Bonnie McKee

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Bonnie McKee
McKee at The Citadel Outlets' 12th Annual Tree Lighting Concert in Commerce, California on November 9, 2013
Background information
Birth name Bonnie Leigh McKee
Born (1984-01-20) January 20, 1984 (age 32)
Vacaville, California, U.S.
Origin Seattle, Washington, U.S.
Genres Pop, dance-pop, synthpop, pop rock
Occupation(s) Singer, songwriter
Instruments Vocals, piano
Years active 2002–present
Labels Reprise, Epic, Kemosabe

Bonnie Leigh McKee (born January 20, 1984) is an American singer and songwriter. Her debut album, Trouble, was released in September 2004 under Reprise Records.[1] After being dropped by Reprise several years after its release, McKee had taken a musical hiatus before establishing a name for herself as a songwriter. McKee has co-written eight singles that have reached #1 in the United States or the United Kingdom,[2][3][4][5][6] which have sold more than 30 million copies worldwide combined.[7][8][9][10] After sometime of focusing on songwriting, McKee released "American Girl" in July 2013.[11] Her second studio album is scheduled for release in 2015. American Girl was intended for her second studio album but after leaving her label in late 2014 after creative differences, it is unknown whether or not American Girl will appear anywhere else.

McKee is particularly known for collaborating with pop singer Katy Perry, and the duo have co-written the hits "California Gurls," "Teenage Dream," "Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.)," "Part of Me," "Wide Awake," and "Roar" together. McKee also co-wrote "Dynamite" by Taio Cruz, which became the second best-selling song by a British artist in the digital era.[12]

Early life[edit]


Bonnie Leigh McKee was born in Vacaville, California and raised in Seattle, Washington.[13] She studied classical piano and became a member of the Seattle Girls Choir Prime Voci at age 12, and toured with the choir throughout North America and Europe. She recorded two albums with the choir, titled Jackson Berkey Meets The Seattle Girls' Choir and Cantate 2000.[14] She briefly attended The Bush School, where she recorded a demo as part of a class project, before being kicked out soon after.[15] At age 12, McKee's mother gave a demo CD featuring her singing Bette Midler and Fiona Apple songs to a friend of hers, the co-founder of the Sub Pop label, Jonathon Poneman, who was intrigued by her songwriting talents. According to McKee, this was the moment when she realized she had to be "more than just a singer," but a songwriter as well.[13]


2004–05: Career beginnings and Trouble[edit]

By age 15, McKee was writing songs and performing in the Seattle area. McKee’s raw demo tape got to Colin Filkow, an ex-Priority Records label executive. Filkow recognized that she was a rare talent and signed her to his management company, Platinum Partners Artist Management in Beverly Hills. He flew her to Los Angeles, California, and welcomed her into his family, she was only 17 at the time. He inspired her to sing and write songs and to trust her instincts. Filkow took Bonnie's demo to dozens of labels, publishers, agents and entertainment lawyers. After more than a year Filkow signed Bonnie to Warner Bros Records in one of the most lucrative signings ever for a new artist.

Her debut album Trouble was produced by Rob Cavallo and commercially released on September 28, 2004.[1] McKee performed the single "Somebody" on Jimmy Kimmel Live!, and the song was featured in the motion picture Win a Date with Tad Hamilton! The music video for "Somebody" was directed by Wayne Isham, and was featured on MTV's Buzzworthy and VH1's You Oughta Know. Trouble received positive reviews in Blender, Nylon, The Los Angeles Times, and Teen People, but was commercially unsuccessful. McKee spoke about the album being unsuccessful, saying "It was devastating when the album didn't happen," she said.[16] "I realized there are so many steps from getting a deal to having a hit...and I didn't get there. It was a huge letdown."[16] McKee began work on a second studio album, which never came to existence.[15] According to McKee, she "downward-spiraled" and began to abuse crystal meth, an addiction she struggled with for several years.[17] She was dropped from the label after defacing the CEO's car with lipstick during the middle of the night.[17]

2006–13: Songwriting career[edit]

Following her release from Reprise Records, McKee spent many hours in the recording studio, learning how to use Pro Tools and crafting new songs. In 2009, McKee was introduced to music producer Dr. Luke, by her manager Josh Abraham. Dr. Luke had collaborated with McKee's longtime friend Katy Perry on her second album One of the Boys. Together, they (along with Max Martin and Benny Blanco) began writing songs, ultimately producing the hits that would appear on Perry's third album, Teenage Dream. McKee co-wrote three singles from the album, "California Gurls," "Teenage Dream" and "Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F)" each of which topped the Billboard Hot 100 chart,[18][19] also earning McKee several BMI Pop Awards in 2011 and 2012 for her role as a songwriter.[20][21] McKee also co-wrote Britney Spears' "Hold It Against Me," Taio Cruz's "Dynamite," Rita Ora's "How We Do (Party)," as well as "Wide Awake" and "Part of Me" by Katy Perry.

Mckee wrote "I Dont Care" for British artist Cheryl Fernandez-Versini which charted at number 1, making Cheryl the UK's most successful female artist of all time.

McKee performing live in Commerce, California, on November 9, 2013

In 2012, McKee co-wrote two songs that appeared on Adam Lambert's album Trespassing, which debuted at #1 on the Billboard 200 Album Chart.[22] She appeared as a featured performer on "Thunder" from Rusko's album Songs, released on Mad Decent.[23] During this time, she signed a recording contract with Epic Records.[24] She had garnered attention for her fashion sense, appearing on E!'s Fashion Police,[25] and appearing on the pages of the New York Times, New York Post, and Schön! Magazine. In 2013, McKee was awarded with three more BMI Pop awards for her songwriting work on Katy Perry's "Wide Awake" and "Part of Me" as well as Britney Spears' "Hold It Against Me."[26]

McKee performing on the KIIS Jingle Ball Village Stage at Staples Center in Los Angeles, California, in 2013

McKee's first single under Epic Records was "American Girl", which was released on July 23, 2013.[27] She posted a promotional video for "American Girl" on YouTube in June 2013 which garnered 2.3 million views. The official music video for the song was released on July 22, 2013.[28] In October, McKee released a new song titled "Sleepwalker." McKee confirmed that the song was not a single, but rather an "inbetweengle," a portmanteau meaning "in between single," meant to tide fans over until her next official release.[29] The music video premiered on October 17, 2013 and starred McKee and Kelsey Chow.[30] McKee had spent several years under a joint deal between Epic and Kemosabe Records and had planned to release her second studio album in the Summer of 2014. A second single titled "S.L.A.Y." was performed at multiple venues and while she was on tour with Karmin on their Pulses Tour, but was delayed many times and eventually not released. McKee left Epic and Kemosabe Records after feeling she had a lack of control over her career and the creative direction that she wanted to take.

2014–present: Bombastic[edit]

On December 18, 2014, McKee released a song called "California Winter" on to her SoundCloud and iTunes.[31] This song not having Kemosabe or Epic Records' name attached to it on iTunes caused people to question whether or not she had been dropped or left. On April 12, 2015, in an interview with Ultimate Music she announced she had departed from her Epic Records. McKee stated that this was because she favors her being an independent artist because she felt controlled and like she had no creative freedom. She said that she is releasing her second extended play in June. She also stated her intentions for it to be a visual EP. One song titled "Wasted Youth" has been announced and has already had its music video filmed. At the Billboard Music Awards 2015, McKee revealed in an interview that Charlie Puth (a close friend), who she had previously worked with on her song California Winter, had co-written her next single which she also said would be released in the next week. This single is believed to be called "Bombastic" as teased on her Instagram page. A snippet for "Bombastic" as well as another song "In The Wild" recently leaked onto the internet. The video for "Bombastic" released onto Bonnie's VEVO account on May 26, 2015. McKee is set to appear in Eden xo's music video for her single "The Weekend". McKee plays "Cinderella". The Bombastic EP was released on June 30, being her first album release since her 2004 debut Trouble. On July 1, McKee announced on a live stream she was trying to get back the rights to the songs she had previously recorded with her late label Epic Records so she could finally get to release them, she also confirmed physical copies of the Bombastic EP were being released in the coming months. For Christmas celebration, McKee released a special called "California Winter Extravaganza" in her YouTube account in December 16, which features Ferras, Sarah Hudson, Lindsey Stirling, Todrick Hall, Karmin, Eden xo, Paper Pilots and Bridget Marquardt.[32]

Personal life[edit]

McKee identifies as bisexual, stating on an episode of In Bed with Joan "I think it's one of those things where, you know, I think all little girls kind of play 'doctor' with their girlfriends, and then I kind of never grew out of it."[33]


Musical style and image[edit]

Cher (pictured) has been cited by McKee as her biggest musical influence.

During her early career around 2004, McKee had mainly sang slow pop songs with some containing soul and R&B influences. As she had begun to release more music onto her MySpace page in 2008, after being dropped by Reprise Records, that fell into the teen pop genre. In 2011, several of McKee's demos were leaked including one called "Gasoline" (that was later given to Britney Spears for her album Femme Fatale) that contained more electronic influences and a more mature sound compared to her previous works. McKee's first official since 2004, "American Girl" obtained a more synthpop-dance sound and so did her follow up song "Sleepwalker". A year later in 2014, McKee had begun playing a song titled "S.L.A.Y." which departed even farther away from her original pop sound than her previous releases, although this song was never officially released.

During McKee's early career, she had red hair and would usually wear simple clothing like jeans and tank tops on red carpets or the occasional dress. As McKee became older, she had become more eccentric and fashionable. During the early 2010s, McKee had begun adding blonde streaks into her hair and eventually began ombring her hair with blonde on the top and red on the bottom. She had eventually added yellow and pink which she had begun constantly being noted for by reporters. Her flamboyant, usually americana influenced outfits had also gained her praise. During late 2014, McKee had ditched her signature red-orange-pink ombre for pink and sometimes blonde hair. Her new videos feature her in more 80's fashion influences.


McKee is mainly influenced by Cher and Madonna, stating on the Ustream: "I love Cher, I hope I have the longevity she's had in her career. I love how she's done TV, acting, and singing. I basically love her and also Madonna, she basically raised me."[34] McKee has also cited Mariah Carey, Tina Turner, Blondie, Michael Jackson, and Whitney Houston as major influences on her while she was growing up.[35]

Awards and nominations[edit]

BMI Pop Music Awards

  • 2013 ("Part of Me," Katy Perry)
  • 2013 ("Wide Awake," Katy Perry)
  • 2013 ("Hold It Against Me," Britney Spears)
  • 2012 ("Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.)," Katy Perry)
  • 2012 ("Teenage Dream," Katy Perry)
  • 2012 ("Dynamite," Taio Cruz)
  • 2011 (“Dynamite,” Taio Cruz)
  • 2011 (“California Gurls," Katy Perry)

Grammy Awards


Studio albums
Extended plays


Opening act



Year Title Role Notes
2001 All Cheerleaders Die Marquita Fector
2004 Win a Date with Tad Hamilton! Herself Uncredited
2007 August Rush Lizzy
2012 Katy Perry: Part of Me Herself Uncredited
2015 California Winter Extravaganza Herself Short film
2016 The Bride-To-Be Annie Pre-production


Year Title Role Notes
2004 American Dreams Janis Joplin Episode: "Shoot the Moon"
2009 CSI: NY Eleanor Ravelle Episode: "Help"
2012 Fashion Police Herself

Web series[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
2013 Breaking Bonnie Herself Main role; 6 episodes
2014 In Bed with Joan Herself Episode: "Bonnie McKee"

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Johnny Loftus (2004-09-07). "Trouble - Bonnie McKee : Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards". AllMusic. Retrieved 2014-06-29. 
  2. ^ "Katy Perry Closing In On Michael Jackson's #1 Singles Record - Music, Celebrity, Artist News". 2011-06-24. Retrieved 2014-06-29. 
  3. ^ Britney Spears 'Hold It Against Me' hits #1 spot - PopWrap Archived November 28, 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^
  5. ^ "Rita Ora bags third consecutive UK #1 single with 'How We Do' :Toya'z World // Urban Pop Culture at your Beck & Call…". Retrieved 2014-06-29. 
  6. ^ Trust, Gary (2013-09-04). "Katy Perry Dethrones Robin Thicke Atop Hot 100". Billboard. Retrieved 2013-10-03. 
  7. ^ "Katy Perry Breaks Own Digital Sales Record With 'Last Friday Night,' Closing in on Michael Jackson No. 1s Record | Billboard". 2011-06-24. Retrieved 2014-06-29. 
  8. ^ "Country Days Of Summer - May 21, 2013". RIAA. Retrieved 2014-06-29. 
  9. ^ [1] Archived November 3, 2012 at the Wayback Machine
  10. ^ Trust, Gary (2013-09-11). "Katy Perry Rules Hot 100 For Second Week Lorde Reaches Top 3". Billboard. Retrieved 2013-10-03. 
  11. ^ "iTunes - Music - American Girl - Single by Bonnie McKee". Retrieved 26 November 2013. 
  12. ^ "The Nielsen Company & Billboard’s 2011 Music Industry Report". Business Wire. 2012-01-05. Retrieved 2014-06-29. 
  13. ^ a b "Bonnie McKee, ABC TV Show Music & Songs by Artist". ABC. Retrieved 19 December 2013. 
  14. ^ &#8250 Stephanie Laurens. "Cantate 2000: Seattle Girls Choir, Jerome Wright (Conductor), Jackson Berkey (Composer), Jackson Berkey, Seattle Girls¿ Choir ¿ Prime Voci" "Carrie Brady" "Helen L". Retrieved 2014-06-29. 
  15. ^ a b Fallon, Kevin. "Bonnie McKee Strikes Out on Her Own". NewsWeek. Retrieved 19 December 2013. 
  16. ^ a b Kawashima, Dale. "Hot Songwriter Bonnie McKee Writes Hits with Katy Perry and Taio Cruz, Readies Her Own Album". SongWriterUniverse. Retrieved 13 June 2014.  External link in |website= (help)
  17. ^ a b Diehl, Matt. "Singles Lady: Bonnie McKee Is Looking Out For Number One". Billboard. Retrieved 19 December 2013. 
  18. ^ "KATY PERRY'S TEENAGE DREAM IS THE NO. 1 ALBUM IN THE U.S. | Radio FactsRadio Facts". Retrieved 2014-06-29. 
  19. ^ Matthew Perpetua (2011-01-05). "Katy Perry Sells Most Digital Singles in Dismal Year For Record Sales | Music News". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2014-06-29. 
  20. ^ "2011 BMI Pop Music Award List | Press". 2011-05-18. Retrieved 2014-06-29. 
  21. ^ "Carole King Named BMI Icon at 60th Annual BMI Pop Awards | News". 2012-05-16. Retrieved 2014-06-29. 
  22. ^ "Adam Lambert Scores First No. 1 Album on Billboard 200 With 'Trespassing' | Billboard". Retrieved 2014-06-29. 
  23. ^ Jason Lymangrover (2012-03-26). "Songs - Rusko : Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards". AllMusic. Retrieved 2014-06-29. 
  24. ^ "Bonnie McKee, 'Teenage Dream' Co-Writer, Signs With Epic Records". The Hollywood Reporter. 2012-04-21. Retrieved 2014-06-29. 
  25. ^ "Fashion Police Show: A Style Perp Fights Back! on Fashion Police". E! Online. 2014-06-25. Retrieved 2014-06-29. 
  26. ^ BMI (2013-05-15). "Adam Levine and Top Songwriters Honored at 61st Annual BMI Pop Awards". Broadcast Music, Inc. Retrieved 2013-06-04. 
  27. ^ "iTunes - Music - American Girl - Single by Bonnie McKee". 2013-07-23. Retrieved 2014-06-29. 
  28. ^ Rubenstein, Jenna Hally. "New Video: Bonnie McKee, 'American Girl'". MTV. Retrieved 19 December 2013. 
  29. ^ Davis, Rebecca Willa. "NYLON MAGAZINE". Nylon. Retrieved 19 December 2013. 
  30. ^ "Bonnie McKee - Sleepwalker (Official)". YouTube. Retrieved 19 December 2013. 
  31. ^
  32. ^ Wass, Mike (December 17, 2015). "Bonnie McKee’s ‘California Winter Extravaganza’ Features Ferras, Sarah Hudson & Lindsey Stirling: Watch". Idolator. Retrieved December 20, 2015. 
  33. ^ "Bonnie McKee Opens Up About Being Bisexual". Huffington Post. Retrieved 14 February 2014. 
  34. ^ Template:Youtube video
  35. ^ McDonough, Megan (11 August 2013). "Bonnie McKee on songwriting, her upcoming debut album and her hopes for the future". The Washington Post. Retrieved 30 June 2015. 

External links[edit]