Wide Awake (song)

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"Wide Awake"
Katy Perry - Wide Awake single cover.jpg
Single by Katy Perry
from the album Teenage Dream: The Complete Confection
ReleasedMay 22, 2012
Formatdigital download
StudioNightBird Recording Studios (West Hollywood, California)
Katy Perry singles chronology
"Part of Me"
"Wide Awake"
"Hummingbird Heartbeat"
Music video
"Wide Awake" on YouTube

"Wide Awake" is a song by American singer Katy Perry from Teenage Dream: The Complete Confection. She co-wrote the song with Max Martin, Bonnie McKee, and its producers Dr. Luke and Cirkut. It was specifically written for Perry's autobiographical film Katy Perry: Part of Me. Capitol Records released the song onto radio stations on May 22, 2012. The track is a power ballad styled in dance-pop, and features lyrics about the reality of a break up and moving forward.

"Wide Awake" became another commercial success for Perry, topping the charts in Canada and New Zealand while reaching number two in Lebanon and the United States. In America, the song was kept off the top spot by Carly Rae Jepsen's "Call Me Maybe". It also peaked within the top 10 in Australia, Hungary, Ireland, and the United Kingdom as well as the top 20 in Brazil, Italy, and Slovakia. The single's music video was directed by Lance Drake, and featured a fairy tale-like story, starring Perry and a child version of her. The video also makes references from Perry's Teenage Dream singles and the previous Complete Confection single "Part of Me".

Background and release[edit]

This song in particular is a dose of reality. It’s kind of like coming down from a high. You’ve been on cloud nine for so long, and it can’t always be so sweet and sometimes you need to realize that, and you have to pick yourself up and move forward and face the facts of life and know that this is just a lesson you learn and you're stronger because of it
— Perry on the theme of "Wide Awake" following its release.[1]

Perry co-wrote "Wide Awake" with Bonnie McKee, Max Martin, and its producers Cirkut and Dr. Luke. The production coordination was helmed by Irene Richter and Katie Mitzell. Recorded at NightBird Recording Studios in West Hollywood, California, it was engineered by Clint Gibbs, who was assisted by Angelo Caputo, and John Hanes, and was mixed by Serban Ghenea.[2]

According to Perry, "Wide Awake" was inspired by "major life changes", including her divorce from actor and comedian Russell Brand. In an interview with MTV News, Perry revealed, "Well, this song, I have a lot of different emotions and feelings in all of my songs. This song in particular is a dose of reality. It's kind of like coming down from a high. You’ve been on cloud nine for so long, and it can't always be so sweet and sometimes you need to realize that, and you have to pick yourself up and move forward and face the facts of life and know that this is just a lesson you learn and you're stronger because of it."[1] Initially Max Martin had produced a demo with the chorus being "No Matter What" however due to his accent Mckee, misheard the lyrics as "I'm Wide Awake/I'm Born Again and wrote the song around that hook.[3] McKee opined that the song represented Perry's departure from her previous releases.[4]

"Wide Awake" impacted US contemporary hit radio on May 22, 2012 through Capitol Records,[5] in support of Perry's autobiographical film Katy Perry: Part of Me.[6] The single's cover artwork was released on the same day via Perry's Twitter account,[7] featuring Perry with deep purple hair and multicolored lettering.[6]


"Wide Awake" is a midtempo dance-pop ballad.[8] "Wide Awake" has a relatively rare pop song chord construction: it uses a single 4-chord progression (Gm7-Bb9-F-C) which repeats throughout the entire length of the song and never changes (another example of a non-changing 4-chord progression song is U2's "With or Without You").[9] Written in the key of F major, the song has a metronome of 80 beats per minute. Perry's vocals on the song span from the low-note of C4 to the high-note of D5.[9]

"Wide Awake" is lyrically about the reality of a break up and moving on, which many have believed to have been written about Perry's ex-husband, Russell Brand, since it was written and recorded after the divorce.[10] Byron Flitsch from MTV stated that the downtempo melody of the song "highlights the song's introspective lyrics".[11] Robbie Daw of Idolator described the song's lyrics as "universally relatable".[12] Katy's Christian upbringing is also prominent on "Wide Awake", which references the concept of being born-again.[13]

Critical reception[edit]

Jody Rosen from Rolling Stone awarded "Wide Awake" three and a half stars out of five. He praised the song's composition, provided by Dr. Luke, Max Martin, and Bonnie McKee, and also felt it was, musically, a more comfortable side for Perry than "Part of Me".[14] Robert Copsey from Digital Spy commented that the song sees Perry in "reflective mode", and gave it four stars out of five.[15]

However, in an album review for Teenage Dream: The Complete Confection, Melissa Maerz from Entertainment Weekly was more critical of the song, deeming it a "weepie" and a "kind of bummer", along with "Part of Me".[16] In their list of "The 10 Best Guilty Pleasure Songs of 2012", Ernest Baker and Lauren Nostro from Complex listed "Wide Awake" at number 8, describing its beat as "sparse and contemplative", while describing it as Perry's 808s & Heartbreak in "one succinct take".[17]

"Wide Awake" was nominated for the Grammy Award for Best Pop Solo Performance at the 55th Annual Grammy Awards but lost to the live version of "Set Fire to the Rain" by Adele.

Chart performance[edit]

Perry (pictured) performing "Wide Awake".

In the United States, "Wide Awake" made its first appearance on the US Billboard Bubbling Under Hot 100 Singles chart at number 19 based on digital sales alone following the release of Teenage Dream: The Complete Confection. After Perry's performance on the 2012 Billboard Music Awards, it debuted on the Billboard Hot 100 at number 35 as the second highest debut of the week, behind Phillip Phillips' "Home".[18] The same week, the song debuted on multiple Billboard component charts – at number 29 on the Pop Songs and 35 on the Adult Pop Songs charts.[19] For the chart issue dated June 4, 2012, "Wide Awake" debuted at number 50 on the Dance/Club Play Songs chart as well as moving 5 spots on the Pop songs chart to number 20. The song reached the summit on the week of August 4, 2012.[20] On June 13, 2012, the single moved ten positions to nine on the Billboard Hot 100, and has sold 402,000 downloads.[21] The following week, the single reached number four, and on the chart dated August 11, 2012, it peaked at number two on the Billboard Hot 100, making the song Perry's eighth consecutive single to reach the top 3 of the chart since "California Gurls", as well as her first song to peak in the runner-up position. It was kept off the top spot by Carly Rae Jepsen's "Call Me Maybe". On the week August 4, 2012, the song topped the Hot Dance Club Songs chart, making her tenth consecutive number-one on the chart since 2009's "Waking Up in Vegas", extending her own record.[22] The song has sold 3.5 million copies in the nation as of January 2015.[23]

In Australia, the song debuted at number 26 on the Australian Singles Chart, and peaked at number 4, position it stayed in for three weeks.[24] In New Zealand, the song debuted at number 32, and peaked at number 1 on July 1, 2012, making it Perry's seventh single from the album Teenage Dream to peak inside the top ten, and her sixth song from the Teenage Dream era to take out the number one spot.[25] The song was then certified Gold by the Recording Industry Association of New Zealand (RIANZ). The song is the eighth song from Teenage Dream to enter the top ten, and the ninth consecutive top ten single since "Waking Up in Vegas" and its eleventh top ten overall. The song makes Perry the female artist with the most number ones on New Zealand (eight), passing the previous record of Mariah Carey with seven number 1 singles. In Canada, the song peaked at number 1, becoming her eighth single to do so. It also peaked at number 1 on the Canadian Adult Contemporary (AC), CHR/Top 40, and Hot AC airplay charts monitored by Nielsen Broadcast Data Systems. The song became the 21st best selling single in New Zealand of 2012.[26] In the United Kingdom, the song debuted at number 69 on the UK Singles Chart, due to strong downloads in April 2012. The song then re-entered at number 74 in May 2012. It has peaked at number 9, selling 24,545 copies in that country.[27] In Ireland, the song launched at number 30 and is currently peaking at number 6.[28]

Music video[edit]


In March 2012, Perry told MTV: "I know exactly what that music video is. I know exactly who is directing it. I know the art direction, the people, the narrative, and I had that idea while I was writing the song".[29] Filming of the official 3D music video for "Wide Awake" began on April 30, 2012 and ended on May 2, 2012.[30][31] The music video was directed by Tony T. Datis and was used as a tie-in promotion for her 2012 3D autobiographical documentary film, Katy Perry: Part of Me, as part of her deal with Pepsi.[32][33]

On June 12, 2012, an official trailer directed by Lance Drake,[34] was released on Perry's Vevo channel. It started with a girl flipping through a book which displays flashbacks of the Teenage Dream era, describing each of the singles as a 'chapter', with "Wide Awake" being 'the final chapter'. A second preview aired on June 13, 2012 during the season finale of the program Randy Jackson Presents: America's Best Dance Crew.[35]


Perry as she explores a crepuscular labyrinth with a lantern in the music video for "Wide Awake".

The video starts with Perry finishing shooting the topless cloud scene for the "California Gurls" video and going to her dressing room while talking with her assistant named John. She then takes off her wig, looks into the mirror, and the setting turns to a dark labyrinth, with Perry holding a lantern. The camera pans up to show the entire labyrinth, while also revealing a hill with light shining through the clouds onto it. Perry sees a strawberry, picks it off and eats it, and the walls close in on her. Perry pushes the walls, as a firework shoots from her chest into the dark sky. A door opens to reveal a younger version of Perry, and their hands touch. The two reach a mirror in which the younger Perry does not have a reflection, and paparazzi taking pictures (one of whom is dressed as Freddy Krueger) are seen behind the mirror. The floor begins to crumble as Perry finally shatters the mirror and the shards of the glass become butterflies.

The little girl is then seen pushing a wheelchair in which Perry sits in a hospital gown, trembling with the poisoned strawberry in one hand. In the hallway, they are met by two minotaur guards who block their way. The little girl furiously goes up to them and stomps her foot, sending the minotaurs flying. Perry gets up from the wheelchair, grabbing the little girl's hand as they run down the hallway to the exit. The doors open to reveal a garden. A man dressed as Prince Charming appears riding a unicorn, and walks to Perry with fingers crossed behind his back. Perry punches him in the face, sending him through the fence. Perry and the girl find a heart-shaped exit, and the two girls high-five. They hug each other before the little girl places something in Perry's closed fist. The little girl rides away into a suburban neighborhood on a bike with a license plate reading "Katheryn", which is Katy's birth name. Perry returns to her dressing room and opens her fist, revealing a butterfly. The camera pans to a concert stage where Perry stands on a rising platform, and sings the beginning bars of "Teenage Dream" to a full audience as the butterfly flies into the arena.[36][37]

Release and reception[edit]

The video was supposed to have its world premiere on June 19, 2012. However, the video was unexpectedly uploaded by EMI to the Czech website mixer.cz.[38] one day earlier. Due to this, it was announced that the June 19 premiere was being scrapped and that the release was pushed up to June 18, 2012 on MTV as part of MTV First: Katy Perry.[39] After the premiere, an exclusive 30-minute interview with Perry took place on MTV.com.[35] The music video was also shown on MTV’s sibling networks VH1, Logo and TeenNick. In addition, the video went into rotation immediately on mtvU, MTV Hits and AMTV the following morning.[40] Perry stated in an interview that the music video is symbolic of her life, where various scenes in the video are redolent of her rise to stardom, personal struggles, love and marriage.[41]

The music video was met with acclaim from most critics, with a number of them deeming it the best video to date from Perry.[42] E! Online opined in a Twitter status that they love the video and compared it to Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.[43] Rolling Stone gave the clip a positive review, praising its introspective nature, saying that 'though the clip recalls familiar looks, the video puts a new spin on it all, recasting every colorful look with a melancholy tone and a darker palette.'[44] Hollywoodlife felt that the video was inspiring, while calling Perry a symbol of strength.[45] Entertainment Weekly also credited the fantastical, whimsical vibe of the visual as Perry teams up with her younger self.[44] Perry received three nominations for the video at the 2012 MTV Video Music Awards, winning the prize for Best Art Direction.[46]

Lyric video[edit]

A lyric video of the track was released on May 20, 2012, when Perry was set to premiere the song at the 2012 Billboard Music Awards. The video implemented the use of the Facebook timeline and displayed a range of posts about the release of the Teenage Dream album, the seven singles (from "California Gurls" to "Part of Me") and the various achievements for the singles and the album.[47] The lyric video received positive reviews from critics with many praising Perry's different approach to lyric videos on YouTube. Contessa Gayles from AOL Music commented that the video "is practically a music video in itself".[48] Jenna Rubenstein from MTV Buzzworthty stated that "it's a clever and emotional way to recall her past successes and offer fans some closure on this chapter of the Katy Perry journey."[49]

Live performances[edit]

Perry performing "Wide Awake" in Berlin in 2015

Perry debuted the song in an acrobatic fashion for the first time during the 2012 Billboard Music Awards on May 20, 2012, where she floated over the stage in a white ribbon swing keeping her suspended in the air while several background dancers performed with aerial silk.[50] On June 17, 2012, Perry performed "Wide Awake" at 2012 MuchMusic Video Awards, in which she stood on a raised platform, beginning the song as a cocoon and turned into a butterfly when she sang the last chorus.[51] On June 26, Perry performed "Wide Awake" on Jimmy Kimmel Live!. Instead of taking the Kimmel stage, she performed a medley of her songs including "Wide Awake" into her Katy Perry: Part of Me premiere in Hollywood Boulevard in Los Angeles. For President Barack Obama's 2012 presidential candidacy, Perry performed several of her songs dressed as a ballot, including "Teenage Dream", "Firework", and "Wide Awake".[52][53] Expressing solidarity for his campaign, the box next to Obama's name was shaded.[52][53]

Credits and personnel[edit]

Recording locations

  • Recorded at NightBird Recording Studios (West Hollywood, California)
  • Mixed at MixStar Studios (Virginia Beach, California)




Region Certification Certified units/sales
Australia (ARIA)[106] 6× Platinum 420,000^
Canada (Music Canada)[107] 3× Platinum 240,000*
Denmark (IFPI Denmark)[108] Gold 15,000^
Italy (FIMI)[109] Platinum 30,000*
Mexico (AMPROFON)[110] Gold 30,000*
New Zealand (RMNZ)[111] Platinum 15,000*
United Kingdom (BPI)[113] Gold 325,000[112]
United States (RIAA)[115] 5× Platinum 3,500,000[114]
Venezuela (APFV)[116] 3× Platinum 30,000^

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone

Release history[edit]

Country Date Format
United States[5] May 22, 2012 Mainstream radio

See also[edit]


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