Katy Perry became Billboard's Woman of the Year on Tuesday, June 26. Neither she nor her management had any idea this was the case, but these are quibbling details. I'd gone to Los Angeles to attend the Pepsi and Billboard Summer Beats concert she was headlining as part of premiere night for her movie "Katy Perry: Part of Me." The biopic tells the story of her first major, international arena tour. The concert was amazing-thousands of fans cheering from Hollywood Boulevard-which was shut down for hours-but also from nearby apartment windows and rooftops. And why not? Her last album alone had a record-tying (some guy named Michael Jackson did it with his 1987 album Bad) five No. 1 songs on the Billboard Hot 100.
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It turned out to be the movie that spoke even more loudly, though. Walking into the theater after the concert, I was ready for some lightweight fun. And there were plenty of light-hearted moments in the film-who doesn't adore Katy's grandmother at this point?-and lots of great music. But the movie ended up being unexpected in one key way: It was real. In a way that most fans and even many in the business never get to see, the film shows how hard it can be for a young woman-for any human-to be on the road for weeks at a time, trying to balance a professional career and a personal life. There's a breathtaking scene where Katy is crying on a bed in a dressing room, exhausted and emotionally spent. Eventually she makes her way onto a lift under the arena stage, wiping away tears. But in the blink of an eye, as she rises above into a world of rainbow colors and peppermint-swirl costumes, she's all smiles for the adoring masses. When you're a pro, the show always goes on. I left the movie theater inspired by that thought, and by Katy's strength, as did so many others around the country and the world. The staff discussed the Woman of the Year idea and within a week or two we had reached out to her management.
Inspiration takes many forms. Carly Rae Jepsen, this year's Rising Star, was a bit of a journeywoman after becoming a finalist on the 2007 season of "Canadian Idol." But one song and a Bieber tweet or two later, and "Call Me Maybe" arguably became the story of 2012. What famous person didn't cover or pay homage to that song this year? And let's not lie about all the times you sang it in the car or at the office when you thought no one could hear. But perhaps most significantly, this song was a hit because fans on YouTube demanded it was, before any gatekeeper dared make an argument to the contrary. Now, much to Carly's credit she's proved to be more than one song, as "Good Time," her duet with Owl City, cracked the top 10 of the Hot 100. Her third single, "This Kiss," is now climbing the Mainstream Top 40 chart in its second week at radio.
Toughness and inspiration also abound on our Women in Music executive list. Now in its eighth year, Billboard's Women in Music report exists to inspire and to recognize the inspiration, achievements and talents within the ranks of female executives in the music business. The event began at a time when the boardrooms at entertainment and media companies were overwhelmingly male, and sadly, that time is still here. But it has been incredible to watch the contributions women are making to grow this business. What began as an honor for 20 women grew to 30, and last year expanded to 40 positions. Billboard's senior editors read and scored each nomination to produce this list, and believe me when I say that we could extend it to 60 or more and still have rain-making talent at every number.
So, congratulations to those who are honored this year. Those who came close should be energized to know that more than one-third of the women on the 2012 list are new from last year's ranking. Please, let the success of these women inspire you. Make this business and community a better place, not just for you, but for the future generations who aspire to your positions of success and influence. We'll be keeping score.
Editorial Director, Billboard