Bonnie McKee may not be a household name yet, but she’s created some of the biggest pop songs of the past half-decade. As a close friend to Katy Perry and a disciple of pop wizard Lukasz “Dr. Luke” Gottwald, McKee has scored songwriting credits on smash singles like Taio Cruz’s “Dynamite,” Britney Spears’ “Hold It Against Me,” Ke$ha’s “C’Mon” and Perry hits “Part of Me,” “Teenage Dream” and “California Gurls,” among others.
McKee has waited patiently for another shot at a solo career after releasing a little-heard album in 2004, and with new single “American Girl,” her time has arrived. Watch the pop artist discuss her accomplished songwriting career and anthemic new single below:
“I feel like ‘American Girl’ kind of sums me up as an artist,” McKee tells Billboard during a recent session at our New York studios. “It has my signature lyrical sound — very visual and poppy and bright, colorful.” The star-studded viral video for “American Girl” features cameos by McKee’s pals Perry, Macklemore, Adam Lambert, Carly Rae Jepsen, Tommy Lee and many others. McKee says that she “literally broken down and started balling” when she saw the finished video, which has earned 1.1 million YouTube views over the past month.
Next up for McKee is a new full-length album, as well as a ramped-up stage show that follows years of watching in the wings as other pop stars performed her songs. McKee tells Billboard that she’s embracing the opportunity to finally take center stage: “Basically, it comes down to hard work, and realizing that no one else is going to do it for you,” she says. “I’m very hands-on. I’m ready to work.”
As a bonus during her Billboard session, McKee performed a medley of the songs she’s co-written for other superstars, from Katy to Britney to Taio and back again. Watch the special performance below: