Katy Perry, Human Being

Having scaled Fame Mountain, pop's goofiest, most accessible superstar seeks loftier peaks

No matter how inevitable a song like "California Gurls" sounds, there are no guarantees, even at the highest levels of pop stardom (see Christina Aguilera's career-jeopardizing 2010 super bomb, Bionic). For Madonna or even Britney, changing your look or sound every album cycle was enough. No more. Largely thanks to Gaga, everything's accelerated. Perry knows she can't quite keep up with that pace. So instead, she's cruising in the wake, comfortably alternating between looking like a blue-haired Smurfette, a Bettie Page acolyte, and Zooey Deschanel. But super-stardom is more than an infinite clothes rack—it's about being untouchable and universal at once. "I don't want people to see that I'm a human being," Gaga has said. Katy Perry doesn't have that problem.

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