June 27, 2008 — -- First she sang for God. Then she kissed a girl — and she liked it.
Such is the contrast between Katy Hudson, Christian singer, and Katy Perry, chart-topper. Same girl, two stage names, two vastly different personas. And fans who loved the Katy who billed herself as the God-loving daughter of two pastors aren't pleased with her new image: Hip-shaking, lingerie-wearing, pseudo-lesbian pop star.
Born Kathryn Hudson, the now name-settled Katy Perry scored the dance song of the summer with "I Kissed a Girl" — not to be confused with Jill Souble's 1995 hit of the same name — currently at No. 2 on Billboard's Hot 100 chart. Perry's debut album with Capitol Records, "One of the Boys," dropped June 17 to similar success.
But this isn't her first foray into music. Back in 2001, at the tender age of 16, she released "Katy Hudson" with the now-defunct Christian music label Red Hill Records. Russ Breimeier, who reviewed the album for Christian Music Today, thought she showed promise.
"That album made our best albums list that year," he said. "She had a very creative sound for Christian music, more outside the box. I thought there was a lot of potential for her to develop into something more."
In his review, Breimeier noted that her lyrics weren't "quite brilliant," though they were "insightful." So goes the third verse to "Faith Won't Fail":
For He'll prevail
In the midst of all my trials and tribulations
And He'll prevail
In the midst of all my sin and temptations
But instead of sticking with Him on the road to righteousness, the newly minted Katy Perry, 23, hopped on the highway to pop stardom. First, she took on a new stage name to avoid confusion with that other Kate Hudson of the big screen.
Then, after picking up on mainstream music she recorded with production team The Matrix and released on her MySpace page, Blender magazine named Perry "the next big thing" in October 2004. In her interview with Blender, Perry confessed she wasn't "a typical Christian" and revealed she had done "lots of bad things" as a teenager.
Perhaps those bad things provided the inspiration for "I Kissed a Girl," which she released in April 2008 after signing with Capitol Records in early 2007. Now Katy sings:
No, I don't even know your name
It doesn't matter
You're my experimental game
Just human nature
It's not what good girls do
Not how they should behave
My head gets so confused
Hard to obey
I kissed a girl and I liked it
Those lyrics sound tame next to those from another "One of the Boys" hit, "Ur So Gay":
I hope you hang yourself with your H&M scarf
While jacking off listening to Mozart
Perry's Christian fans aren't sure what to think.
"I just think it's interesting that seven years ago she had a Christian album and what she's doing now is clearly not Christian," said Joanne Brokaw, who blogs about Christian music for Beliefnet.com. "I get the sense that maybe she was engaged in rebellious behavior back then. I just wonder what the decision was — did people not really know or were they looking the other way?"
"It seems like ever since the name change, she's gotten this rep as a party girl," Breimeier added. "You can still hear some of the talent that was there before, but it just sounds like she's doing whatever she can to get noticed," he said. "And that's unfortunate. I feel bad for her folks."
Katy's publicist declined ABCNEWS.com's repeated requests for comment.
Of course, it's not unusual for musicians to start out in the Christian circuit and later flee for mainstream success. Alternative-rockers Evanescence did it; so did the band Lifehouse and, perhaps most famously, '90s pop princess Amy Grant.
But while all of them maintained a straight-laced image in the music industry — at least compared to their counterparts who didn't cut their teeth in the Christian circle — Perry seems to be jumping at the chance to be a sexpot pop star, the next Britney Spears or Cristina Aguilera.
"The thing about her is that she decided to leave that scene behind," said Joe Levy, editor in chief of Blender magazine. "I don't think she fits in with other Christian music artists who transition to pop success. She didn't transition — she stopped dead, reinvented herself, became an artist who has nothing to do with Christian music. It's a footnote in her career. It looks like who she is now is who she wants to be, slightly outrageous and very cute. And right now that's working."
Indeed it is. "One of the Boys" debuted at No. 9 on the Billboard album charts and sold 47,000 in its first week. But sales figures aside, Breimeier believes that in the long run, Perry might have been better off sticking with her pastors' daughter persona.
"If she had relied on the talent without going for the shock value, that would've been great," he said. "But instead I think she's going to be a flash in the pan."