All 39 Katy Perry singles, ranked meticulously from worst to best
It’s TikTok’s fault I can’t stop singing Harleys In Hawaii
You’d be a fool to dismiss Katy Perry as anything other than one of the biggest pop stars of all time. Foolishness aside, you’d be factually incorrect, since she’s one of the best selling artists globally with 143 million records sold and nine number one singles on the Hot 100. Nearly 15 years into her career, Katy has released 39 singles and the quality? Well… it varies, let’s just say that. But when it’s good it’s bloody brilliant. Here’s all 39 Katy Perry singles, ranked from worst to best.
39. Not The End Of The World
Not the end of the world, but if I have to listen to this song ever again I might wish it was. Amongst a plethora of dismal songs from Smile lurks this – a career low with one of the most hamfisted samples you can find in pop music.
Petition to rename this “Frown”.
37. Cry About It Later
One of the blandest cuts from Smile, Cry About It Later is generic album track filler at its most empty that for some reason got sent to radio as a single. It’s nothingness, and Katy Perry is too special a pop star to push nothingness.
36. This Is How We Do
The worst song on the excellent Prism. What was the reason for writing the lyric “getting our nails did all Japanesey” may I ask? Quickly. The less said about this the better.
35. Save As Draft
If you can sing, hum or even whistle this I will give you a tenner.
34. Never Worn White
Katy Perry’s visual pregnancy reveal was accompanied by the standalone single Never Worn White – a sickly sweet wedding themed ballad with all the subtlety of a smack round the chops. For a long time I resented this song because I thought it was built on a lie. You have won white Katy, you married Russell Brand. Recent research developments on my part have resulted in my learning that she married him in a grey dress. O-kay. Song’s still Never Worn Shite, though.
33. Hey Hey Hey
What the bloody hell is going on here then? “You think that I am fragile like a Fabergé” – do we? Very much hate that the entire chorus of this song is built around the narrative of a fragile, cracked Fabergé egg. We can do better than this!!!
Why does this Pokémon collab exist? I’m not actually that mad at it, but what does this add to the worlds of Katy Perry or Nintendo? All in all: very little. Tepid electropop and surface level empowerment lyrics. Yawn.
31. Cozy Little Christmas
Ah, the age-old pop star Christmas song. A rite of passage. It’s no One More Sleep or Santa Tell Me, but for a 2010s era entry to the Xmas canon, you could do a lot worse. Not bad enough to wish you got a lump of coal, but certainly not the best gift we got for Christmas in 2019.
30. Part Of Me
Hate the military propaganda music video, but that’s not the main issue here. The issue is that Part Of Me is the worst single from an era where Katy was having the career of the biggest pop star in the world, and its generic production and peppy lyrics don’t stack up to the better songs she released that era that had interesting production to compliment their peppy lyrics.
29. Last Friday Night
In 2011? This was IT. It had half the Glee cast in its video and I thought it was pop perfection. In 2021? It’s aged like milk. But I still look back on that era of finishing high school and blasting this before going to a tepid house party, sipping alcohol robbed from my parents and getting picked up at 11pm thinking I’d been at a party the equivalent of Project X.
Daisies should have been this big release to build hype for Katy’s upcoming fifth album Smile, but it just failed at launch. It’s nice, it’s pleasant, it’s well meaning. But not one second of its three minute runtime is special. That’s a real issue, and it should be clear to note how much of Smile is backlogging the end of the Katy Perry ranked singles. It just wasn’t a good era.
27. Dark Horse
Alright, hands up from me. I’m prepared to be crucified for this one. I know most fans, casual or hardcore, love Dark Horse. But I honestly think it’s a pretty bad song. There are bits to it I love, especially the pre chorus build of “so you wanna play with magic” and all that follows, but the boring production on the drop which makes up the entire focal point of the song is DREADFUL. And Juicy J’s verse is shocking. Sorry!
26. Wide Awake
Soaring, big pop. The first song out of the Katy Perry ranked singles so far that I don’t really have an issue with. Just another heavy hitter from the Teenage Dream era that made her a pop powerhouse, but one that everything above just betters. Her vocals are great, though, and I love the video.
Calvin Harris was in his bag this era, and this collab with Big Sean, Pharrell and of course our Katy is one that sounds as funky and fresh as it did when it dominated the radio in 2017. It’s a different sound for Katy, but she brings so much to the song and the chorus is so infectious. Good summer vibes.
24. If We Ever Meet Again
Did you forget this exists until right now? I know the answer is yes. A forgotten banger I fear. Weird that era where everyone just popped up on Timbaland songs, wasn’t it? Very fun chorus and a bloody good time.
Firework to me is living proof that a hugely successful commercial hit isn’t always particularly that great. There’s a time and a place for Firework, but I have no qualms or guilt about keeping it out of her top 20. Lyrics are juvenile and there’s something about it that feels like it’s clambering to be iconic. It never feels organically great to me. But in formulaic pop ways, it is often great. But to be honest, I prefer Gail Platt’s version.
22. Con Calma Remix
You know what? A pretty excellent feature here from our Katy P. Daddy Yankee’s original bop is kicked up a notch by Katy’s magnetic presence. Should have been huge and been the song of the summer. The Latin vibe is fun and it just feels like being like in a poolside bar on holiday. Quite gorgeous.
Outrageously underrated. A standalone single and a song to soundtrack coverage of the Olympics. It’s actually incredibly effective in its inspiring lyricism and soaring Max Martin production. Deserved to be a huge hit and it’s probably one of the most overlooked midtempos in her discography.
Katy Perry has about 40 seconds on the middle eight of this song, and she turned up and delivered one of the best verses of her career. It’s euphoric. It’s transcendent. I could listen to it on loop forever. The attitude and the star power bursting out of her tells you everything you needed to know about the fact she was going to be a pop star in it for the long haul.
19. Harleys In Hawaii
We love a sleeper hit, don’t we girlies! A bit of a damp squib when it came out back in 2019 – just didn’t really capture anybody’s attention. I always found it quietly fun, a nice laidback summer vibe that I was always happy to hear when it cropped up on shuffle. Skip to 2021, and Harleys has found sleeper hit success on TikTok and at the time of writing this, it’s her currently most streamed Spotify song. Everyone’s just vibing.
18. Thinking Of You
The most quietly brilliant single from her debut album One Of The Boys, Thinking Of You is gentle pop rock at its best. The fact that a song this good isn’t top 10 is a testament to how great the rest of the Katy Perry singles to be ranked are. It’s emotive, heartfelt, well sang and a mid tempo most pop stars would kill for. A perfect blend of Alanis and Avril. Just excellent.
A one way disco ticket to bop city. Absolute blast from start to fin. Chorus is so sweet, production is bouncy, and though the lyrics seem a bit lazy on first listen, it’s actually not about birthdays at all, but about the kind of love that makes you feel as special on your birthday no matter what time of year it is. That’s good pop writing, people! Worst bit is when she says “happy birthday” like a porn star who doesn’t want to be there, but we move.
16. Bon Appetit
Very, very, very ahead of its time. Great production and actually a music video that deserves to be in the conversation for her best ever. Visuals are the perfect blend of fascinating and disturbing. The food theme could feel gimmicky, but somehow feels really well executed despite it being so on the nose. I love the way she gets shoved in the broth and then sits in it like it’s a jacuzzi. A feast for the eyes and ears tbh.
15. Small Talk
This Charlie Puth penned banger gets a lot of hate, but I will be a Small Talk apologist to the grave. I genuinely believe this is one of her best singles. I think the premise is so great and emotive – reflecting on your love with someone who was once someone who you let see naked, who knew the ins and outs of you but now all that you share together is small talk. We went from strangers, to lovers, to strangers in a lifetime. That’s good writing, and the song stacks up!
14. Hummingbird Heartbeat
Hummingbird Heartbeat was only pushed as a single in Australia, but it should have been a big global hit as far as I’m concerned. It’s so deeply besotted in love, and Katy’s emotion and happiness just radiate out of it from start to finish. The production is excellent – I love Katy’s vocals over rock instrumentation so much. Weird to think this was penned out of a love for Russell Brand, but that aside, pretty heavenly.
When I first heard Katy and Zedd’s 365 I remember thinking she was about to have the biggest song in the world. And then it completely flopped. I will never forget the public for failing this song! It’s so good, and her best ever feature. Zedd’s production is slinky, sci-fi-tinged greatness and the whole thing feels so seductive but steely cold.
12. Swish Swish
The worst music video of all time, so let’s just pretend that doesn’t exist. But the song, guys, GOD, the song. What a banger. The 90s house vibes are perfect, the stupid “shellfish or a sheep” lyric is perfect, and then we get to Nicki Minaj. Onika came on this song and gave one of the best verses of her entire career. It’s hypnotic. It’s pop perfection.
11. The One That Got Away
I have very distinct memories of waiting about 20 minutes to load this music video up on my BlackBerry Bold to watch it for the first time. I think the video, concept and song are a triple threat of pop excellence. Emotional, evocative, thoughtfully written and a Katy Perry classic was born. If it doesn’t move you, you’re dead inside.
10. California Gurls
Greetings, loved ones! Let’s take a journey! It’s rare for a song to define an era so distinctly and viscerally, but California Gurls IS the year 2010. It’s sickly and gaudy, an ode to California with a few dollops of irony. Snoop Dogg is the perfect feature, and the two play off each other so bouncily you feel like you’re on a trampoline. So culturally iconic it’s hard to put into words.
Roar is the perfect title with the ferocity that Katy Perry attacks Prism’s lead single with. It’s pop euphoria at its most infinitely soaring, and one of her songs that aims to be motivational and actually inspires. You’d be hard pressed to not feel like you can do anything after the build in the bridge where she sings some of the best vocals she’s ever recorded.
8. Waking Up In Vegas
I think there’s a strong argument for why Katy Perry is so successful lies in the fact that so many or her big singles that have done well commercially as well as in this ranked list is that they have such clear storylines and setting. Most of her videos are cinematic and have a really defined theme. Waking Up In Vegas’ theme is right there on the tin, and it has all the jaunt and whimsy of a big comedy blockbuster. It’s a pop song that bounds along and never lets up steam, and the chorus is one of her very best. A worthy eight place amongst the Katy Perry singles ranked.
7. Chained To The Rhythm
Chained To The Rhythm has been out for over four years now, and has never stopped sounding fresh and cool. It’s not obnoxiously loud with its pop excellence, but is a quietly great lead single that takes Katy’s music in a new direction. The lyrics can be a bit too pop-with-purpose, but the repetitive nature of the chorus makes it impossible to shake off.
Brilliantly produced intergalactic banger. Kanye’s verse is iconic and the chorus is a Katy Perry career best. The drama and cinema of the “KISS ME! K-K-KISS ME!” chorus is one that is so stirring and cool 10 years later. I love that Kanye gets two verses so absolutely nail it too, a properly well balanced two hander that’s a great showcase for both talents.
5. Hot N Cold
The synthpop production people, the synthpop production! As soon as that pounding beat kicks in you know you’re in for a good time, and I love the 2008 memories of anyone who wrote Katy Perry off as just another headline grabbing pop provocateur after I Kissed A Girl being firmly shut up by this main pop girl behaviour. The chorus an instant classic, and the SOMEONE CALL A DOCT-AHHH bridge is so powerful it could awaken the dead.
Unconditionally is a truly brilliant power ballad, mid tempo moment. It’s a hugely cinematic, epic blockbuster of a track that puts Katy’s vocals front and centre. She can be one of the best belters in the game when she wants to be, and any naysayers need to stream Unconditionally for further evidence. By the time the lyrics “I do it all because I love you” come round there isn’t a listener who Katy Perry hasn’t got firmly on side.
3. Never Really Over
Never Really Over has that Carly Rae Jepsen pop masterpiece charm to it that just hasn’t faded once since it came out in 2019. The pop worlds rarely are all in agreement, but I’ve never met a soul who doesn’t have anything but praise to say about Never Really Over. It’s sunny, bright, serotonin filled excellence, and it’s Katy Perry doing what she’s best at. I love that even though Smile was an album that’s clearly Katy Perry at her worst, this lead single reigns supreme and still beats so many of her best when getting her singles ranked.
2. I Kissed A Girl
Kathryn Hudson was raised in an intensely religious household, by two born-again Christian pastors. The shedding of that past must have been liberating, bursting onto the pop music scene with one of the most provocative and controversial singles of the 00s. “I kissed a girl and I liked it” is a refrain that will be analysed for years. Is it a liberating queer anthem or a song that fetishises queer experiences for a mainstream audience? Everyone takes different things from it, but as a young queer kid in the closet hearing lyrics like this on the radio made me feel like people are out here talking about these feelings in a big way. And the song is incredible. A pop epic.
1. Teenage Dream
One of the best songs ever written, and that’s not me being hyperbolic. It’s a love song for Generation Z to cherish for the rest of their lives. Katy Perry is the most prominent pop star of the YouTube generation, an artist who broke out when music became instantly accessible to anyone with an internet connection. Teenage Dream is everything that pop music should be, as is the album of which it’s the title track of. The concept of teenage dream evolves through the generations, but that carefree escapism that comes with it remains the same.
On the song, Katy Perry nails everything it means to be young and in love. How much those romances mean to you, how much that trip to the cinema and eating a Maccies in a car park in the summer feels like the most romantic moment of your life. “Imma get your heart racing in my skintight jeans” is a lyric that feels like a time capsule now as we live in a time where we cherish the baggy and the flare once again – but when this song came out anything other than 2010s culture felt laughable. Nobody had a grip on 2010s culture like Katy Perry, and this song sums up the time when she was the queen of our world. The easy contender for number one when getting Katy Perry singles ranked.