In 2011, no one shined as brightly as Katy Perry. It's hard to think back on the past 12 months without getting one of her songs stuck in your head.

As MTV's Artist of the Year, Katy found success by unapologetically being herself. She sang about aliens, her foggy memories of house parties, lost love, true love, being yourself and everything in between. It's easy for fans to connect to Perry and her music: She's an open book. And in 2011, she turned a few more pages.

Riding high off the success of 2010's Teenage Dream, Perry didn't rest on her laurels. Instead, she set the bar even higher by hitting the road on the California Dreams Tour, where night after night, decked out in candy-colored clothes, she belted out her greatest hits and empowered her fans with tracks like "Firework." That anthem, originally released late last year, became so ubiquitous this year that it finds itself at #10 on MTV's Best Songs of 2011 list.

Visually, she always wanted to keep us guessing. She continually made music videos that were cinematic, tickling our funny bones at times (see: "Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.)") and leaving us nostalgic at others (see: "The One That Got Away").

In August, she took home the VMA for Video of the Year for — you guessed it — "Firework." Perry told the audience at the show, "I feel like I am doing something right when I sing that song. So thanks to everyone who helped to create it." That same night, she also nabbed the Moonman for Best Collaboration for her Kanye West-assisted track, "E.T."

Perry is one of the new millennium's biggest pop stars, and she matched some of pop's greatest icons on the charts this year. She tied Billboard records previously held by Michael Jackson and later one held by Janet Jackson and George Michael by having so many hit singles off one album.

But we weren't just talking about Perry's music this year. She made us giggle with an LOL-worthy hosting stint on "SNL" and made her big-screen debut voicing the iconic Smurfette in "The Smurfs." Offscreen, she's proved to be the kind of girl that can laugh off rumors that she's pregnant and getting divorced. She's loud, cool and a real girl's girl.

It's no easy task to sum up Katy Perry's year. And all those accomplishments make it clear that she's our girl. What would 2011 have been without Katy? It's a 2011 we want nothing to do with.

Stick with MTV as we count down the Best of 2011, including the top Artists, Songs, Live Performances and EDM Artists of the year.