2010 seemed to be an eventful year for Katy Perry on pretty much every front. She married Russell Brand in October, in a traditional Hindu ceremony in Rajasthan, India. Purr, her first perfume brand was released one month later, its name and design showcasing Perry’s love for cats. December saw her playing Moe Szyslak’s girlfriend in a special Christmas episode of The Simpsons.
Musically, it would be her most successful one to date. Teenage Dream, the pop star’s second album topped the charts in August, while the 3 singles that were released off it throughout 2010 all had the same fate. Firework was the last of them, a self-empowerment anthem that she wrote in collaboration with Ester Dean, Sandy Vee and the StarGate team. The last two played all the instruments and the song’s primary audience seems to be the LGBT community, more specifically, the It Gets Better Project, which fights discrimination against them. Perry stated via twitter: “I am officially dedicating my new video to #itgetsbetter, because everyone has the spark to be a FIREWORK.”
Katy Perry’s purpose with Firework was that of creating an anthem that’s equally universal through its message, yet at the same time doesn’t feel cheesy when delivered. When calling it the favorite song that she has ever written, Perry emphasized that balance that she was searching for: “I hope this could be one of those things where it’s like, ‘Yeah, I want to put my fist up and feel proud and feel strong. But I also don’t want to be cheesy, it’s a fine line, and I think Firework … would be like the opus or my one song — if I had to pick a song to play — ’cause it has a great beat. But it also has a fantastic message.” In another interview, she named a paragraph in Jack Kerouac’s classic novel On the Road as the direct inspiration for the song.
Firework spent 4 non-consecutive weeks at number one in Billboard Top 100, both times being dethroned by Bruno Mars’ Grenade.