One of the Boys is a Katy Perry album like no other. It introduced the iconic singer to the masses and was really the first album I remember being obsessed with. Particularly the songs ‘I Kissed A Girl’ and ‘Hot n Cold’ proved themselves to be school disco staples, while the other singles ‘Waking Up in Vegas’ and ‘Thinking of You’ helped to establish Perry’s winning streak which would continue into her next – and most successful – album Teenage Dream in 2010.
Serving as the album’s lead single was ‘I Kissed a Girl’; controversial but catchy, like the rest of the album it was a pop-rock number. It shows off some of Perry’s storytelling skills within her songwriting, although the singer has reflected on certain edits she would now make concerning stereotypes and general tweaks almost 14 years later. Nonetheless, it was a massive hit and an undoubtedly iconic noughties song.
As with most debut albums, it shows the artist in a slightly different light – ‘before the celebrity’ if you will. The Katy Perry here is 24-year-old artist trying to break into the industry where her passion lies. There is something rather raw musically, and in the way the album itself has grouped together the songs. By this point she had had several failed attempts at record deals and albums but none had really materialised; therefore the songs that make up One of the Boys stem from years of writing and drafting. Understandably, compared to her later releases, this gives the album a layered, constructive and evolutionary feel. It had been years in the making, finally being released in June 2008. Compared to those of Perry’s contemporaries such as Taylor Swift and Lady Gaga, One of the Boys is my favourite debut album because of the sheer myriad of songs.
Arguably, this album and its non-single tracks are very underrated. Firstly overshadowed by the initial One of the Boys singles then eclipsed by later hits you may have heard of like ‘Firework’, ‘Dark Horse’, ‘Roar’ and ‘California Gurls’. As touched upon earlier, these hidden gems were written across various developmental years in Perry’s career so can feel somewhat like snapshots into that specific part of the process instead of a clear narrative album. My personal favourites are ‘If You Can Afford Me’ and ‘Fingerprints’, both of which encapsulate a mix of fun and excitement with self-worth and the desire to leave behind a legacy…a good prologue to Katy Perry’s career really. Plus it helps that they’re very catchy with great hooks.
Perhaps ironic, given that this is a retrospective, the aesthetics behind this album display a rather vintage feel distinct from the styles of 2008. Katy Perry is more down-to-earth (by her standards) than on later albums, and it’s quite charming. The music video for ‘Thinking of You’ continued the 1940s/50s theme and although there is also a fruity motif (notably, strawberries, bananas and watermelons), this is the style I always associate with the album. It’s something that Katy Perry could certainly revisit as her career continues. In the meantime, this album is something which you should check out if you missed it the first time round.