The Shmooze

Katy Perry Channels Queen Esther

By Nathan Burstein

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She’s got the No. 1 album in the country — and, apparently, she can relate to the Bible’s Queen Esther.

Katy Perry, who’s dominated radio waves since May with the inescapable pop single “California Gurls,” went straight to the top spot September 1 with the release of her third album, “Teenage Dream.” In addition to singing the praises of women from her home state (“Fine, fresh, fierce/We got it on lock”), the album also makes reference to the heroine of the Purim story. “So I pray for a favor like Esther/I need your strength to handle the pressure,” Perry sings on the album’s ninth song, “Who Am I Living For?”

For those familiar only with the “California Gurls” video — featuring the singer in an instantly famous whip-cream-spewing bra — the biblical reference might come as something of a surprise. But as many of the 192,000 people who bought “Teenage Dream” can tell you, Perry should have more than a passing familiarity with religious texts. The daughter of two pastors, Perry began her musical career in church, even releasing a gospel album in 2001.

The singer has struck a more titillating, frivolous pose since 2008, raising eyebrows in the Christian world with songs like “I Kissed A Girl,” Perry’s first No. 1 single. (Among millions of others, the song earned a fan in Israeli pop star Ivri Lider, who performs his own cover version.)

Typically sunny or sexual, Perry pulls off the biblical reference quite nicely, says Rolling Stone. The magazine described the song as “dark and compelling” in its August 24 review.


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