Hillary Clinton, too, has felt like a plastic bag.
For four decades as a politician she’s been drifting through the wind, ready to start again. And Thursday night, the first female presidential candidate from a major party in American history owned the night like it was the Fourth of July. Delivering an epic speech, dressed to the nines in Olivia Pope-chic, she let her colors burst. She showed ’em what she’s worth.
She made ’em go “oh, oh, oh.”
Hillary Clinton’s historic night at the Democratic National Convention was loudly and, to some, hilariously, soundtracked by Katy Perry, capping an entire primary campaign with Perry’s candy-colored spunk serving as the long slog’s ambient sound.
After Clinton took her place in history Thursday night, the final voice that we heard belonged to the pop star who kissed a girl and liked it, and who was once married to Russell Brand—a comedian who rose to the global spotlight for dressing like Osama Bin Laden, the terrorist whose death has been touted on the campaign trail as one of Clinton’s greatest accomplishments, for Halloween as a joke.
Perry’s hit “Firework,” a disposable pop earworm that has, due to its omnipresence, been co-opted for occasions of patriotism, blared from the speakers as Clinton rousingly signed off, “God bless the United States of America.”
And it was Perry who had the honor of being the last of many (many) celebrities and entertainers to stump and perform for the DNC crowd before Chelsea Clinton took the stage to introduce her mom, the presidential nominee.
It’s a pairing as odd and seemingly ill-fitting as...well, as Hillary Clinton and Katy Perry. But to the bitter end it’s proved to be a fruitful one.
The flamboyant pop manifestation of a cupcake arrived in Philadelphia understated Thursday night, wearing a figure-hugging silver dress and loose, cascading hair in a color that actually exists in nature.
She gave a cute speech, reminded us all that she’s been a staunch and valuable campaigner, and, perhaps most significantly, finally united Bernie Bros and #ImWithHer diehards alike in a singalong to her song “Roar.”
It’s seemed in these conventions that a casual mention in the pages of Us Weekly was all that’s required to muster an invite to speak.
Famous millennial Chloe Grace Moretz? She got a plum Thursday night slot, speaking as the voice of all those whipper-snappers who are the worst. Lena Dunham and America Ferrera? Sure, they’re political. Tony Goldwyn? OK, he plays a politician on Scandal. Demi Lovato? Hillary Clinton is most definitely cool for the summer.
They’ve all acquitted themselves nicely and powerfully, armed with buzzy and resonant things to say, with personal stories that explained why they’re #WithHer.
Perry came with a great story, too.
“Both of my parents are pastors, and staunch Republicans,” she began. Good lede, Kathy!
“I didn’t finish high school and unfortunately I don't have a formal education. But I do have an open mind and I have a voice.”
She explained that families are allowed to disagree on politics. They’re allowed to evolve in their ideologies. Crucially, that a person of faith and a born-and-raised conservative can vote Democrat with a conscience.
“On November 8 you’ll be just as powerful as any NRA lobbyist,” she continued. “You’ll have just as much say as any billionaire. Or you can just cancel out your weird cousin’s vote if you like. It’s not where you come from it’s what you grow into.”
She refers to Clinton as HRC, suitably geeking out over her celebrity stature the way someone would talk about, uh, knowing Katy Perry. Then she reminded us that she has been on the road with Clinton since Iowa. Over a year ago.
It’s been a long journey from there to the Philadelphia podium. But an unforgettable one. A seriously unforgettable one. Seriously, who could forget the image: Katy Perry, standing next to Hillary Clinton about to perform, wearing a white floor-length gown and a star-spangled head wrap, Elizabeth Taylor at a Memorial Day barbecue.
Since we’ve all stifled a chuckle at every campaign stop, every talk show appearance on the Hillary Clinton Relatability Tour, when the now-presidential nominee sat and, to her best ability, professed that her favorite music is “anything Katy Perry.”
Honestly, any modern artist she’d have said would summon a laugh. And it’s not just Hillary’s plight. President Obama might be the only president in history you’d actually believe when he says he is a fan of the super-famous celebrity singers, the ones dominating the charts, who stumped for him.
It doesn’t stop them from doing it. Even if they’re not trying to convince us of their hipness by assuring us they love Demi Lovato’s new album, they at least have an obligation to entertain those who are fundraising for them with decent music.
That’s why Hillary Clinton enlisted the likes of Alicia Keys, Andra Day, Paul Simon, and Lady Gaga to perform for DNC crowds. They all bring with them caché, gravitas, meaningfulness.
Those are three words that you don’t ordinarily associate with Katy Perry, the performer who got the most prestigious slot.
But that’s because Perry brings, in addition to her irresistible bubblegum blockbusters (#sorrynotsorry “Roar” is my jam), an unprecedented social reach. Literally unprecedented.
Katy Perry is literally the most followed person on Twitter, with 90 million followers.
For all of the celebration or criticism, depending on who you talk to, of Donald Trump’s hashtag-campaigning and inescapable Twitter presence, Clinton’s most dedicated celebrity campaigner has a whopping nine times the followers of the Donald. Huge!
But Katy Perry isn’t just a political tool. This isn’t disingenuous for her.
She’s actually been admirably political, even if you write her off as a celebrity using politics as a publicity platform. She campaigned hard for Obama during the last election and, better yet, never lost herself while doing so, famously performing in patriotic-themed costumes that she designed.
If Chloe Grace Moretz was invited to Philadelphia to provide a jolt of millennial energy, imagine the electric shock that having Katy Perry perform gave them. At the very least, on social media. #YaaasWeCan, amiright?
Perry sang her new song, “Rise,” which any Kitty Cat will tell you sucks. But Perry, fiddling with her ear monitors to prove it, sang the pseudo-inspirational ballad live and sounded legitimately great. “Roar” quickly followed, stimulating the crowd just enough to get them through Chelsea Clinton’s somnambulant introduction.
Then, nearly two hours later, “Firework” blared. Katy Perry, once ridiculed as a beacon for the decline of artistry and the rise of manufacturing in music, soundtracked cultural history.
Hillary Clinton, a candidate lambasted for a cold, reserved personality. Katy Perry, a pop star who once shot whipped cream from her bra.
The greatest politician-pop star team we’ve seen.