With Katy Perry’s latest album, Teenage Dream, about to drop, we dissect what makes these glittery pop stars tick — and bring in the big bucks.
A killer voice
“Traditional musical talents are still important,” says Billy Johnson Jr., Yahoo! Music senior editor and musicologist. “An artist needs to have the basic foundation.”
Arthur Gallego of Gallego & Co. Brand Communications argues that vocal distinctiveness is a plus.
“Katy Perry’s voice is unmistakable, whether she’s singing solo or a featured artist on another musician’s track,” he says. “The talented female pop singers who haven’t done as well as Perry and Gaga are the ones who are simply ‘just good singers.’”
A catchy song
Yes, the music must be good in order for a pop star to be successful.
“Katy Perry came on the pop scene with a song that was really catchy, and the lyrics are risque without actually being subversive,” says Kirthana Ramisetti, managing editor of Predicto.com. “Once you go from there, the songs can be good but they don’t have to be great.”
Good girls are boring
“The pop stars in the ’90s got by just with catchy pop songs, even if they didn’t have a fully formed pop persona,” says Ramisetti. “Stars like Mandy Moore and Jessica Simpson, they got by because they were cute blondes like Britney Spears.”
Gallego adds that a brand is essential now. “An artist like Celine Dion, if she had just burst onto the scene two years ago, would not have been as successful today as she was in the ’90s, packaged the same way.”
A good story
“Today’s younger demographic really feasts off the ability to get a peek into their favourite artist’s personal life,” says Brad Sheehan, intellectual property specialist and client manager at Davie Brown Entertainment.
Access to an artist, especially through Twitter, gives people a story to follow. “Christina Aguilera has an amazing voice, but no one really knows much about her lately and I think that’s why her album suffered,” he says.
One step ahead
“If a pop star is going to remain timeless, they have to create trends,” says Barnett. “If someone is simply doing what everyone else is doing, they’re not going to be at the forefront in the media.”
Gaga is leading the masses with her otherwordly fashions, which seem to have become a requirement of the most mainstream pop stars.
“What Lady Gaga is doing is getting so much attention that it’s put a shadow on the rest of the pop world,” says Tyler Barnett of Tyler Barnett Public Relations. “When you’ve got her running around in absurd, ridiculous outfits, how do you outfreak that?”