The immensity of what Katy Perry has achieved during the Teenage Dream era can not be overstated. Love her or hate her, the statistics are mind-boggling. Five consecutive US number one singles. Six US chart-toppers in total. Eight top five hits. A record 69 consecutive weeks in the Billboard Hot 100 top ten. In the space of one album, the 27-year-old catapulted from the B List (I say that with affection) to the very top of the pop ladder. For all the hype surrounding Lady Gaga and Rihanna, neither could keep pace with the one-time gospel singer from Santa Barbara. Some put her ascent down to canny marketing and brilliant A&R work from the label but there's no denying that Katy has tapped into the zeitgeist better than anyone. Given her current status as the Queen of popular music, it's fitting that the game-changing Teenage Dream era - and her mammoth California Dreams tour - were captured for posterity.
I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that Part Of Me will, most likely, not clean up at next year's Academy Awards' ceremony. From of a technical point of view, it's sloppy and comes across as far too scripted for a serious documentary. It's also cheesier than an unwashed dick but fuck it's entertaining. The 3D concert footage is a treat for fans, while the footage documenting Katy's pre-fame struggle to get an album released is a must-see for anyone interested in the music industry. But more about that later. The main focus of the film is her 124-date California Dreams tour and its impact on her marriage to Russell Brand. I saw the show when it rolled into Sydney last year (check out my review) and had a great time. However, the footage used in Part Of Me doesn't really do it justice. The costumes look cheap - and often unflattering - up close and it exposes her labored dance moves instead of focusing on her warmth, funny banter and tight live vocals.
The behind-the-scenes material is where it's really at. I love that her failed gospel career wasn't swept under the rug. Seeing the clips of her parents preaching was mind-boggling and I stan for that dance song she sang about Jesus. Please let that clip eventually find a home on YouTube! I also appreciated getting some insight into her five year stint in LA prior to signing with Capitol Records. Katy's first record deal is explored - a song called "Simple" (above), which features in the movie, did make the Sisterhood Of The Traveling Pants soundtrack in 2005 before she got dropped - and it was eerie seeing the publicity pics from her stint with super-producers The Matrix. As she says in an interview, it got to the point where Katy was considered damaged goods in the industry. I guess there's hope for Sky Ferreira and Natalia Kills yet. The highlight for me was seeing "The Box" (below) on the big screen. How great is her early stuff? If anyone is stupid enough to say she doesn't have any talent, direct them to that song and then slap them.
Another great thing about Part Of Me was witnessing Katy's loyalty to her managers, stylist, assistant and make-up artist. They have all worked with her from the beginning and seem like a family. Speaking of which, her relationship with her sister was also endearing. The hitmaker comes across really well - perhaps too well. I couldn't give a fuck about Russell Brand but it's hard not to be cynical about the way their break-up is presented. Also, Katy's nervous breakdown is depicted as a couple of tears and a lie-in before a concert. Given her Christian values, I'm sure the end of her marriage was brutal but team Perry is determined to only show so much. In their defense, the pop phenomenon has a relatively young fanbase and I'm not sure the under 10s are ready for too much realness. The absolute lowlight for me was showing sympathy tweets from fans on screen. It was unintentionally hysterical and made me want to jump on Twitter and drag some Katy Cats but hey, I'm a bit of cunt like that.
At the end of the 90 minute film, I felt a bit closer to the woman behind the cartoonish costumes and heavy make-up. I also felt a little sad. Katy spoke so passionately about wanting to do her thing but - as much as I love her flawless music - I think she'd be happier churning out the grungy brand of pop/rock of her early demos. Hopefully, she can move in that direction for her next album. Given her Midas touch, I'm convinced she could make anything a hit.