Of all the news that came out of the build-up to Katy Perry’s new album Teenage Dream (including the ultra-sexy album cover, the list of potential collaborators and early leaks like “Circle the Drain”), the most intriguing (and bizarre) was the fact that the actual packaging was going to smell like cotton candy. When Perry first announced that particular detail, it not only seemed too gimmicky but also impossible. How was she going to pull that off, and what purpose would it actually serve?
Filled with skepticism, I ducked into a store on Wednesday afternoon (August 25) to test it out for myself. After locating the album in the section reserved for new releases (of which there were few — perhaps a good sign for Perry’s opening week sales), I managed to snag it. It’s rare that I’m even in music stores nowadays (and not for lack of trying — were you aware that New York City doesn’t even have an FYE any more?) and it’s even stranger that I’d be holding a copy of a brand new CD (most of the compact discs I buy are used, and most of my new music comes either digitally or on vinyl), so even the experience of exploring album packaging was strange and unfamiliar. It’s an impressive presentation (I especially like that there’s no writing on the front cover) and made me feel nostalgic for the days when I would pedal my bike to the local Coconuts to pick up Smashing Pumpkins’ Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness or Red Hot Chili Peppers’ One Hot Minute.
With one eyebrow still cocked firmly in disbelief, I took a sniff. (I did this unselfconsciously, though now I realize it probably looked a little odd that a grown man was sniffing a CD that prominently featured a nude woman on the cover.) To my pleasant surprise, it actually does smell like cotton candy (the scent is not unlike that artificial bubblegum smell you sometimes get, which is basically the same thing).
And here’s the rub: I was so taken with the experience and impressed by the gimmick that I actually bought a copy of the CD, even though I already owned a digital copy purchased the day before. I can’t imagine that there will be too many people who pick up a copy of Teenage Dream based solely on the way it smells, but Perry should be satisfied to know that her nose-friendly gambit paid off in at least one unit sold.