No. 4: Katy Perry

From tongue-in-cheek singer/songwriter to full-fledged superstar, Katy Perry has blasted into the pop stratosphere in 2011 — and has the stats (and hair) to prove it.

Smashing records
While she didn’t win any Grammys, despite having been nominated for the past three years, Perry climbed ahead of some of the top names in music this year. She received the most 2011 VMA nominations (nine) and took home three awards, including Video of the Year for “Firework.” Even more impressive, she tied with Michael Jackson for having the most singles from the same album hit No.1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. If her sixth single, “The One That Got Away,” climbs to No. 1, it will crown Katy Perry as the new record holder.

And the record breaking didn’t end there: In digital downloads, Perry dominated the competition, being the first artist to reach 4 million downloads for four songs from the same album (five songs total, including “I Kissed a Girl” from her previous record) and the first to have more than 300,000 downloads in one week for four singles.

Color chameleon
Perry’s candy-coated makeover for her “Teenage Dreams” album helped grab people’s attention to earn her spot in this year’s Top 10 list. Though her hair is naturally blond, her detour from her signature jet-black ‘do has moved on to a slew of color changes. This year alone, Perry has gone black, blond, red, and lavender. She sported an electric-blue wig last year, but this year her color changes were done on her real hair. Her chameleon coif and consistently fun performance and red carpet looks put her right alongside daring celebrity fashionistas Lady Gaga and Nicki Minaj.

Unlike most other pop stars, Perry kept an endearing balance of coy, sexy, and goofy. She created a 13-year-old ’90s alter ego named Kathy Beth Terry, complete with nerdy oversize glasses, headgear, braces, scrunchies, and a Twitter account. She committed to the persona in the weeks leading up to the release of her “Last Friday Night” music video that featured ’80s stars Debbie Gibson and Corey Feldman, ’90s hitmakers Hanson and Kenny G, and, of course, the Internet’s own girl Friday, Rebecca Black (whose reviled tune made Yahoo!’s 2011 Obsessions list).

Perry ’12
The singer expanded to a triple threat this year, honing her acting skills by making a guest appearance on “How I Met Your Mother,” appearing in a cameo in “The Muppets,” and voicing the character of Smurfette in “The Smurfs.” That last gig earned her a nod for the 2012 People’s Choice Award for Favorite Animated Movie Voice.

What’s in store for the next year? Perry already leads in People’s Choice Award nominations with seven, including Favorite Music Video and Favorite Female Artist. No news has been announced about a new album or another tour (only one stop has been scheduled for 2012 so far). The married singer has expressed interest in having children, saying “that’s one of the reasons you get married,” but she’s “not sure it’s time yet.” Not to make any predictions, but a break between tours and albums could just be the perfect time.

Tiffany Lee is a Los Angeles-based writer and assistant editor at Yahoo! Music. She has been published in several print and online publications interviewing actors, designers, and musicians; has worked at record labels small and large; and had a weekly show as a college DJ. On the side, she designs jewelry and blogs about fashion, arts, and culture at KidViskous. You also might’ve seen her in a few music videos, but she doesn’t want to talk about it. Follow her on Twitter.

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