Firework (song)

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"Firework"
A woman with a firework hair like a boy and a white background and the brown letter is 'Katy Perry' and the orange letter is 'FIREWORK'
Single by Katy Perry
from the album Teenage Dream
Released October 18, 2010
Format
Recorded 2009 at Roc the Mic Studios (New York City, New York)
Genre Disco rock
Length 3:48
Label Capitol
Writer(s)
Producer(s)
Katy Perry singles chronology
"Teenage Dream"
(2010)
"Firework"
(2010)
"E.T."
(2011)
Music video
"Firework" on YouTube

"Firework" is a song by American singer Katy Perry from her third studio album, Teenage Dream (2010). Perry co-wrote the song with its producers, StarGate and Sandy Vee, with additional writing from Ester Dean. The song is a self-empowerment anthem with inspirational lyrics, and was considered by Perry as an important song for her on Teenage Dream.

"Firework" received mostly positive reviews from music critics, with some noting its catchy melody and danceable beat and comparing it to songs by English band Coldplay. The song was commercially successful, reaching the top spot on Billboard Hot 100 and the top five on 20 charts around the world. The song was released on October 18, 2010 by Capitol Records as the third single from the album. As of December 2012, the song has sold over 6 million copies in the US alone, making Perry the only artist with three songs topping the 6 million mark.[1] It is also the best selling song that was a third single or older, that wasn't a part of a re-release. On the week ending of January 8, 2011, "Firework" sold 509,000 digital downloads in the US, which is the sixth highest amount ever sold by a female artist behind Taylor Swift's "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together" (623,000), Kesha's "Tik Tok" (610,000), Perry's own "Roar" (557,000), Swift's "Shake It Off", tied with Lady Gaga's "Born This Way" (509,000) and the tenth highest sales week overall. The song is the third consecutive number-one single of the same album; the last female singer who achieved this was Monica in 1998.

An accompanying music video, directed by Dave Meyers, was released on October 28, 2010. It portrays Perry singing and dancing around Budapest, with interspersed scenes of young people becoming confident in themselves. An open casting call for the music video drew an unprecedented 38,000 applicants. On MuchMusic's top 50 videos of 2010, "Firework" reached the top position. The music video was said to be a more upbeat take on Christina Aguilera's message in "Beautiful". It was nominated for three awards at the 2011 MTV Video Music Awards, eventually winning one of those, the Video of the Year, the main and final award. "Firework" was nominated for Record of the Year and Best Pop Solo Performance at the 54th Grammy Awards. On January 5, 2012, "Firework" was elected the fifth most played single on U.S. radio during 2011 by Nielsen Broadcast Data Systems, with 509,000 plays.[2]

Background and composition[edit]

A sample of Katy Perry's "Firework" features Perry singing over a catchy melody and danceable beat.

Problems playing this file? See media help.

"Firework" was written by Perry, StarGate, Sandy Wilhelm, and Ester Dean while produced by StarGate and Sandy Vee at Soapbox Studios in Atlanta, Georgia. It was recorded at Roc the Mic Studios in 2009. It was mixed at The Bunker Studios by Vee. Audio engineering was done by Carlos Oyandel and Damien Lewis. All instruments were done by StarGate and Vee. Lead and background vocals were provided by Perry.[3] Perry said that "Firework" is her favorite song on Teenage Dream.[4] She explained that:

"Now, people are coming back and almost adopting it as their own anthem, and it's hard, I think, to write an anthem that's not cheesy, and I hope that this could be something in that category. 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. Many people refer to the lines 'like the 4th of July; however the original lyrics were 'like a firefly' as they reminded me of fireworks at night whenever I saw them. However the trend caught on and in live performances I now sing 4th of July, which happens to make great sense for the song name."[4]

"Firework" is a disco-rock song,[5] influenced by electro house, dance-rock, and Europop.[6][7][8] The song is composed in the key of A♭ major and is set in time signature of common time with a tempo of 124 beats per minute. Perry's vocal range spans from G♭3 to E♭5.[9] According to Perry, "Firework" is influenced by Jack Kerouac's novel, On the Road.[10]

Critical response[edit]

The song received mostly positive reviews. Slant Magazine stated that the song is "not an actively painful listen. Sure, the would-be inspirational lyrics ('Baby you're a firework/Come on show them what you're worth') are nonsensical, and the vocal lines, which sound like they were written for someone like Leona Lewis, are well beyond Perry's capabilities, but the chorus gains some momentum and the song would work well enough in a club setting that you could forgive its otherwise glaring weaknesses."[11] Stephen Thomas Erlewine of AllMusic chose "Firework" among the top tracks on the album,[12] Nick Levine of Digital Spy gave the song five out of five stars, calling it writing, "a straight up self-empowerment anthem wrapped in a Coldplay-on-poppers club banger from the Stargate team."[13] PopMatters wrote that "Firework" is "the record's last hurrah; though nothing particularly memorable.....'Firework' has at least a bit of staying power".[14] The Washington Post described the song as "too mushy".[15] Al Fox of BBC Music said that the song "displays a breezy maturity and serious set of pipes, a true demonstration of Perry's musicianship without contradicting the kittenish mischief of the bigger picture."[16] The song was nominated for Record of the Year at the 54th Grammy Awards.

Chart performance[edit]

In the United States, "Firework" debuted at position 57 on the issue dated November 6, 2010.[17] It peaked at number one on the Billboard Hot 100, becoming Perry's fourth number-one single in the US and third number-one single from the album. This made Perry the first female artist since Monica in 1998–1999 to have three consecutive singles from an album top the chart. It spent four non-consecutive weeks at number-one on the Hot 100.[18] The song topped on Hot Dance Club Songs, Pop chart, Adult Pop Songs and Adult Contemporary chart.[19] On the week ending January 8, 2011, "Firework" sold 509,000 digital downloads in the US which is tied with Lady Gaga's Born This Way as the sixth highest amount ever sold by a female artist behind Taylor Swift's "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together" (623,000) and Kesha's "Tik Tok" (610,000), Swift's "I Knew You Were Trouble" (582,000), Perry's own "Roar" (557,000), Swift's "Shake It Off" and ninth highest overall.[20] The song was certified five times platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) for the shipment of 5 million copies across the United States.[21] The song is Perry's fifth single to do so, making her the artist with the most singles to sell 3 million copies or more.[22] "Firework" is one of six of Perry's songs to top 5 million paid downloads, the others being "Hot n Cold", E.T., "California Gurls", "Roar" and Dark Horse, and she is the first artist in digital history to sell 5 million or more copies of six different hits.[23][24] As of July 2014, the song has sold 6,668,000 copies in the US alone making it her highest selling single in the US.[25][26]

In Canada, "Firework" debuted at number 51 on the Canadian Hot 100 issue dated November 6, 2010[27] and reached number one on December 18, 2010.[28] On October 31, 2010, "Firework" debuted at number 37 in Australia on the official ARIA Singles Chart[29] and moved to number 15 the next week.[30] It peaked at number three and was certified six times platinum by the Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA) for sales over 350,000 copies.[31][32] The song debuted at number 34 in New Zealand on October 4, 2010[33] and reached number one.[34] The song entered at number five on the UK Singles Chart and peaked at number three.[35] It has been certified platinum for the shipment of 600,000 copies.[36] As of May 2014, "Firework" has sold 1,000,900 copies in the United Kingdom becoming her best selling single there.[37] Across Europe, the song reached the top five in Germany, Austria, Belgium, Italy, Norway, Sweden, and Switzerland, while reaching the top ten in France and the Netherlands.[38]

Music video[edit]

Development and release[edit]

Perry dancing with others at the Buda Castle with fireworks bursting from them

The video is part of a cross-promotional deal with European telecommunications group Deutsche Telekom. Deutsche Telekom hosted a series of activities and competitions from which fans around Europe would be recruited to be in the video.[39] MTV reported that Perry started filming the video on September 28, 2010.[4] The video was directed by Dave Meyers and shot in Budapest.[40] The official teaser trailer of the music video was released on October 15, 2010.[41] An open casting call for the music video drew an unprecedented 38,000 applicants.[42] Perry dedicated it to the It Gets Better Project.[43] The video was released on TwitVid, DirectLyrics and Youku on October 28, 2010. It premiered on October 28, 2010 on YouTube, and has a current view-count of more than 430 million. It was presented in the anamorphic widescreen 2.35:1 aspect ratio.

Synopsis[edit]

Perry opens the video gazing down upon the city from a balcony. As she sings into the night, fireworks burst from her soul[44] and soon inspire young people throughout the city to overcome their fears and insecurities, in the process igniting their own fireworks. A shy overweight girl, playing the role of wallflower at a pool party, finds the courage to shed her clothes and jump in the pool with her friends. A leukemia patient at a children's hospital proves to herself that she can show herself out on the street and in public despite her loss of hair. A teenage boy approaches his male friend at a party and kisses him on the mouth. A struggling young performer walking home in a dark alley uses tricks from his magic act to win over a group of street toughs who were trying to rob him. A boy confronts his fighting parents and pushes them apart because their shouting is upsetting his little sister. Soon the youth of the city are converging upon the courtyard of Buda Castle, dancing and lighting up the night with their fireworks.

Reception[edit]

On MuchMusic's top 50 videos of 2010, "Firework" was ranked #1.[45] The video won Video of the Year at the 2011 MTV Video Music Awards, and was nominated for Best Female Video and the newly introduced Best Video with a Message category. In Britain, the video was censored for television.[46]

Live performances[edit]

Perry performing the song on her California Dreams Tour

Perry performed "Firework" live for the first time on the Late Show with David Letterman on August 24, 2010.[47] On October 17, 2010 she performed the song on The X Factor in the United Kingdom,[48] followed by a performance of the song at the MTV Europe Music Awards 2010 held in Madrid, Spain on November 7, 2010, in an outdoor performance in the front of Puerta de Alcalá monument. Perry also performed the song again in the United Kingdom, this time on the chat show Paul O'Grady Live on November 12, 2010, the BBC Radio 1 Teen Awards on November 14, 2010 and at the American Music Awards of 2010. She performed "Firework" at the 2010 annual Victoria's Secret Fashion Show which aired on November 30, 2010.[49] Perry's performance of "Firework" on Willkommen bei Mario Barth aired December 4, 2010 in Germany, a performance that was recorded in October 2010.[50] She appeared on The Ellen DeGeneres Show on December 8, 2010 to perform an acoustic version of the song.[51] Also, she performed the song in the 2010 VH1 Divas show at the closing of the event. Perry also performed the acoustic version on the 12th Annual A Home for the Holidays special on CBS.

On May 1, 2011, Perry sang "Firework" at the 53rd TV Week Logie Awards in Australia. The song is featured on the set list of the California Dreams Tour. Perry performed the song at as part of a Live Lounge special for BBC Radio 1's Fearne Cotton on March 19, 2012 along with "Part of Me", "The One That Got Away", "Thinking of You" and "Niggas in Paris". On October 13, 2012, Perry performed the song as a duet with Jodi DiPiazza, an 11-year-old girl with autism, as part of the Night of Too Many Stars benefit, later broadcast on Comedy Central.[52] For Obama's 2012 presidential candidacy, Perry performed several of her hit songs dressed as a ballot, including "Teenage Dream", "Firework", and "Wide Awake".[53][54] Expressing solidarity for his campaign, the box next to Obama's name was shaded.[53][54]

Cover versions and usage in media[edit]

Track listing[edit]

  • Digital download[64]
  1. "Firework" – 3:47
  2. "Firework" (Music video) – 3:55
  • German CD single[65]
  1. "Firework" – 3:48
  2. "Firework" (Instrumental) – 3:51

Personnel[edit]

Credits adapted from the Teenage Dream liner notes.[3]

Charts and certifications[edit]

Radio add dates and release history[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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External links[edit]

Awards and achievements
Preceded by
"Bad Romance" by Lady Gaga
MTV Video Music Award for Video of the Year
2011
Succeeded by
"We Found Love" by Rihanna (featuring Calvin Harris)