Did you hear the one about the former Christian recording artist and daughter of a pastor who sold her soul to the devil? Well, at least, that’s what the rumors are. Katy Perry’s recent performance on the Grammys has some people talking about whether or not she is one of those who has made a deal with the devil. Some are claiming that the rituals that she took part in during the performance were satanic.
The whole notion of one “selling their soul to the devil” goes back to the story of blues legend, Robert Johnson. It was down at the crossroads that the whole thing went down, and since then, there have always been rumors of one artist or another who, in desperation, has made a deal with the devil.
This is nothing new to the world of pop music. I remember growing up and hearing about the evils of rock and roll music. Back in the 80’s there was a phenomenon that was under the microscope called “backmasking.” People claimed that if you listened to certain records backwards, you could hear secret messages that had been placed there, either intentionally or unintentionally. Of course, the possibility of unintentional messages lying within music only confirmed some people’s suspicions that these groups were evil.
I think that sometimes people forget that music is a business just like so many other things. The primary driver behind business is making money. Some might actually say that finding new and different ways to make money and being willing to do whatever it takes to do so is equivalent to selling one’s soul. But the old adage is true, no publicity is bad publicity. Whenever you can somehow get your name in the news, you are always going to draw attention to yourself, and when you’re an actor or a musician or someone who is in the public limelight, you’re going to seize every opportunity that might come your way.
So, is Katy Perry a devil worshipper who sold her soul to the devil? Or is it that she simply wants to shock and draw more attention to herself? Attention and exposure sells records, and that seems to be the bottom line. Controversy sells, it gets your name in the papers with big headlines, so why not do things that will make that happen if that’s your bottom line?
There has always been and most likely always will be a fine line in the arts community, be it music or painting or writing, between doing things for yourself and your art versus doing things to make a living and actually sell product. Depending on where you look, it’s fairly evident that the arts community as a whole has struggled with this, embracing the controversial in the name of “art” while knowing full well that the controversy draws attention.
Over and over again, I need to remind myself when I write that it’s not so much about the quantity of people reading it but about the quality of what I write. It’s a constant struggle that I don’t always get right, but at least I am aware of the struggle.
There are many more things that can be said about Katy Perry, especially regarding the influence that she is to so many thousands of young girls. She can claim that she is not a role model, like so many other before her have claimed, but that claim just doesn’t stick. She’s just trying to sell records and in many ways is the proverbial prodigal child, trying to shock her parents in swinging the pendulum to the extreme of how she was raised. Pastor’s kids are different animals though, but that’s a post for another day.