"Teenage Dream" is a song written by Katy Perry, Bonnie McKee, Dr. Luke, Max Martin, Benny Blanco. It is also the title track of Perry's sophomore mainstream album, Teenage Dream. The song served as the second single off the album and was released on July 23, 2010. It was released onto radio airwaves the day before. The song has topped the charts in United States, New Zealand and Ireland as well reaching the top-ten in Australia, Canada, and the United Kingdom, and has charted in Belgium, Sweden and the Netherlands. It also became Katy Perry's third number one single on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, and her second consecutive number-one single.
Writing and inspiration
When Perry and McKee first met in 2004, they both were "really into Lolita" and "had a mutual fascination with the adolescent state of mind." They explored the themes in their first records: Perry wrote "One of the Boys", which touched on the early stages of discovering that boys could be more than friends, whereas McKee wrote "Confessions of a Teenage Girl", which was about using sexual power to one's advantage. For the Teenage Dream sessions, Perry and McKee had a "forever young" idea in mind. Perry at first wrote a lyric about Peter Pan, but they later deemed it as "too young" since "we wanted it to have more edge, more sex." Another version included the lines "And the next thing you know / You’re a mom in a minivan", which made them laugh uncontrollably for an hour. There was a final version that was based around the metaphor of "trying me on" comparing clothes to sex, in a similar manner to Madonna's 1985 single "Dress You Up". It was rejected by the producers, as McKee explained, "Luke always makes us 'Benny Proof' everything. He says that if Benny doesn't get it, America won't get it." Blanco showed them The Teenagers's 2007 single "Homecoming" and asked them to write in a similar style. McKee said that "[We] looked at each other with dread, knowing we had to start all over again. [...] We were both so over it we just called it a night." McKee continued working on the song the following days. She explained,
|“||I thought about my own adolescent years, my own first love. I thought about watching Baz Luhrmann's 'Romeo and Juliet' [sic] and putting on a little mini disco ball light and just dreaming of Leo. I thought about me and my friends sitting around at slumber parties in the 90’s, giddy even just THINKING about boys. [...] I thought about what Benny said and I listened to the song again, and I was like The Teenagers… that’s such a great word, Teenager. It is a very descriptive word; it packs a lot of emotion and imagery into three syllables. [...] I couldn’t believe after all of our agonizing over 'youth' themes, that we had overlooked such an obvious one – the teenage condition.||”|
The following week, Perry invited McKee, Luke and Martin to write at her hometown of Santa Barbara, California. McKee tried to approach Luke about her idea, but he was upset about the amount of time he had spent working in the chorus, so he banned them from changing it. They started working on the verses, where Perry had already prepared most of the imagery. Perry described the process;
|“||I wrote that song in Santa Barbara and it was a very pure moment for me, because that's where I'm from. And it was, like, where I started my creative juices. And also it kind of exudes this euphoric feeling because everybody remembers what their teenage dreams were — all the girls that were on your poster walls. And I want to continue to be one of those ... teenage wet dreams.||”|
After she recorded the vocals, McKee pulled Luke and Martin aside and told them her idea, to which they responded, "Well why didn’t you say that in the first place?". The chorus was rewritten, and the line "Skin tight jeans" was taken from the early "trying me on" version. When the final version was finished, McKee said, "We were all so pumped that it had paid off. I remember Max sitting back and saying 'I wish we could bottle this feeling'. It was really magical." Perry commented that even though the song was rewritten many times, she was "so happy to finally get somewhere that we all agreed on" after it was finished. During an interview in June 2010, Perry confirmed "Teenage Dream" as the second single from the album, and said that the song was about "kind of like feeling that way when you were a teenager: really emotional, really invested. ... It's intense being in love and being a teenager." After confirming that "Teenage Dream" was also the title of the album, she explained that it was a throwback to her teenage years, as she thought back to her youth while contemplating marriage to her boyfriend Russell Brand. She added, "To me, this year is pretty heavy. I am going to be getting married and putting out this record, and there is so much going on that it's nice to think of those young dreams."
Perry saw many teenage couples at the 2010 Kid's Choice Awards and she hoped the song would capture that. She decided to release the song as the second single because it holds a special place in her heart.
Inspiration for the song
"Teenage Dream" is a midtempo pop song with a strong beat that follows the retro sound of previous single "California Gurls". The song starts with relatively high vocals, with Perry singing in head voice; it also continues during the second verse. As the track continues, the vocals get stronger and more powerful, "giving a musical indication of the power of the relationship being described", according to Bill Lamb of About.com. Amos Barshad of New York said that "if not for a bluntly muscular chorus ('You! … make! … me!'), [the song] is nearly a ballad." The lyrics refer to being with a lover that makes one feel like a teenager. According to James Montgomery of MTV, the lyrics refer to being in love, and about the feelings of commitment and security that it brings. They also talk about taking the relationship further in lines such as: "Lets go all the way tonight / No regrets, just love / We can dance until we die / You and I / We'll be young forever".
Bill Lamb of About.com commented that "Teenage Dream" "has the sound and feel of an instant classic love song" and is "probably the most universally appealing love song yet released in 2010". He also added, "Technically, Katy Perry is not a phenomenal singer, but she has proven very adept at helping to create phenomenal songs to sing." Craig Marks of Billboard said that along with "California Gurls", the songs "are textbook summer singles whose ingenious pop hooks and zillion-dollar drum tracks are stamped with Perry's knack for a memorable line and frothy, gum-snapping persona." James Montgomery of MTV commented that "Teenage Dream" showed a "definite change of pace for Perry. While it's still as saccharine sweet as her previous hits, there's also a rather, well, mature quality to it (despite the title)." Amos Barshad of New York said, "Right now, it’s feeling a bit too earnest, and not nearly as catchy as the follow-up single from Perry’s first album ('Hot n Cold,' most definitely still a jam). That said, we are now mentally preparing ourselves for its ubiquity."Alyssa Rosenberg of The Atlantic dismissed the lyrics as "simply annoying and incoherent" and added that "the hook and chorus aren't nearly compelling enough to pull me back into it."
After this song and California Gurls charted, Katy Perry became seen as the girl with the blue hair.
- Katy Perry performed this song at an exclusive Beach-themed party, where she played other new tracks from her next album.
- Perry performed "Teenage Dream" at the MTV World Stage 2010 held in Sunway Surfbeach, Malaysia along with Bunkface, Tokio Hotel and Wondergirls.
- Perry performed her songs "California Gurls", "Hot N Cold" and "Teenage Dream" on Sunrise in Australia
- She appeared and performed on the Late Show with David Letterman on August 25, 2010.
- On August 27, 2010 she performed on The Today Show.
- On August 28, 2010 she performed on The Album Chart Show Special.
- On August 30, 2010 she performed the song on Le Grand Journal in France.
- On September 5, 2010 she performed the song on UK show, Alan Carr: Chatty Man.
Reference in popular culture
- The song was used in a promo for the third season of the CW series, 90210.
- The song was featured on the "Belles de Jour" episode of Gossip Girl.
Prismatic World Tour version
The music video for "Teenage Dream" premiered on MTV on August 10, 2010 at 8:00pm ET and then in the UK at 10:45pm on ITV2. It was directed by Yoann Lemoine. Prior to the release of the video, a lyric video for the song that included pictures from the shoot was uploaded to Perry's Youtube account on July 26, 2010. A 30-second snippet was also released before the video itself on August 5, 2010.
The video was filmed in Santa Barbara on July 2010, and was directed by Yoann Lemoine. Katy Perry planned the concept along with the songwriters during the writing sessions of the song. Pictures from the shoot were released that featured Perry kneeling in the sand looking up at a man (played by Josh Kloss) wearing orange speedos, while others show her kissing the man in a hotel pool. She commented about the filming on her Twitter, saying, "That's a wrap for Teenage Dream! So gorgeous [...] In my hometown. I got to cast all my friends in the new music vid for Teenage Dream = amazing insanity."
During the Ask Katy Youtube interview, Perry was asked about her music video. She replied saying:
|“||It is gonna be completely different from 'California Gurls.' With 'Teenage Dream' you'll see a very raw, almost vulnerable [side] ... I had to wear so many less layers of makeup. I had to make out with a boy which was very traumatizing, I was kind of mean to him. I would be the one to call cut because I was like, 'oh I cant [sic] do this!' I feel so horrible. But I know it's a job. [Russell Brand and me] understand what our work is.||”|
Josh Kloss, who plays the love interest in the video commented on how he was impressed by Perry and told People magazine, "I was surprised by her acting chops, I think she's a great artist, and the entire set was filled with magic. It was a lot of fun."
The video starts with Perry and her love interest driving to the beach in Santa Barbra riding shotgun in a BMW New Class convertible. She sings as she kisses and gets close to her love as he drives. A scene of her love getting ready to practice fighting in a isolated gym is shown. Her friends who are accompanying her to the beach catch up and drive beside her and they wave at each other. Next, everyone is at the beach parking lot and Perry's love starts hugging her from behind. Scenes of the two of them getting intimate in a motel room is slipped in. Everyone then starts running to the water and splash each other. The video then returns to the gym setting as Perry is getting things she left in her locker. She notices that her future boyfriend is beating the punching bag furiously and aggressively. After a while he notices her and the scene changes back to the present where we now see everyone dancing at a outdoor party, having the time of their lives. The video ends with Perry and her love interest kissing at the motel pool while swimming around.
A director's cut of the music video was first premiered onto Perry's MySpace page. Later it was released onto iTunes and uploaded onto Katy Perry's VEVO account on September 9, 2010. The director's cut features extended scenes and some in an altered order.