The Katy Perry We Knew

perry.JPGIt’s been a while since Katy Perry stopped by to chat with me about her music.

Yes, that Katy Perry. Although it may be hard to believe, a decade ago Katy (then known as Katy Hudson) dropped by Focus on the Family to help get the word out about her self-titled, just released Christian album. She was 16 at the time, seemingly happy to be singing for the Lord and anxious to make a name for herself.

Fast forward 10 years to today, and she’s made a name for herself, all right. But not singing the music she was talking to me about in 2001.

A recent USA Today article asked, “Which Songs Will Rule the Summer?” and on their short list was Perry’s song “Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.).” The paper is right. Currently, the tune is No. 4 on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart. But the question I’d like to ask doesn’t involve chart action. Instead, it goes, “What is Katy Perry communicating with this song?” In it, she talks about finding a “stranger in my bed” and smelling “like a minibar,” and how she and her friends “went streaking in the park/Skinny dipping in the dark/Then had a ménage a trios trois.”

It’s a problematic song no matter how you slice it. But the thing I find particularly sad about it is that Katy knows better. She’s gone from extolling the wonders of our Creator (“You could throw me in the fire/And I won’t be burned/For my faith is Your desire/And Your love endures”) to extolling all sorts of harmful, degrading, illegal and perverse behaviors.

hudson.JPGSecondly, Katy no longer influences just hundreds. Now, she influences millions. These impressionable fans hear her express how wonderful it is to be intoxicated and unaware of who’s next to you in bed, and indifferent to “warrants out for my arrest.”

It’d be easy to assume that Katy’s turned her back on her faith and upbringing, cutting the cord to everything she stood for back in 2001. She’s certainly not the girl she was when I met her—but maybe she’s not exactly what we see now, either. Take a look at what she told Rolling Stone:

“When I was a kid, I asked questions about my faith. Now I’m asking questions about the world. I think we are largely in desperate need of revolutionary change in the way our mindset is. Our priority is fame, and people’s wellness is way low. I say this knowing full well that I’m a part of the problem. I’m playing the game, though I am trying to reroute.”

But she hasn’t rerouted yet, as “Last Friday Night” shows us.

Katy, of course, is not the first person to bring objectionable content to the radio. Hopefully, this prodigal will come back some day. But in the meantime, I’d like you to ask yourself these questions:

1) Are my musical choices pleasing to God? 2) What songs rule my summer? 3) How can we culturally get beyond this time in which it’s perfectly acceptable for artists to use their platform to glorify all sorts of ready-to-mimic, yet troublesome antics? (Any thoughts here? Let me know.)

Oh, and by the way, Katy, if you’re reading this, it’s been too long. Please stop by again. I really would like to talk to you again … about a lot of things.

Who wrote this?

Bob Waliszewski is the director of the Plugged In department. His syndicated "Plugged In Movie Review" feature is heard by approximately 9 million people each week on more than 1,500 radio stations and other outlets and has been nominated for a National Religious Broadcaster's award. Waliszewski is the author of the book Plugged-In Parenting: How to Raise Media-Savvy Kids With Love, Not War. You can follow him on Twitter @PluggedInBob.

Have something to say? Leave a comment.