Who Am I Living For?
Song by Katy Perry
Album Teenage Dream
Released August 24, 2010
Recorded The Boom Boom Boom
(Burbank, California);
Henson Recording Studios
(Los Angeles, California)
Genre Electro-R&B
Length 4:11
Label Capitol
Producer Perry, Stewart

"Who Am I Living For?" is a song by American recording artist Katy Perry taken from her third studio album Teenage Dream (2010). It was written by Katy Perry, Christopher "Tricky" Stewart, Brian Thomas, and Monte Neuble and produced by the former two. The song's development was inspired by Perry's religious upbringing.

Containing elements of dubstep and glitch, the downbeat gospel-tinged electro-R&B and electro rock ballad received generally mixed reviews from critics, who praised its dark composition and emotional tone, as well as comparing it to Rihanna and Linda Perry. Lyrically, the song retells the biblical story of Esther; the Jewish Queen of Persia who discovered and foiled King Haman's plan to massacre the Jewish community in Persia. Critics drew comparisons from the story to Perry's own life, who said that "Who Am I Living For?" speaks of her "constant battle between staying true to her faith, and falling down in the perils of a celebrity lifestyle." A dramatic dubstep beat, electric and acoustic guitar riffs, glitchy synths, and wailing vocal techniques make up the songs "edgy" atmosphere.

Writing and meaningEdit

Prior to recording Teenage Dream, Perry discussed with Rolling Stone her plans for the album, stating that she would "definitely keep it pop", in order to not "alienate" her fanbase.[1] Perry began recording the album on October 13, 2009, stating that she had "lots of layers to get through, thankfully Greg Wells is there to do the peeling". Work on the album involved collaborating with numerous artists and producers including Wells,[2] Guy Sigsworth,[2] Dr. Luke,[2] Max Martin,[2][3] Ryan Tedder,[4] Rivers Cuomo,[3] Thaddis "Kuk" Harrell,[5] Greg Kurstin, Benny Blanco, Darkchild, Cathy Dennis, Ester Dean, The-Dream and Christopher "Tricky" Stewart, who told Rap-Up magazine in December 2009 that the sound of the album would be pop and rock, like One of the Boys, though calling it a "different gear" for himself.[6] Recording for the album finished on April 30, 2010. The album cover is a painting by Will Cotton, and was premiered on July 21, 2010 via a live webstream with Cotton, at his Art Studio.[7][8] On July 23, 2010, the album's official track listing was posted on Perry's official website.[9]

While being interviewed by MTV Asia, Perry was asked how having Christian parents influenced her music, which she using "Who Am I Living For?" as an example:

"I guess where I come from is still inside of me and nipping at my heels everyday. There’s a song on my new record which talks about my convictions – it’s a song called “Who Am I Living For”. It’s interesting along the road in the path of life, I meet a lot of different people who come from so many different places and they really kind of influence and inspire who I am.

I definitely continue to want to know the answers and have my own personal pilgrimage, so in a way it does affect what I do musically and who I am as an entertainer but there’s still a lot of me in that as well. I think probably one of the things that is most important in life is not collecting all this stuff or trying to be as famous as possible but to worry about your soul and your spirit and what’s happening next."[10]


"Who Am I Living For?" is a slow-paced electro-R&B ballad, which also heavily utilizes the genres of electro rock and dubstep.[11][12][13] The song also draws influence from gospel, glitch, and downbeat music.[14][15] "Who Am I Living For?" is written in the key of A minor, and the tempo moves at 63 beats per minute over a slow beat.[16] Perry's vocals in the song range from the low note of G3 to the higher note of D5.[16] The songs edgy suspense-filled atmosphere is composed of a dramatic dubstep beat, electric and acoustic guitar riffs, and glitchy beats,[11][17][14][18] with Perry's vocals on the song using a "wailing" technique, which was critically praised for showcasing her strong voice.[14]

Lyrically, "Who Am I Living For?" recalls Perry's Christian roots and retells the biblical story of Esther, the Jewish Queen of Persia; who discovered and foiled King Haman's plan to massacre the Jewish community.[19][17] Rob Sheffield of Rolling Stone spoke of the song, saying: "Her Christian back story only comes up once, in "Who Am I Living For," where Perry riffs on the biblical story of Esther, the Jewish orphan who married the Persian king and uncovered a plot to exterminate the Jews. It's dark and compelling, especially since she sings it like Rihanna."[17] Melissa Garcia of the website OCReloaded interpreted the lyrics as Perry's "constant battle between staying true to her faith, and falling down in the perils of a celebrity lifestyle.", and went on to further add that the song "shows an honest insight into a fight that is endless and unyielding in every sense."[19] Perry's vocals on "Who Am I Living For?" have been described as some of the strongest on the album, partially due to the "wailing" vocal technique that she uses.[14]

Critical receptionEdit

"Who Am I Living For?" received generally mixed reviews from critics, some of whom felt that the song was a standout on Teenage Dream, while others criticized it as trying too hard.[13] Click Music reviewer Shefali Srivastava declared the song as a stand out moment on the album, while later going on to describe it as anthemic, and enjoyed seeing Perry take a "particularly defiant turn."[13] Matthew Cole of Slant Magazine criticized Perry's vocals on the song, saying that it "is a one-note wallow in self-pity, weighed down by clichéd lyrics, a leaden beat, and a tone-deaf vocal turn from Perry."[20]

Credits and personnelEdit

Credits adapted from the Teenage Dream liner notes.[21]

  • Vocals - Katy Perry
  • Songwriting – Katy Perry, Christopher Stewart, Monte Neuble, Brian Thomas
  • Production, instruments, programming  – Tricky Stewart
  • Vocal engineering and recording – Katy Perry
  • Assistant vocal recording – Jennifer Rosales
  • Engineering – Brian "B-LUV" Thomas, Andrew Weupper
  • Assistant engineering – Pat Thralf, Luis Navarro, Steven Dennis, Mark Gray, Jason Sherwood, Randy Urbanski
  • Mixing – Jaycen Joshua
  • Assistant mixing engineer – Giancarlo Lino
  • Guitar – Katy Perry, Chris O'Ryan, Andrew Weupper
  • Keyboards – Christopher Stewart, Monte Neuble
  • Drums  Christopher Stewart, Brian Thomas


Upon the release of Teenage Dream, "Who Am I Living For?" debuted and peaked at number 158 on the issue date of January 3, 2010, on the South Korea Gaon International Songs Chart.

Chart (2010) Peak
Flag of South Korea South Korea[22] 158


  1. Radio Industry News, Music Industry Updates, Arbitron Ratings, Music News and more!. FMQB (May 20, 2009). Retrieved on May 23, 2010.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Kreps, Daniel (May 19, 2009). Katy Perry Talks Pop Plans for Next LP, Dispels Personal Rumors. Rolling Stone. Retrieved on May 5, 2010.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Vena, Joceyln (March 29, 2010). Katy Perry's Next Album Could Include West Coast Rappers, Best Friends. MTV(CA). BellMedia. Retrieved on May 12, 2010.
  4. Shriver, Jerry (January 28, 2010). "Ryan Tedder's time is right now". USA Today. Retrieved May 5, 2010.
  5. Mitchell, Gail (March 19, 2010). "Songwriter Harrell expands his hitmaking business". Reuters. Retrieved July 22, 2010.
  6. Copsey, Robert (November 9, 2009). Music – News – Katy Perry 'working with Beyoncé producer’. Digital Spy. Retrieved on May 5, 2010.
  7. KATY PERRY // Official Website // news. (July 13, 2010). Retrieved on July 22, 2010.
  8. USTREAM. Retrieved on July 21, 2010.
  9. KATY PERRY // Official Website // "Teenage Dream" Official Tracks Revealed!. Retrieved on July 26, 2010.
  10. Chong, Madeleine (July 31, 2010). Katy Perry Interview: The girl next door is all grown up. MTV Asia. Viacom International. Retrieved on August 8, 2012.
  11. 11.0 11.1 Shepard, Julianne (November 4, 2011). 8 Musicians Making New Music to Occupy Wall Street. 'AlterNet'. Independent Media Institute. Retrieved on August 26, 2012.
  12. Album review: Katy Perry - Teenage Dream. Fife Today. Johnston Press (August 26, 2012). Retrieved on October 1, 2012.
  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 SRIVASTAVA, SHEFALI (August 30, 2010). Katy Perry - Teenage Dream. 'ClickMusic'. ClickMusic Inc. Retrieved on October 23, 2012.
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 14.3 Thorogood, Tom (August 27, 2010). Katy Perry Teenage Dream Track By Track. 'MTV News'. Viacom. Retrieved on October 23, 2012.
  15. Kot, Greg (August 23, 2011). Katy Perry: Ditzy girl gone wild. Chicago Tribune. Tribune Company. Retrieved on October 23, 2012.
  16. 16.0 16.1 Katy Perry – Who Am I Living For? Sheet Music (Digital Download). ''. Sony-ATV Music Publishing. Retrieved on August 8, 2012.
  17. 17.0 17.1 17.2 Sheffield, Rob (August 23, 2010). Teenage Dream by Katy Perry | Music Reviews. Rolling Stone. Wenner Media LLC.. Retrieved on August 23, 2010.
  18. Empire, Kitty (August 22, 2010). Katy Perry: Teenage Dream. The Guardian. Guardian Media Group. Retrieved on October 30, 2012.
  19. 19.0 19.1 Garcia, Melissa (August 29, 2010). Music In Review: Katy Perry - Teenage Dream. OC Reloaded. OC Reloaded. Retrieved on October 1, 2012.
  20. Cole, Matthew (August 22, 2010). Katy Perry - Teenage Dream. Slant Magazine. Slant Magazine. Retrieved on October 30, 2012.
  21. Template:Cite album-notes
  22. South Korea Gaon International Chart (Week, August 29, 2010 to September 4, 2010) (Korean) (To access the applicable chart, change "년 (Year)" to "2010" and select the week). Gaon Chart. Retrieved on August 8, 2012.

External linksEdit

Template:Katy Perry songs

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