Artist:  Katy Perry
Title:  Teenage Dream
Label: Capitol

EDITOR'S NOTE: The following review contains discussion of adult subject matter. Parents, please exercise caution when allowing children to read.

Overt sexuality plays a starring role in the former CCM singer's latest album ...

Given the public's insatiable appetite for what's new, successful pop artists know that to stay at the top of the heap, they must deliver on the old showbiz adage of "always keeping the audience wanting more."

No stranger to grabbing headlines for her over-the-top stunts, Katy Perry has also felt the pressure to stay relevant. When interviewing with USA Today, Perry said that after the worldwide success of "I Kissed a Girl," she knew it would "take time to not look like a one-trick pony."

But after you've gone the whole same-sex kissing route, what's really left in terms of shock value? Well, if Perry's latest album is any indication, there's always new ways to push the proverbial envelope.

Leading the way is this summer's ubiquitous anthem "California Gurls" which boasts the virtues of girls in "daisy dukes/bikinis on top" who cause the boys to "break their necks/Tryin' to creep a little peek." Another line takes the celebration of skin a step further into seedier territory when she references "sun-kissed skin so hot it'll melt your popsicle."

Naturally, the euphemisms only get racier, whether it's Perry's cheerleader-esque ode to male anatomy in "Peacock" or "Hummingbird Heartbeat" where various sex acts are described with a guy who makes her feel "like I'm losing my virginity the first time every time."

With "Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.), the ante is upped even further when a night of drinking and skinny-dipping escalates into a threesome, and in "E.T." a man's sexual prowess is given major props, even likening him to the devil because he's so "hypnotizing."

Surprisingly enough, nestled between all the foul language and sexual brazenness, Perry manages to throw a few lyrical curveballs. In "Who Am I Living For," she poses this existential question: "So I pray for favor like Esther/I need Your strength to handle the pressure/I know there will be sacrifice/But that's the price … /At the end/Who am I living for?").

What's intriguing about Ms. Perry is that you get the sense that she wants to be a good girl, but finds that it's far more profitable to be bad. In an interview with Rolling Stone, she not only still considers herself a Christian, but adds "I still believe that Jesus is the Son of God."

Still a far cry from her days as a 13-year-old Bible-toting CCM artist in Nashville, Perry seems to be in full-on searching mode on Teenage Dream—figuring out who she is as a woman, a believer and how that fits with her career as one of pop music's favorite pin-up girls.  


**This review first published on August 31, 2010.