Is Katy Perry's New Breakup Single a Coincidence—or Totally Not?

Is "The One That Got Away?" about anyone in particular?

By Leslie Gornstein Jan 06, 2012 2:00 AMTags
Katy Perry, American Music AwardsRick Rowell/ABC

Isn't it a coincidence that Katy Perry's song "The One That Got Away" is on the air right now? I just downloaded it last night.
—Heidi T., via Facebook

You mean did Perry—quite a savvy little one, as we all know—deliberately time her single to somehow capitalize on her breakup with Russell Brand? I wouldn't put that past some people. So I looked into it for you ...

...and the answer is, probably not.

These days, labels decide on release schedules months and months in advance, usually before an album is even released, and often before the songs are even done. Perry recorded this single in 2010—probably before she even married Brand, in October of that year.

During that recording period—maybe even during the demo stage—Perry's label was likely already previewing the single for radio and TV executives to see how they liked it and to discuss when it should be released, a music marketing expert tells me.

"The label probably had a pretty good idea of when they wanted to release this single when she turned in her album," my marketer says. "If nothing else, they started introducing the single to radio months ago."

In other words, if Perry really did time this single release to coincide with a breakup, it's a breakup she probably had to plan before she was even married. And that's evil.

All that said, some singles have been rushed to release to capitalize on big news. But the impetus is usually political, not romantic. In May of 1970, four unarmed students at Kent State University were killed after members of the Ohio National Guard opened fire on a crowd during a protest. The incident outraged plenty of people, including the folks in the band Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. They recorded the protest song "Ohio" at the end of that month, and their label released the single a mere month later.

And if you think that's fast, consider: the 1984 Band-Aid collaboration "Do They Know It's Christmas," which was created to raise money to fight African famine, was recorded and released in three days. Really.