PHOTO: Getty Images/John Schearer
7 Things To Know About Katy Perry’s Perfectly Outrageous Vegas Residency
Perry’s Play, running through mid-August, is Las Vegas' newest over-the-top attraction and casts the singer as a doll struggling to find her place in the human world
It always seemed inevitable that Katy Perry would land in Vegas someday. All the biggest pop stars do these days, with casinos and venues offering lucrative residencies to everyone from Celine Dion to Britney Spears. But Perry has always had a Liberace level of camp running through her work, and it's easy to see how Vegas' taste for excess could lend itself to her sensibilities.
And boy, have they ever. Play, Perry's new residency at the Resorts World Theatre, is one of the most mind-expanding productions in recent memory. A sort of blend between "Pee-Wee's Playhouse" and Toy Story, Play finds Perry cast as a doll struggling to find her place in the human world. Play is strange, childlike and over-the-top — and everything is very, very Perry. We are talking about the woman who once wore a bra that doubled as a whipped cream cannon, after all.
With Perry's Play now extended through mid-August, thousands more people will be funneling through the show every week. Perry and her team have certainly made sure that audiences won't walk away from Play thinking they've seen it all before, so whether you're heading to Vegas yourself or just want to catch a glimpse at the show that's sure to push the touring and live industry forward, here are some of the takeaways from Perry's Las Vegas residency.
Expect the unexpected
It's always been true that you never quite know what you're going to get with Perry. Her imaginative music videos have always been appointment viewing, and her 2015 Super Bowl halftime show is still talked about as one of the most entertaining ever. Play pushes that notion even further.
Each of the show's five acts are set in a different tableau, with Perry's diminutive doll character dropped into oversized versions of a child's bedroom, bathroom and backyard, as well as a trash-strewn garbage can and a glamorized Vegas-style Busby Berkeley extravaganza. The set pieces are incredible, and Perry and her team play with them to great effect. (Perry created the show with Baz Halpin and Silent House Productions, who also did the singer's Super Bowl performance.) There's an enormous functional rocking horse, an overturned cereal box that becomes a stage, and even a 16-foot-tall toilet that actually comes to life.
And yes, there are puppets
Speaking of that toilet: The rumors are true. There is an enormous, talking and singing "poo-pet" that pops out of the bowl for a duet during "California Gurls." (It even has a corn kernel tooth.)
There's also a huge talking mask dubbed Mr. Maskie, and a cavalcade of dancing rubber ducks, plungers, toilet brushes, fashion dolls, phallic mushrooms, army men with comb guns, and a lengthy yellow extension cord that operates a little like a Lunar New Year dragon.
During the "Trashun" act, Perry sports a dress that's seemingly made from soda can pull tabs, and even taps one of her crushed beer can bra cups to pour herself a cold one.
Katy plays the hits…
Play's 95-minute runtime might not seem incredibly long, but Perry packs a lot of punch into that limited run. The set list is the same every night, and it's packed with all the hits, like "Dark Horse," "I Kissed A Girl" (in which Perry bumps and grinds on a sexy frog), "Swish Swish," "Teenage Dream," and "Roar." She closes with "Firework," complete with heart-shaped confetti, because of course she does. She also gets a few semi-deep cuts in, like 2008's "Hot N Cold" and "Lost," as well as her latest single, "When I'm Gone" and a cover of "The Greatest Love Of All."
…and she sounds fantastic
Lest anyone think Perry's occasionally cartoonish affect means she isn't a serious artist, Play is here to remind you that it's possible to have fun and still sing your goddamn heart out.
Perry's voice has never sounded better, thanks in part to the incredible L-Acoustics sound system installed in the Resorts World Theatre. It's something Perry could never really take with her on an arena tour where she'd have to worry about rigging and rafters, and it allows for an immersive 360-degree sound design that's not dissimilar from what you might hear in a movie theater or on an amusement park ride. The sound seemingly comes from everywhere, including below your seat, and Perry's voice is as clear and lovely as a bell.
Perry understands the Vegas mentality
There's a part of the show where Perry stops to tell the audience a story about how the Resorts World Theatre was built where the Stardust hotel and casino used to be. It was there, she said, that her grandmother and aunt worked decades ago, as a seamstress and showgirl, respectively. How wild, she muses, that she's come back to work on the same plot of land, blending and manifesting the work that they had sought to do.
It's a very sweet moment, but it also reminds us that Perry straight up understands Vegas. Just like her grandma, she knows that Sin City is about hard work, and that travelers come expecting a show. She's enlisted the very best dancers, directors, musicians, and crew to help her make all of that a reality, including three fashion designers — Zaldy, Johnny Wujek, and Heather Picchiottino — who are experienced in both the ballroom and drag worlds. These are people that understand what Perry's going for with Play, which is not just entertainment but whimsical fanaticism. She's there to put on a show with a capital S, and she was clearly willing to do the work to make it a reality.
Perry's hive has assembled
If you go to the show, get there early, because Perry's audience is perfect for people watching. There are decked out superfans in Perry-inspired red mushroom hats who have clearly seen the show more than a few times, and there are older people who are clearly just there because they wanted to see a show, no matter what it was. There are kids and there are bachelorette parties. There are drag queens, and there are dudes on dates. Perry's audience encapsulates a wide swath of society, but in the Play space, everyone lives and sings together in harmony.
Play is the future
While Perry has certain advantages with Play — a stationary space to build the show around, for instance — it's hard to see how the show won't affect the live music world at large. As ticket prices rise, audiences want to see more and more of a show. They want lights and video and once-in-a-lifetime experiences that feel spur of the moment.
Perry's show delivers all of that, and it sets the bar high not just for future Vegas residencies, but also for future arena tours. The way Perry plays with video to create depth of stage is inspiring, as is the creative way she's staged her band in stacked boxes to the side of the stage. Perry is playing outside the box here — no pun intended — and the industry would be wise to learn from her example.
Photo: Kevin Mazur/WireImage.com
The Week In Music: Elton Rocks Rush
The Rocket Man performs at talk show host Rush Limbaugh's fourth wedding
We're guessing he didn't play anything from his album A Single Man. According to a People.com report, flamboyant rocker Elton John was the musical guest (for a cool fee of $1 million) at conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh's fourth wedding, this one to 33-year-old Kathryn Rogers, who is reportedly a direct descendant of President John Adams. Regarding the couple's age difference, Rogers said, "I'm sometimes not able to relate to the average person my age." It would seem the 59-year-old Limbaugh is neither her age nor the average person.
Here's a concert that went to the dogs. Performance artist Laurie Anderson staged a show outside the Sydney Opera House for an audience of canine music lovers on June 5. The show took place as part of the city's Vivid Live festival, which is being co-curated by Anderson and her husband, Lou Reed, and featured music for mutts including high-pitch squeals and even sounds only dogs could hear. Anderson called the show, which was born from a conversation with cello master Yo-Yo Ma, "a highlight of my life." For man's best friend, it may have been the best dedicated music since the Singing Dogs' version of "Jingle Bells."
If you think Richard Wagner's "Ring" cycle — the four-part opera based on Teutonic and Norse mythology that can run as long as 15 hours over four nights for the full cycle — carries some pretty heavy artistic heft, you'd be right…and literally right. For a new Metropolitan Opera staging over the next two years, the Met had to install 65-foot steel girders to support the 45-ton set. This might make Wagner the biggest current heavy metal act in music. The opera is set to open Sept. 27.
Coldplay's own artistic heft just got heavier...and freakier. In 2002 guitarist Jonny Buckland and frontman Chris Martin starred as a murder-solving duo in Irish rock band Ash's self-made slasher flick, appropriately titled Slashed. Unfortunately, the project was shelved, but footage has made its way into the band's new video for "Binary." Meanwhile, Coldplay bassist Guy Berryman is steering clear of axe-wielding killer ghosts to restore Scandinavian furniture with his brother Mark. Berryman's Antiques specializes in tables, seating, cabinetry, and even a Swedish bridal chest. Customers who find their purchased antiques haunted should contact Buckland and Martin immediately.
Now you can love him tender, love him mashed, or even love him au gratin. The Elvis Presley estate has teamed with Hasbro and PPW Toys to launch an Elvis version of the classic Mr. Potato Head toy. The first release will be a Las Vegas jumpsuited Elvis, scheduled to debut during Elvis Week in Memphis, Tenn., in August, and will be followed by a leather-clad Elvis spud. The Elvis potato follows a Kiss version released last year.
Bon Jovi launched an impressive 12-night, sold-out residency at London's O2 Arena on June 7, marking a return to the venue they officially launched three years ago. The GRAMMY-winning New Jersey natives also recently christened their new hometown digs, New Meadowlands Stadium, with three concerts in late May. AEG Live is predicting tickets sales for the band's current tour will eclipse their 2007–2008 Lost Highway trek, which was Billboard's highest-grossing tour in 2008. Not bad for a band Rolling Stone magazine once described as a "bad fourth-generation metal, smudgy Xerox of Quiet Riot." Jon Bon Jovi's take? He recently smirked, "Like it or not, we're one of the biggest bands in the world." No word on a JBJ Mr. Potato Head, however.
Looks like international singing sensation Susan Boyle will be making a holy trip later this year. The Roman Catholic Church says Boyle will likely perform for Pope Benedict XVI at an open-air papal Mass in Glasgow's Bellahouston Park on Sept. 16. An unidentified spokesman said negotiations are still taking place. "Likely" and "negotiations still taking place"? Could be a tour rider issue brewing…
Have the the Melvins gone commercial? The band's latest album, The Bride Screamed Murder, sold 2,809 units this past week, good enough for the bottom spot on the Billboard 200 and marking the first time the Seattle indie rock legends have placed on the album chart in their 25-plus-year career. With another 2,000 units, they would have reached the chart's upper echelon and passed the likes of Beyoncé, Eminem, Michael Jackson, Nickelback, Pink Floyd, and Timbaland. Asked for his comment on the milestone, singer/guitarist Roger "Buzz" Osborne said, "Top 200 what?"
Katy Perry's "California Gurls," featuring Snoop Dogg, reclaimed the No. 1 position on the Billboard Hot 100 this week, as well as the top spot on the iTunes singles chart.
Any news we've missed? Comment below.
Pop Shines With 55th GRAMMY Nominations
This year's GRAMMY nominations are an eclectic, all-inclusive ensemble of nominees perfectly reflecting the wide variety of musical genres, tastes and trends that The Recording Academy celebrates.
Pop made a strong impact in the coveted General Field categories with nominations for Kelly Clarkson (Record Of The Year for "Stronger (What Doesn't Kill You"), Taylor Swift (Record Of The Year for her pop-tinged "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together") and Carly Rea Jepsen (Song Of The Year for "Call Me Maybe").
The nominations also marked a milestone for Fun., who received six nominations, including Record and Song Of The Year and Best Pop Duo/Group Performance for "We Are Young" featuring Janelle Monáe, and Album Of The Year and Best Pop Vocal Album for Some Nights. The Brooklyn, N.Y., trio also received a Best New Artist nomination.
"It feels good, very good," lead singer Nate Ruess said backstage at "The GRAMMY Nominations Concert Live!!" in Nashville on Dec. 5.
"American Idol" alum Clarkson is among the top female nominees with three nominations, including Best Pop Vocal Album for Stronger. Pink received a deserving nod in the Best Pop Vocal Album category for The Truth About Love, which hopefully opens the door to a performance during February's GRAMMY Awards telecast. (Side note: Pink's album features "Just Give Me A Reason," a duet with Ruess.)
It was a big night for British superstar Ed Sheeran, who grabbed a Song Of The Year nomination for "The A Team." Sheeran was overjoyed with the honor, tweeting, "I can't describe how happy I am."
GRAMMY winners Maroon 5 had a strong night with nominations for Overexposed, the group's self-proclaimed "most diverse and poppiest album yet," in the Best Pop Duo/Group Performance and Best Pop Vocal Album categories.
RedFoo and Sky Blu of LMFAO scooped up a Best Pop Duo/Group Performance nomination for their dance-pop confection "Sexy And I Know It," a deserving nomination for the world's most colorful party rockers.
Following a successful year for her GRAMMY-winning album 21, Adele's momentum is still going strong. The proud new mom picked up a nomination for her live performance of "Set Fire To The Rain" in the Best Pop Solo Performance category. Adele was nominated alongside Clarkson, Rihanna ("Where Have You Been"), Katy Perry ("Wide Awake"), and Jepsen, the latter of whom was quick to tweet that she was "over the moon excited" with the honor.
With exciting pop newcomers and veteran pop artists nominated in the General and Pop Fields, the GRAMMY Awards telecast on Feb. 10 will without a doubt be Music's Biggest Night and a terrific night for pop.
MusiCares MAP Fund Charity Auction Launched
GRAMMY Charity Online Auctions offers exclusive memorabilia from seventh annual MusiCares MAP Fund benefit
Following the seventh annual MusiCares MAP Fund benefit honoring Depeche Mode's Dave Gahan and Vans Warped Tour founder Kevin Lyman on May 6, GRAMMY Charity Online Auctions has launched the MusiCares MAP Fund Charity Auction. Presented in partnership with Kompolt, the auction is open through May 19 and features a variety of autographed music memorabilia, including items signed backstage at the MusiCares MAP Fund benefit concert by Linkin Park's Chester Bennington, Gahan and Paramore.
Additional auction items include a framed issue of Rolling Stone signed by the Rolling Stones' Mick Jagger; vintage memorabilia signed by Tony Bennett, Jackson Browne, Annie Lennox, Rod Stewart, and Barbra Streisand; guitars autographed by Kings Of Leon, Korn, Tom Petty, Kenny Rogers, and Keith Urban; unique memorabilia signed by Jeff Beck, Justin Bieber, Eminem, Lady Gaga, Bruno Mars, Muse, Katy Perry, and Rihanna; and a 54th Annual GRAMMY Awards VIP Experience for two including rehearsal passes and hotel accommodations.
To place your bid on items featured in the auction, visit www.ebay.com/grammy. All proceeds will benefit MusiCares and the GRAMMY Foundation.
Latin Album Sales Down In 2011, Adele Garners Most Radio Airplay
Latin Album Sales Down In 2011, Adele Garners Most Radio Airplay
Latin album sales in the United States and Puerto Rico decreased 4.3 percent to 11.8 million units in 2011, a smaller deficit compared to the 25 percent decline reported in 2010, according to Billboard.biz. The top-selling Latin album of the year was Prince Royce's Latin GRAMMY-nominated self-titled debut, which sold 186,000 units. Despite the decrease, sales of Latin digital albums reached 1.1 million units, up from 917,000 units in 2010, and sales of digital Latin tracks reached 20.6 million downloads, up from 18.8 million. In related year-end news, Adele's "Rolling In The Deep" garnered the most radio airplay in 2011, setting a Billboard record by appearing on 12 monitored airplay charts. Placing second was Pitbull's "Give Me Everything" featuring Afrojack, Nayer and Ne-Yo, followed by LMFAO's "Party Rock Anthem" featuring Lauren Bennett and GoonRock, and Katy Perry's "E.T." featuring Kanye West and "Firework." Perry won the title as the artist with the most radio airplay in 2011. (1/6)