"Not Like the Movies" is a song by Katy Perry from her third studio album Teenage Dream. It was written by Perry, and long time collaborator, Greg Wells. The song was released as the first promotional single for the Countdown to Katy Perry's Teenage Dream on August 3, 2010. Lyrically, the song is about a girl contemplates her first time and how "it wasn't right". She realizes through that experience that her "prince" is still "out there" waiting for her. It was written when Perry first started dating her then-husband, Russell Brand.
The song received positive reviews from music critics, some of whom called it a powerful and lovely song, as well a contemplative ballad, but noticed that the song's lyrics make only minimal reference to Perry then-husband, Russell Brand. The song achieved moderate success, peaking at number 53 on US Billboard Hot 100 chart and at number 41 on the Canadian Hot 100 chart. Perry performed the song on her California Dreams Tour (2011). She also did a performance of the song at the 53rd Grammy Awards on February 13, 2011.
In an interview with YouTube about Teenage Dream in August 2010, Perry revealed that "Not Like the Movies" was the first song she wrote for the album after she finished her Hello Katy Tour. Production and additional writing to song were done by Greg Wells, who previously worked with the singer on her second studio album, One of the Boys. Perry considers it to be like that of a two-part song because she had started working on "Not Like the Movies" before she met Russell Brand, and completed it after they began dating. She started the song when she was 19, where she only had the piano melody written. She stated it is a "really special" song to her because, at the first part of the track, it is a story that she needed to let out, which was claiming to know something that you do not actually know. Perry later expressed relief at being able to put all of her feelings into the song.
Inspiration for the song
Reception and chart performance
Critical reviews for song have been mostly favorable. Bill Lamb of About.com commented that it's "another powerful song and this time slows things down for a contemplative ballad". Chris Ryan of MTV said the song is "rather lovely", but noted that its lyrics refers "very little" to Perry's husband, Russell Brand. Elysa Gardner of USA Today called the song an "irresistible power ballad" and recommended readers to purchase the song. A staff writer for Portrait Magazine stated that "Not Like the Movies" was a great way to end Teenage Dream and that it showcases the singer's voice quite well, as she has "lyrics to work for instead of ones to just play around with." The reviewer concluded that it was a "really good song."
Although the song was distributed as a promotional single, it still managed to enter music charts based on legally paid digital download sales. For the week ending August 11, 2010, "Not Like the Movies" debuted at number 53 on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart, and stayed on the chart for only one week. It also managed to enter another Billboard component chart, the Hot Digital Songs, where the song found its peak at number twenty-two selling 57,000 digital downloads. On the Canadian Hot 100, the song's highest position was at number forty-one.
Perry included the song on her setlist for her 2011 world concert tour entitled California Dreams Tour. For performances of the song, she would sit on a flower-entwined bower swing that rises up to reveal a large white bridal train that flows out to complete the entire backdrop. At the same time, a bubble machine started-up and the bed-sheet hanging behind her showed footage of cartoon animals falling in love. In The Arizona Republic's Ed Masley's review of one of her concerts, he said her performance of "Not Like the Movies" was "sweet".
The song was also performed live during the 53rd Grammy Awards. Dressed in a sparkly pale-pink, "princess-like" dress and wearing glittery make-up, Perry sat on a swing that continued to rise high above the stage as she sung the lyrics to "Not Like the Movies". During the same performance, as she sang "when he’s the one/I’ll come undone," home-movie footage of her wedding to Russell Brand was projected on the curtain draps placed behind the singer. This was the first time that footage was shown. MTV News reporter Mawuse Ziegbe called it a "heartfelt tribute". Claire Suddath of Time magazine said the "Valentine's Day–themed performance coupled with Perry's wedding footage made-up for the swing that looked like a high school–yearbook photo backdrop". She gave it a Suddath "B+" rating. The Star Tribune's Jon Bream gave it a B grade.