Writer(s): Katy Perry, Mikkel S. Eriksen, Tor Erik Hermansen, Sandy Wilhelm, Ester Dean (see lyrics here)
Released: October 26, 2010
First Charted: October 17, 2010
Peak: 14 US, 14 RR, 11 AC, 15 A40, 3 UK, 11 CN, 3 AU, 8 DF (Click for codes to charts.)
Sales (in millions): 12.0 US, 1.3 UK, 14.41 world (includes US + UK)
Airplay/Streaming (in millions): 0.3 radio, 1268.57 video, 200.0 streaming
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About the Song:
Katy Perry’s second album, Teenage Dream, with Capitol Records established her as “the #1 poster girl for contemporary dance-pop” SS thanks to five chart-topping songs. Only Michael Jackson had previously accomplished the feat (with 1987’s Bad). The album’s third single, “Firework,” was “a bouncing, danceable celebration of new love” SS and anthem to self-empowerment.
Perry pronounced it her favorite song from the album WK and has even called it her epitaph. SF It’s hard,” she said, “to write an anthem that’s not cheesy…I hope this could be one of those things where it’s like, ‘Yeah, I want to put my fist up and feel proud and feel strong.’” WK
She told Billboard that the inspiration for the song came from what she called her “very morbid idea…to be put into a firework and shot across the sky over the Santa Barbra Ocean” when she died. SF Her then boyfriend showed her a paragraph from Jack Kerouac’s book On the Road which she described as being about “people that are buzzing and fizzing and full of life…They shoot across the sky like a firework make people go ‘Ahhh.’ I guess that making people go ‘ahhh’ is kind of like my motto.” SF
The lyrics weren’t completely embraced by critics. MTV said the lyrics were “clunky,” but praised Perry’s vocals and Slant magazine said the lyrics “are nonsensical…but the song would work well enough in a club setting that you could forgive its otherwise glaring weaknesses.” WK BBC Music’s Al Fox said the song “displays a breezy maturity and serious set of pipes.” WK
It was the third of five songs from the album to hit #1 on the Billboard Hot 100, making her and Michael Jackson the only artists to land five chart toppers from one album (for Jackson it was his 1987 album Bad).
The video, which featured Perry in Budapest, Hungary, features Perry at the center of an outdoor dance party among fans. The director, Dave Meyers, said he wanted the video “to articulate the meaning of that song: what it means to be an underdog and have the courage…to be your own person.” SF It won MTV Video of the Year and was ranked #1 on MuchMusic’s list of best videos of 2010. WK The song was also nominated for Grammys for Record of the Year and Best Pop Solo Performance.
Last updated 4/11/2023.