Teenage Dream

Album: Teenage Dream (2010)
Charted: 2 1
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  • This is the second single and title track from American singer-songwriter Katy Perry's third studio album. On the song, Perry sings about a boy who makes her feel like a teenager again. She explained to MTV News why she named the album after this track. "I want to call it Teenage Dream because there's a song on the record [called that] and I wrote that song in Santa Barbara and it was a very pure moment for me, because that's where I'm from," she said. "And it was, like, where I started my creative juices. And also it kind of exudes this euphoric feeling because everybody remembers what their teenage dreams were - all the girls that were on your poster walls."

    In her 2010 London Live special, Perry elaborated: "'Teenage Dream' is a euphoric feeling. It gives off this feeling that a lot of people have been through. I remember my teenage years, and I remember falling in love for the first time and how impressionable that was. How sensitive I was to every feeling. Heartbreak was really hard. Of course heartbreak is really hard now, and love is still intense, but it's a different type of feeling, that teenage love. I want people to have that feeling again of falling in love unabashedly - those teenage dreams."
  • Perry re-teamed with her "I Kissed a Girl" co-writers Lukasz "Dr. Luke" Gottwald and Max Martin for both this track and her previous hit, "California Gurls." Gottwald told Billboard magazine: "Katy definitely knows what she wants and doesn't want. She has an amazing voice, great taste and she makes great videos. It's nice to work with an artist who can deliver your music so well. I love what I get out of them."

    Perry added regarding Gottwald and company: "It's just pure, unabashed pop, and they definitely have the Midas touch when it comes to radio."
  • Perry wrote the lyrics with her friend Bonnie McKee, a singer/songwriter who released her own debut album in 2004 but found herself working on a string of Perry's hits, including "California Gurls" and "Roar," with "Teenage Dream" being the first. Perry and McKee rewrote the song five or six times until Martin and Dr. Luke were satisfied. An early version had Perry singing the line, "And the next thing you know, you're a mom in a minivan."
  • In a Songfacts interview with Bonnie McKee, she explained how she stood her ground creatively among her A-list songwriting colleagues. "We knew the track was special, and we knew the melody was special," she said. "It was kind of an unusual rhythm in the hook, where it was like [singing] you... make... me... It's on the up. You have to be careful about putting the right emPHAsis on the right sylLABle, if you know what I mean, because you can fit anything into a melody like that, but it has to sing naturally. It has to sing the way that you would say it, where the emphasis is on the right place, on the important note in the cadence, the movement, the phrase.

    We just couldn't find the right pictures, so we went through so many different versions. One of them was like 'Try Me On,' like a 'dress you up' kind of thing, and it wasn't right. Then there was one about Peter Pan syndrome and never wanting to grow up. We finally just settled on a lackluster B-version of it because we realized we just cannot spend any more time on the song because we have a whole album to make. Then I went away, and I had my 8 Mile moment where I looked in the mirror and was like, It's time. You are going to find this line! And then 'Teenage Dream' happened. When I presented it to Katy and Max, everyone was like, Eureka! Then Katy and I finished the rest of the lyric.

    It was just about painting the right picture. When you hear the track it sounds like summertime. It sounds like nostalgia. It sounds a little bittersweet. 'Try Me On' was not going to do that. It had to be something evocative, and we finally hit the nail on the head."
  • The Teenage Dream album cover features a painting of Perry lying nude in strategically placed clouds of cotton candy. It was made by Los Angeles-based artist Will Cotton, who was also the creative director for Perry's "California Gurls" video. Perry explained during an Ustream chat why she went with a risqué piece of art for the album cover: "Maybe CDs will be extinct next time I put out the album... so I wanted to go out with a bang for people to remember this. I think our collaboration will make it memorable."
  • The Yoann Lemoine-directed music video was filmed in Santa Barbara in July 2010. In the clip Perry frolics with a hunk played by actor Josh Kloss. Perry said on an online video titled "YouTube Presents An Interview With Katy Perry": "I had to make out with a boy which was very traumatizing, I was kind of mean to him. I would be the one to call cut because I was like, 'oh I can't do this!' I feel so horrible. But I know it's a job. [Russell and me] understand what our work is."
  • Perry commented about the filming of the video on her Twitter, saying, "That's a wrap for Teenage Dream! So gorgeous [...] In my hometown. I got to cast all my friends in the new music vid for Teenage Dream = amazing insanity." Amongst Perry's friends that got involved in the clip were L.A. socialites Ana Calderon and DJ Skeet Skeet.
  • This was the seventh song with the word "dream" in its title to top the Billboard Hot 100. Here's the full list:

    1967, "Daydream Believer," the Monkees.

    1977, "Dreams," Fleetwood Mac.

    1983, "Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This)," Eurythmics.

    1986, "These Dreams," Heart.

    1988, "Get Outta My Dreams, Get Into My Car," Billy Ocean

    1993, "Dreamlover," Mariah Carey.
  • Bonnie McKee later learned that the title she came up with for this song wasn't entirely original: T. Rex released a song in 1974 called "Teenage Dream."
  • Perry decided to go back her hometown of Santa Barbara, California in an attempt to recall her feelings as a teenage girl for this song, which recalls a simpler time when love felt like the first time. "Going to Santa Barbara, which isn't very far from L.A., it was just like it brought me back home and it took me out of this fast-paced L.A.," she told MTV News. "Everybody climbing on top of each other to get to that next step on the ladder... sometimes L.A. can get exhausting."
  • The song was only the third Hot 100 #1 title with the subject matter of paying ode to teenage years. The other two were Mark Dinning's 1960 chart-topper "Teen Angel" and Ringo Starr's 1974 #1, "You're Sixteen."
  • A cover version by The Glee Cast debuted at #8 on the Hot 100 when Katy Perry's original rendition was five places lower on the chart at #13. This was the first instance of two versions of the same song being in the Top 20 since the chart dated July 8, 2005 when American Idol runner-up Bo Bice debuted #2 with his version of "Inside Your Heaven", while the show's champ Carrie Underwood ranked one place lower at #3 with her rendition of the same song.
  • Perry performed this song at the 2015 Super Bowl halftime show surrounded by an array of anthropomorphic beach balls, surfboards and palm trees. It looked like what you would see at the beach if you woke up after spending too much time in the sun.
  • McKee explained to John Seabrook, author of The Sound Machine: Inside the Hit Factory, how the final version came together: "I thought about my own adolescent years, my own first love. I thought about watching Baz Luhrmann's Romeo and Juliet and putting on a little mini disco ball light and just dreaming of Leo [DiCaprio]. I was like, 'teenager' ... that's such a great word. It packs a lot of emotion and imagery into three syllables."

    "I finished it and I drove up the coast to Santa Barbara to pitch it to Luke and Max and Katy, and I got there and sang it and everyone was like, 'Hell, yeah!' And I went to my hotel and got into the bathtub and I just cried and cried. I was just so relieved."
  • Little Big Town played some of this song before introducing Perry's performance at the Grammy Awards in 2017. "We have a musical crush on our next performer, Karen Fairchild said.
  • Turns out Lorde is a big fan of this song. "There's this sadness about it, where you feel young listening to it, but you feel impermanence at the same time," the New Zealand singer told The New York Times.
    "When I put that song on, I'm as moved as I am by anything by David Bowie, by Fleetwood Mac, by Neil Young. It lets you feel something you didn't know you needed to feel... There's something holy about it."


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