Setlist History: Katy Perry's "Dark Horse"

We all make mistakes, but imagine being the Columbia Records executive who dropped a young Katy Perry before releasing her debut secular album... and then watching her meteoric rise to fame?

Katheryn Elizabeth Hudson was born in Santa Barbara, CA, into a Christian household. Even as a teen, her voice was undeniably beautiful. At 16 years old she released her debut album in 2001, Katy Hudson. The masses were not interested in her Christian Rock and only 200 copies were sold.

Years later she headed south down the Hollywood Freeway to nearby LA, integrated her mother's maiden name, and Katy Perry would be born again, so to speak, and foray into pop music.

Perry knew exactly what she wanted to sound like but the suits at Columbia, who signed her in 2004, dropped her in 2006 when they disagreed with her vision and proposed style.

Capitol Records gladly swooped her up and in 2008 and quickly "I Kissed A Girl" went #1 on the pop charts, followed by "Hot n Cold" which peaked at #3 and the One of the Boys album went on to sell over 7 million copies.

Turns out Katy was right to stick by her guns.

The 2010 follow-up, Teenage Dream, did even better, yielding five #1 singles including the title track, "California Gurls," and "Firework."

So in 2013 the question was, could she do it again? On September 17, 2013 Twitter users voted for "Dark Horse" to be the first promotional single for Prism. And like in Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, the audience is rarely wrong. The trap-influenced hit eventually would go on to reach 11x platinum.

A few days after the single dropped, Perry live debuted the single in Las Vegas at the iHeartRadio Music Festival, sharing the stage with Oscar-winning rapper Juicy J of Three 6 Mafia who contributed a verse to the song.

The pair would reunite again in 2014 for a harder rendition of the song at the Grammys where they were nominated for Best Pop Duo/Group Performance.

Despite her commercial success, Perry only has just two Grammy nominations, and zero wins.

But that would not be the only cloud around "Dark Horse." Later in 2014, the little known Christian rapper Flame sued Perry and her label for copyright infringement, alleging "Dark Horse" ripped off elements of his tune, "Joyful Noise."

In 2019, a federal court sided with Flame and awarded him $2.78 million in damages, of which Perry was ordered to pay over a half million dollars out of her own pocket.

Critics and music theory experts called foul.

Luckily for Katy, in 2020, the band Taurus had a similar copyright suit against Led Zeppelin that could have awarded the little-known US band many millions.

But an appeals court ruled the classic rock giants had not stolen elements for "Stairway to Heaven" from the band who had opened for them on a previous tour.

Perry's lawyers used that Zeppelin decision as the basis for their own appeal, and a judge agreed with them, vacating Flame's enormous award.

"Dark Horse," a song the fans immediately loved, which earned Katy Perry one of her two Grammy noms, and has sold millions of copies, has seen its video streamed over 3 billion times on YouTube.

Katy is wrapping up her Play: Las Vegas Residency with eight final shows in October at Resorts World on the Strip. Tickets are available at her website.

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Last updated: 21 Jun 2024, 16:57 Etc/UTC