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"Wide Awake" is a song written by Katy Perry, Bonnie McKee, Dr. Luke, Max Martin, and Henry Walter. McKee first spoke of the song during a radio interview with BBC saying she was writing new music with Perry for Teenage Dream: The Complete Confection. It was later confirmed on March 8, 2012 through a UK music retail site hmv.com that the song is included in the re-release. On March 13, 2012, a few days before the album's release in France, snippets of the song and its lyrics leaked along with "Dressin' Up".
This is the eighth and final single from the Teenage Dream era. The song was well received by critics, many noting Perry's maturity and the production. The single marks Perry's eleventh visit to the top top of Billboard Hot 100 peaking at number two, following all seven of the previous singles from Teenage Dream and three out of four singles from her debut album One of the Boys. The song became her tenth consecutive number-one single on the Billboard Hot Dance Club Songs chart and her ninth number-one single on the Billboard Mainstream Top 40 (Pop Songs) chart, tying her with Rihanna as the artists with the most number one singles on the chart. The track is allegedly about Russell Brand.
It has been nominated for Best Pop Solo Performance at the 55th Annual Grammy Awards, which will be held on 10th February 2013. It is also on the shortlist of 75 songs eligible for nomination in the Best Original Song category at the 85th Academy Awards.
Background and recording
In February 2012, the cover art and details about Teenage Dream: The Complete Confection were revealed. The Complete Confection, which was released in the U.S. on March 26, 2012, contained two leftover songs that didn't make the original album: "Part of Me" and "Dressin' Up", and one brand new track called "Wide Awake". Perry stated that the song was partly inspired by her upcoming part-biopic, part-concert 3D film Katy Perry: Part of Me.
Perry said that the recording of the song took place over a period of four days, with two days going towards writing and two days going towards recording. Bonnie McKee, co-writer of the song, said that fans can expect a departure from Perry's previous music. She also noted that major life changes were a factor in the lyrics. Speaking to James Montgomery of MTV about the song, she said:
|“||Well, there were two songs that I had from Teenage Dream that I couldn't put on, it was 'Part of Me' and 'Dressing Up.' And then I knew we were doing the re-release and so I was like, 'I've got to get in the studio,' because I can't wait eight months to be able to put out this feeling that I'm feeling right now, cause God knows it would take eight months to do another record. I couldn't do it on the fly, to set up records it takes time.||”|
The song's artwork was released on May 22, 2012 via Perry's Twitter. The track's artwork features a head shot of Perry with deep purple hair and multicolored lettering  Perry is pictured with purple hair decorated with butterflies while the artwork features a green background. The artwork also features the release date of her film Katy Perry: Part of Me. Robbie Daw of Idolator described Perry as "a flower child who’s getting back to nature" but noted Perry's unnatural hair color.  While a writer from Popjustice negatively wrote: "Continuing the run of awful artwork for the ‘Teenage Dream: The Complete Confection’ ‘era’ is this font-abusing monstrosity for ‘Wide Awake’, as tweeted by Katy earlier. Just spend a moment with it. She certainly looks ‘wide awake’, we suppose."
In March 2012, during an interview with MTV, Perry said about the video: "I know exactly what that music video is. I know exactly who is directing it. I know the art direction, the people, the narrative, and I had that idea while I was writing the song". Filming of the official 3D music video for "Wide Awake" began on April 30, 2012. Filming ended on May 2, 2012. The music video was directed by Tony T. Datis and will be used as a tie-in promotion for her 2012 3D documentary-concert film, Katy Perry: Part of Me as part of her deal with Pepsi.
On June 12, 2012, a trailer for the music video was released on Perry's VEVO channel. It started with a girl flipping through a book which displays flashbacks of Perry's Teenage Dream era, describing each of the single as a 'chapter', with Wide Awake being 'the final chapter'. It also unveiled several details of the visual, hinting a fairytale storyline with 'a giant labyrinth, a poisoned strawberry, a curious cat, prince charming, and a little girl'. The video premiered on June 18, 2012 at 7:53pm on MTV and VEVO.
The video starts with Perry shooting a scene for the "California Gurls" video, receiving applause and going to her dressing room. She then takes off her wig and bow headband and looks into the mirror, which represents her awakening; roots start to grow and expand in the dressing room, changing into a dark, vine-covered setting. The camera pans to a different, darker Perry wearing a dark purple dress, a black cloak and purple-blue hair as she sings. She proceeds to explore a crepuscular labyrinth with a lantern, in which the maze symbolizes the twists and confusions in her life. The camera shows a scene of a dark hill with clouds swirling around it, while Perry is seen eating a strawberry, which is symbolic of fame (it is also a reference to her debut album "One of the Boys", as the disc has a large strawberry imprinted on it), and the walls close in on her. Perry pushes the labyrinth, as a firework shoots from her chest (a reference to her "Firework" video) into the dark sky. The scene hints that no matter what she struggles through, she always keeps that “spark” inside that pushes her forward. Perry is shown to have alien-like eyes (a reference to her "E.T." video), as the walls open up to reveal a little girl in a pink cardigan, a blue collared floral dress, and a pink ribbon in her hair who has eyes identical to Katy Perry. Perry approaches the little girl, their hands touch, and a glow surrounds them magically (the scene is a reference to the video for "The One That Got Away", with the "young Katy" and the "old Katy" coming face to face).
As they walk into a hall of mirrors to a colossal mirror in the end, Perry is now wearing a cream-colored dress with a leafy chestpiece. The little girl does not have a reflection in the mirror, while Katy does; this is symbolic to how Perry lost her innocence by being able to be seen in the "mirror of fame". When Perry reaches the giant mirror, she sees paparazzi taking pictures, trying to capture her fall. She attempts to break the mirror while the little girl sees the crumbling of the floor and tries to warn her, but to no avail. Perry finally shatters the mirror and the shards of the glass become butterflies.
The little girl is later seen pushing a wheelchair in which Perry sits in a long, blue, floral kimono-style hospital gown, trembling with the poisoned strawberry in one hand. In the hallway, they meet two guards with bull heads who block the way. The little girl furiously goes up to them and stomps her foot (meaning that when Perry remembers her innocent dream, she stays true to herself, and fights to keep moving forward). Magical waves exude from her which send the guards flying and cure Perry. Perry gets up from the wheelchair, takes off the gown revealing a graying dress, and grabs the little girl's hand, as they run down the hallway to the exit.
The doors open to reveal a beautiful labyrinth full of colorful flora (unlike the earlier maze with centipedes and cold stones) where a cat made of grass stares curiously at the girls with psychedelic, swirly eyes. Perry is now wearing a white greek dress covered with strings of pink and yellow flowers and green leaves and has a pink, blue, and orange butterfly in her hair. A "Prince Charming" appears riding a unicorn and flatters Perry but crosses his fingers behind his back, signaling that he is untrustworthy. Perry tricks him by pretending to return his affection and proceeds to punch him, much to the surprise of the little girl (punching Prince Charming is a reference to the "Part of Me" video, with Perry combating a man who pretends to love her). Perry and the girl eventually find the exit, exchanging high-fives on the way out and the girl changes back to her original dress. They hug each other before the little girl places something in Katy's closed fist. The little girl is now identified as Katheryn (the younger Perry) by the license plate on her bike (similar to the one she uses to chase her husband in the Hot N Cold music video); she walks away into a neighborhood (which is the street seen in the "Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.)" video). Perry returns to her dressing room, now wearing another outfit, this time recognized as the peppermint dress from her California Dreams Tour. She opens her fist, revealing a butterfly that flies away from her and sparkles as it leaves. The camera pans to a stage where Perry stands on a rising platform, ready to perform "Teenage Dream".
A lyric video of the track was released on May 20, 2012, when Perry was set to premiere the song at the Billboard Music Award 2012. The video implemented the use of the Facebook Timeline and displayed a range of posts about the release of the album "Teenage Dream", the seven singles from "California Gurls" to "Part Of Me", and the achievements for both the singles and album. The lyric video received overwhelmingly positive reviews from critics with many praising Perry's different approach to lyric videos on Youtube.Contessa Gayles from AOL Music commented that the video " is practically a music video in itself" Jenna Rubenstein from MTV stated: " it's a clever and emotional way to recall her past successes and offer fans some closure on this chapter of the Katy Perry journey."
Perry debuted the song in an acrobatic fashion for the first time during the 2012 Billboard Music Awards on May 20th, 2012, where she floated over the stage in a white ribbon swing keeping her suspended in the air while several background dancers performed with aerial silk. The song was also performed in Capital FM's Summertime Ball, where Perry closed the show by singing a number of her hits including 'Hot N Cold', 'California Gurls', 'Firework', 'Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.), 'The One That Got Away', 'Part Of Me' and a cover of Queen's 'We Are The Champion'.