It’s been six years since Katy Perry announced herself with “I Kissed a Girl,” which became her first hit single (and somehow made Chapstick sexy). Ever since, her immense popularity has stemmed largely from her ability to straddle that divide between Madonna (one of her idols) and girl next door. Far more wholesome than that twisted genius Lady Gaga, Perry still exudes vastly more heat and sensuality than, say, Taylor Swift. Part of that’s due to Perry’s top-heavy physicality, but her sly lyrics and full-throated delivery deserve credit, too.
In her music, all of which she co-writes, she handily mixes innocence with lust. She wants to be your homecoming queen and made her mark singing about reading Seventeen and learning how to shave her legs. But she also yearns to melt your Popsicle and see your peacock, cock, cock. When you add in God—she was raised Pentecostal and once recorded on a Christian label—things get even more complicated.