Over the past half-decade, Katy Perry  has effortlessly transitioned from an aspiring pop musicians to the ultimate California gurl, leaving an undeniable collection of hit singles in her wake. Those who doubted her staying power after "I Kissed a Girl" became the Song of the Summer in 2008 have watched a unique voice blossom into ubiquity, from setting Hot 100 records to launching her own fragrance starring in her own 3D film. Later this week, Billboard will honor the 28-year-old as its Woman of the Year, bestowing Perry with another career achievement one year after Taylor Swift was given the same award.
It's been a whirlwind few years for Katy Perry -- but which moments have been the most defining? Read all about the various achievements of the singer, and share your own thoughts in the comments section below.
Katy Kisses a Girl and Likes It
As a teenager, Katy Perry tried and failed to develop a lasting pop persona, enjoying a two-year stint on Columbia Records and scooping up some soundtrack appearances while shifting from gospel to pop. Yet Perry finally arrived with "I Kissed a Girl," the salacious lead single from her debut album "One of the Boys" on new label Capitol Records. Released in April 2008 and produced by Lukasz "Dr. Luke" Gottwald and his protege Benny Blanco, "Girl" was the first of many electro-pop collaborations between Perry and the studio whizzes, although its bi-curious lyrics effectively established Perry's dismissal of taboos in a way that none of her other singles could. "I Kissed a Girl" gave Perry her first No. 1 single on the Hot 100, and was named Billboard's 2008 Song of the Summer. "One of the Boys," meanwhile, spawned hits like "Hot n Cold" and "Waking Up in Vegas," on its way to making Perry a household name.
Katy Soundtracks Summer With 'California Gurls'
In 2010, Perry needed a summer anthem to trumpet her second album, "Teenage Dream." She recruited Dr. Luke, Benny Blanco, Max Martin, Bonnie McKee and the coolest Cali native (Snoop Dogg) for "California Gurls," a celebration of everything West Coast and sand in stilettos. The bouncy pop confection became one of Perry's biggest hits ever, spending six weeks atop the Hot 100 and once again earning the singer Billboard's "Song of the Summer" crown, as well as topping Billboard's special "30 Summer Songs of All Time" list. Meanwhile, its "Candyland"-themed video -- especially the instances of whip cream shooting out of Perry's breasts -- remains iconic in the singer's career.
'Firework' Video Shines Bright for Acceptance
Upon its release in October 2010, the music video for "Firework," the third single and third No. 1 hit from "Teenage Dream," was declared to be in honor of the It Gets Better campaign, which combats harassment against those in the LGBT community. "I am officially dedicating my new video to #itgetsbetter, because everyone has the spark to be a FIREWORK," Perry posted on Twitter upon the clip's release. Reaction to the video was exceedingly positive: the official clip, which was filmed in Budapest and chronicles various characters trying to feel comfortable in their own skin, has collected 336 million YouTube views, at the 2011 MTV Video Music Awards, "Firework" was given the Video of the Year honor. Perry had successfully connected another pop hit with an important overarching message of acceptance.
Katy Enters the Perfume World
"Purr," Katy Perry's own fragrance, was launched in November 2010, just as Perry was enjoying her unstoppable run of "Teenage Dream" singles. With a bottle designed like a kitten and backing from Gigantic Parfums, Purr delighted Katycats and represented the brand extension of one of pop music's biggest stars. Perry launched a new fragrance, the similarly presented "Meow," in late 2011.
California Dreamin' Around the Globe
Perry was no stranger to headlining tours when "Teenage Dream" was released in 2010, but with the 2011 California Dreams trek, the pop star set her sights on bigger audiences, previously untapped markets and a much more eye-popping presentation. With artists like Robyn, Marina & The Diamonds and Janelle Monae serving as support, Perry presented her teenage dream to Europe, Australia, Asia, South America and North America from February 2011 to January 2012. By the end of 2011, the California Dreams tour was the 13th-biggest run of the year, grossing $48.8 million and selling out 54 arenas, according to Billboard Boxscore.
Katy Smurfs It Up on the Big Screen
Perry had flirted with acting before "The Smurfs" was released in July 2011 -- she had made cameos on "The Simpsons" and in "Get Him to the Greek," and had served as a guest judge on "American Idol." But by joining the big-screen adaptation of the 1980s animated series as the voice of Smurfette, Perry got to dip her toe into the film world and flash her personality in an exciting new way. The family comedy turned out to be a monster hit, grossing over $140 million domestically and inspiring a sequel, set for release in summer 2013. And while "Smurfette" isn't exactly Hamlet, it could prove to be the humble beginning of Perry's burgeoning acting career.
Katy Makes Hot 100 History
When "Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.)" reached the summit of the Hot 100 in August 2011, Perry had collected five No. 1's from a single album, her 2010 sophomore effort "Teenage Dream." That feat had only been accomplished once before in the chart's 53-year history -- when Michael Jackson achieved five chart-toppers with his "Bad" album in 1987-88 -- making Perry the first female artist to release an album with a quintet of chart-toppers. "Thank you to everyone who helped make this happen," she told Billboard when "Last Friday Night" completed the chart feat. "Ever since I was 9 years old, singing into my hairbrush, I've dreamed very big dreams, but today is bigger than my dreams."
Katy Debuts 'Wide Awake' With Acrobatic Performance
As the second single from her "Teenage Dream" re-issue, "Wide Awake" is a meditation on Perry's failed marriage to Russell Brand; "Falling from cloud nine, crashing from the high," she sings on the chorus of the track. The pop star wanted to debut the song in the flashiest way imaginable, and she got her chance at the 2012 Billboard Music Awards, where she unveiled the track alongside a handful of aerialists and swinging over the audience at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. "Wide Awake," which was written for her 3D film "Part of Me," ended up peaking at No. 2 on the Hot 100, and has sold 2.6 million downloads to date, according to Nielsen SoundScan.
Katy Shares Her Story in 'Part of Me' Film
Following in the footsteps of pop singers like the Jonas Brothers and Justin Bieber, Perry decided to share her backstory through a big-budget 3D film. "Katy Perry: Part of Me," released in July 2012, demonstrated Perry's transition from a struggling gospel singer to the lovable superstar she is today, while mixing in footage from her blockbuster California Dreams tour. The film has since grossed over $30 million since its Fourth of July weekend release, and gave fans the opportunity to see the real Katy as she takes a breather in between musical projects.
Katy Perry: Billboard's Woman of the Year
From packed concerts to memorable awards performances to a multiplex takeover to even more smash singles, Perry enjoyed another unforgettable year in 2012, and in September, she was named Billboard's Woman of the Year . This year's event will be taking place on Friday, Nov, 30 at the Capitale in New York. "Katy Perry broke into the industry not even five years ago, and has already accomplished more than most artists can hope for in an entire career," Bill Werde, Billboard's editorial director, says. "We are thrilled to celebrate these incredible achievements and her amazing past 12 months by honoring her with the Billboard Woman of the Year Award. With what seems like a never-ending supply of record-breaking, chart-topping hits, coupled with her unique and fresh style, Katy Perry is hands-down one of the most exciting and inspiring artists in the industry today."
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