Today, sugary pop confection Katy Perry told Rolling Stone the early details of her very first headlining arena tour, the California Dreams World Tour. She promises a bounty of the usual pop candy—more than a dozen costume changes, Pink’s tour director, a Broadway storyline and, of course, “pizzazz.” But what made our nostrils stand at attention was her promise to bring actual smells on the road with her! Says Perry: “It's the first concert that's going to smell good. It's going to smell like you're in cotton candy heaven.”
In honor of the Olfactory Girl’s long-awaited arena stinkstravaganza, we decided to look at the long and history of smells in rock. Sniff it and see:
1972: Brit invasion (uh, via Cleveland) rockers The Raspberries release their debut album complete with a scratch and sniff cover that smells like—you guessed it—Raspberries. After 30 years stinking up the “R” section of everyone’s record collections, the scratch and sniff trend has returned in its full smelly glory—check out Cake’s 2007 B-Sides and Rarities, or the Lemonheads’ lemony 2009 album Varshons, or even Perry’s own Teenage Dream (it reeks of cotton candy and Elmo’s tears).
1977: Lynyrd Skynryd releases rock’s definitive ode to the fourth sense, “That Smell.” The track is was written in the midst of guitarist Allen Collins struggling with drugs—the smell refers to the smell of cooking heroin and how it can compel a former user to begin using again. Here’s praying Perry does not pump that smell into any arenas.
1991: Nirvana releases “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” a track whose legacy has clearly outshined the smell that inspired it. Frontman Kurt Cobain’s then-girlfriend Tobi Vail was partial to Mennen’s popular Teen Spirit deodorant. Picking up on their relationship, Vail's Bikini Kill bandmate Kathleen Hanna spray-painted “Kurt Smells Like Teen Spirit” on the wall and soon it became history’s best use of a recycled Boston riff. According to the deodorant’s official website: if a rash develops discontinue use. Punk rock in action, folks!
2004: Christina Aguilera launches her first of many frangrances, XPose Glamour. Top notes are fruity and peach; middle notes are jasmine and violet; base notes are melisma and skank.
2009: The port-o-potty outside Bob Dylan’s Malibu home stinks so bad that neighbors start complaining. Gossip columnists have unmatched field day with “Blowin’ In The Wind.”
2011: Perry announces she will bombard audience with the odor of cotton candy. A nation yearns for the days when their concert jacket smelled like bad weed.