success. (She's the only female to have five #1 hits from the same album. Guess who else did that? Yeah, Michael Jackson.)
Her sister tours with her, her assistant keeps her sane/fed/rested, and her manager, costume and hair/makeup dudes have been with her since the beginning. It's truly a family. And they all work towards her vision and encouraged her along the way.
"Part of Me" shows Katy to be a seriously talented woman who has faced personal and professional adversity and still managed to climb to the top. Hope we all can learn from her! Now, go see the movie (we did 3D).
Rock on, Katy!