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Katy Perry's Co-Writer on How "Roar" Looks Back to Pop Music's Past


Capitol RecordsKaty Perry's #1 hit "Roar" is an anthem of self-empowerment inspired by everything the singer has gone through recently.  But when it came time to write the lyrics, Katy looked to the past for inspiration.

Katy's co-writer on "Roar," Bonnie McKee, also co-wrote Katy's hits "Teenage Dream," "California Gurls," "Part of Me" and "Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F)."  She tells ABC News Radio that when they sat down to write "Roar," they incorporated lyrical ideas from other popular songs.  Among them: Queen's "We Are the Champions," Survivor's "Eye of the Tiger" and Helen Reddy's "I Am Woman."  So if some of it sounds familiar -- "I am a champion," "I've got the eye of the tiger" and "You’re gonna hear me roar" -- well, it's intentional.

"Definitely, 'I am woman/hear me roar' was a big influence for the song,'" Bonnie explains -- despite the fact that Katy and Bonnie weren't even born when Reddy's women's lib anthem topped the charts in 1972.  So how were they even aware of that song?

"My mom was a hippie back in the day, and she's a feminist," Bonnie explains. "And so you know I grew up knowing about all that stuff -- burning bras and whatnot!"

But Bonnie says she felt a bit uncomfortable using the "eye of the tiger" lyrics, from Survivor's #1 hit of the same name, in "Roar."

"When we first came up with the 'Eye of the Tiger' thing, I was kind of against it," she tells ABC News Radio. "'Cause I was just like, 'I dunno, this is already such a classic song, I just don't know if we can do it justice.'  But, you know, as long as it's a wink and a nod, and it's an ode to it, rather than trying to rip it off, then I think it's fine." 

As for the nod to "We Are the Champions," well, Queen is Katy's favorite group.  In fact, she named her latest fragrance Killer Queen after the legendary British band's classic tune.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio