Of all her Top 40 peers — Lady Gaga, Rihanna, Britney, Beyoncé, Ke$ha — Katy Perry has always seemed like the pop star who knows precisely what she does best. She rarely stretches in her endless pursuit of a fabulous time, committed to making you feel good about yourself and the world at large. If you like what she does, no one does it with quite the same élan. Otherwise, she’s easy to dismiss.
To her credit, Perry is not preachy about her mission; she’s cheeky. Even her most heartfelt songs, like “Teenage Dream,” pulse with a carefree sense of joy. Sure, it helps that she’s the pin-up girl who lives next door and would probably be your best friend if you ran into her at the corner Starbucks.