Rappers, rock bands, and singer/songwriters will all hustle to capture the attention of Linda Perry when Make or Break: The Linda Perry Project premieres Wednesday night on VH1. The musical acts will be put through the reality competition paces with the hopes of landing a contract at Perry's record label. But just who is Linda Perry, and what qualifies her to judge?
Whether you know her by name or not, you're probably at least somewhat familiar with Perry's music, as she's been in the business for at least three decades. She first became a fixture on the music scene as the lead singer and songwriter of the band 4 Non Blondes. If you were listening to the radio in the early '90s, you should distinctly recall the "hey-yay-yay-yay" chorus of their biggest hit, "What's Up?" And though "What's Up?" may have been unavoidable at the time, there was never a follow-up — 4 Non Blondes only released one album.
After 4 Non Blondes, Perry embarked on a solo career, launched a record label (Rockstar Records), and got to work behind the scenes songwriting and producing. She's collaborated with Pink, Christina Aguilera, Gwen Stefani, Alicia Keys, and Ariana Grande. Your iPod is probably full of Perry's songs, especially if you have a thing for ladies with big personalities.
Here, let's take a look back at some of Perry's biggest hits.
First, Remember the Song That Put Her on the Map
Ahh, the '90s. Any alterna-girl likely has the image of Perry's Mad Hatter-plus-goggles headgear permanently burned into her brain. And yet, while it seemed at the time like "What's Up?" was everywhere, it only hit No. 14 on The Billboard Hot 100. Still, it gave Perry a reputation as a songwriter of note.
Now, Get the Party Started
Perry is credited on nine of the 14 songs on Pink's 2001 album, Missundaztood. Sometimes, she's listed as a cowriter with Pink, but "Get the Party Started" — along with "Lonely Girl" — are credited to Perry alone. Still, Perry and Pink make sense as collaborators because they both put strong female vocals front and center.
Words Can't Bring Her Down
Speaking of strong female vocals, there are few singers out there with voices as powerful as Christina Aguilera. It's easy to see why Perry would want to contribute five songs to Aguilera's album Stripped. And it's a good thing she did, too; Perry actually received a Grammy nomination for Song of the Year for her cowriting credit on "Beautiful," but it lost to Luther Vandross's "Dance with My Father." But Perry shouldn't feel too slighted, because Vandross also beat out Eminem's "Lose Yourself," which went on to win the Academy Award for Best Original Song that same year.
See Her with the Next Big Thing
Sure, Ariana Grande is superhot right now, with "Problem" being one of the most ubiquitous songs of the summer. But Perry was aboard the Ariana Grande train from the very beginning, cowriting her debut single, "Put Your Hearts Up." Bringing things full circle, "Put Your Hearts Up" actually samples "What's Up?"
Fingers crossed that Perry still has a good sense for picking a winning horse; the contestants on Make or Break depend on it.