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Beyond the bubblegum pop aesthetics and larger-than-life persona, Katy Perry’s discography captures a creative evolution that often stretches the confines of conventional pop music. Beginning with her breakthrough album, “One of the Boys”, Perry plunged into the pop scene with a splash of riotous color, peppering infectious hooks over rock-infused beats. Yet, the true testament to her musical prowess lies in subsequent albums, where she oscillated between lighter and darker audial hues, propelling her beyond her then pop peers.

Her 2010 release, “Teenage Dream”, with its candy-coated rhythms and anthemic choruses, struck a chord in the heart of mainstream music, securing her a permanent spot among pop royals. Not one to rest on her laurels, she churned out “PRISM”, an album radiating with a more nuanced pop florescence. The infusion of disco and electronic elements, coupled with introspective lyrics, signaled a shift in Perry’s sonic palette.

The more experimental “Witness (Deluxe)” pushed the envelope further, with Perry opting to ditch the bubblegum veneer to expose more raw and emotive undertones. This transformation journey continued with “Smile”, where she channeled her tumultuous personal experiences into anthems of hope and resilience, without losing her signature pop sheen.

On the other side of the spectrum is “Unplugged (Live At MTV Unplugged, New York, NY/2009)”, an album that offers a bare-bones look at Perry’s vocal prowess, reminding listeners of her organic roots. Lastly, the celebratory “One Of The Boys (15th Anniversary Edition)” serves as a fitting homage to her inception into music royalty.

So let’s get into it. From “One of the Boys” to “Smile”, here are the best of Katy Perry albums ranked.

6. Unplugged (Live At MTV Unplugged, New York, NY/2009)

Unplugged (Live At MTV Unplugged, New York, NY/2009)

Released: 2009

Label: Capitol Records

Released on November 13, 2009, it isn’t often that we see pop princesses in an environment that strips back the production to showcase raw musical talent, but Perry does it, and with gusto! This album, recorded live for the MTV series of the same name, undeniably cements Perry’s status as a true pop chameleon. The intimate set list including ‘I Kissed A Girl’ and ‘Waking Up in Vegas’ is given a folksy, acoustic rework, while the never-before-released ‘Brick by brick’ stands out, revealing a candid Katy we rarely saw amidst her Teenage dreams. Not to forget the Fountains of Wayne’s ‘Hackensack’ cover, an endearing curveball in the mix. Yes, “Unplugged” may not pack in chartbusters, but it’s a testament to Perry’s versatile voice and songwriting strengths that often go unnoticed amidst the high-octane pop bangers. Worth digging out of her discography for the purist and casual listener alike.

5. Witness

Witness (Deluxe)

Released: 2017

Label: Capitol Records (CAP)

Features: Nicki Minaj, Skip Marley, Migos

Steering away from her sugary Teenage Dream era, Perry embraces a semi-experimental pop, incorporating EDM and trap elements. The daring lead single ‘Chained To The Rhythm,’ featuring Skip Marley, is a sociopolitical commentary that took pop radio by storm. Lyrically, Perry explores themes of self-reflection, inner strength, and political consciousness, imbuing the album with a compelling depth. While the album didn’t smash it like its predecessors on the charts, it certainly marked Perry’s evolution as an artist bravely willing to venture into innovative territories. Its critics argue that Perry’s venture into social issues felt forced; even if so, we can’t ignore her earnest strides towards a mature, aware persona intertwined with pounding drops and killer hooks. Love it or hate it, “Witness (Deluxe)” demands we appreciate Perry’s bold step into new sonic frontiers.

4. One Of The Boys

One Of The Boys

Released: 2008

Label: Capitol Records

This fearless, chart-topping record is a colorful medley of hook-laden songs, catapulting Perry to pop princess status almost overnight. The bold, cherry-chapstick taste of the irresistibly catchy “I Kissed a Girl”, a Billboard Hot 100 chart-topper, ushered in a new era of edgy pop that stretched the boundaries of the genre. With the 80s-tinged “Hot n Cold”, Perry exposed the unsurpassed mastery of her pop craft. A more pop-rock oriented project – the album defies pop conventions at times, with songs like the title track and “Mannequin” offering a more alternative sound. This record not only heralded the arrival of a significant new voice in pop music but also set the tone for her subsequent music directions.

3. Smile

Smile

Released: 2020

Label: Capitol Records

Heavily inspired by the birth of her first child and a rekindled romance with now-husband Orlando Bloom, Perry arguably served us her most personal work to date. The album didn’t quite hit the commercial highs of some of her previous outings, topping out at No. 5 on the Billboard 200, but it garnered Perry her fair share of critical acclaim. Standout tracks like “Daisies” and “Smile” display Perry’s pop sensibility while also showcasing her knack for heart-tugging, introspective ballads. The album may not have spawned any mega-hits, but it proved Perry can still pack an emotional punch wrapped in memorable pop hooks. Nevertheless, “Smile” felt like a natural progression in Perry’s discography, reflecting her personal growth and resilience against the backdrop of pop anthems and reflective ballads- a testament to Perry’s mettle as a pop auteur.

2. PRISM

PRISM

Released: 2013

Label: Capitol Records (CAP)

Features: Juicy J

The album leaned into the pastel-colored, synth-heavy aesthetic popular at the time, delivering an incandescent pop spectacle replete with earworm hooks and Perry’s signature soaring vocals. It saw Perry painting with a broader lyrical palette, grappling with themes of self-empowerment (“Roar”), heartbreak (“Unconditionally”), and spiritual awakening (“Spiritual”). PRISM, undeniably, is Perry at her most kaleidoscopic – vibrant, multifaceted, and unapologetically pop. The album topped the Billboard 200 and churned out mega-hit singles, including the feminist anthem “Roar”. But, beyond the chart stats, “PRISM” represented a watershed moment in Perry’s career – a moment where she proved her ability to evolve with the pop landscape while staying true to her eclectic style and boundary-pushing ethos. It’s an album full of sparky, show-stopping numbers that cemented Perry’s place in pop’s pantheon, while demonstrating a fearlessness to experiment and explore new sonic territories.

1. Teenage Dream: The Complete Confection

Teenage Dream: The Complete Confection

Released: 2012

Label: Capitol Records

Features: Snoop Dogg, Kanye West, Missy Elliott, Dr. Luke, Cirkut, Dream Machine, Tommie Sunshine

It’s a sugar rush of provocative lyricism and polished production. Adding a cherry on top, Perry slams an extra six tracks to the original 12. “The One That Got Away”, a heartfelt, unabashed slice of nostalgic longing, seeped into pop culture, becoming another chart-topping staple. The pure audacity of “Peacock”, embracing blithe innuendos, showcases Perry’s boldness and wincing wit. Melt-in-your-mouth moments like “Firework” and “Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.)”, staples of late 2000s parties, epitomize Perry’s fun-loving character. Grittier edges surface in tracks like “E.T.” and “Circle the Drain”, exploring hidden recesses of dark pop. The remixed confections like an acoustic version of “The One That Got Away” and a Kanye West-infused “E.T.” twist the pop kaleidoscope even further. Perry’s knack for capturing youthful spirit and teenage dreams remains unmatched, making this album a calorific pop feast that leaves us satiated, yet craving more.