Katy Perry’s 20 Biggest Hits – Rolling Stone
Home Music Music Lists

Katy Perry’s 20 Biggest Hits

The most chart-dominating hits from the RS cover star

katy perry

Christie Goodwin/Getty Images

Katy Perry's role as one of our generation's biggest hitmakers is indisputable. She's spent as much time at Number One as Janet Jackson, she's one chart-topper away from Stevie Wonder's numbers, only Michael Jackson can release a single album with as many summit-climbing hits as Teenage Dream, she's the only artist in history to spend an entire calendar year in the Top 10. In honor of her third Rolling Stone cover, here's a rundown of the 20 biggest hits that got her there.

Play video

4. “Dark Horse” (feat. Juicy J)

Released: December 17, 2013
Chart Peak: Number One (Four weeks)

Beware Katy's awesome power to overhaul the English language. This time last year, a "dark horse" was just an underdog. One smash hit later, that phrase instead conjures a malevolent witchy seductress that not even Juicy J can hit and quit. Dr. Luke's modification of trap music elements is no less drastic.

Play video

3. “E.T.” (feat. Kanye West)

Released: February 16, 2011
Chart Peak: Number One (Five weeks)

Well before he signed Juicy J to his Kemosabe label, Dr. Luke was working up a beat for Three 6 Mafia that Katy appropriated for her own moody hit. And maybe you've heard of the special guest on the remix?

Play video

2. “California Gurls” (feat. Snoop Dogg)

Released: May 7, 2010
Chart Peak: Number One (Six weeks)

This was written as a frothy Pacific counterpoint to "Empire State of Mind," and you can hear the video's pastel artificiality in its production. What an ideal visual and aural setting for a charismatic Cali space cadet –we mean Snoop Dogg, whose appreciative leer is way more David Lee Roth than Brian Wilson. If the title reminds you Big Star's "September Gurls," Perry's manager Bradford Cobb suggested the spelling as a tribute to Alex Chilton, who had passed earlier that year.

Play video

1. “I Kissed a Girl”

Released: April 28, 2008
Chart Peak: Number One (Seven weeks)

Perry has strewn contradictory autobiographical half-truths about which girl she did or didn't kiss on her first (and biggest) hit with a faux candor that's downright Dylanesque. Maybe a high school bestie really was her experimental game, maybe she was just fantasizing out loud about tasting ScarJo's cherry chapstick, maybe she made the whole thing up – songwriters do that sometimes, you know.

Arrow Created with Sketch. Calendar Created with Sketch. Path Created with Sketch. Shape Created with Sketch. Plus Created with Sketch. minus Created with Sketch.