It’s impossible to find anyone who doesn’t know the name Michael Jackson. Even if you’re not a hardcore pop fan, the infectious beats, offbeat personality and inexplicably suave dance moves of Jackson have kept him in the public’s mind for years and years. When you ask someone who Katy Perry is, the reaction and knowledge might not be the same, but surely a good number of people know the girl who kissed another girl and liked it.

And now she’s carving her place into the pop world by becoming the first person since Jackson to have the most No. 1 tracks from a single album, which Jackson achieved with Bad. The tunes that have dropped like sprinkles and candy from Perry’s Teenage Dream have just pushed her fame into a new phase altogether.

Perry’s emphasis on everything candy-colored and sweet might make her seem like a girl next door who just got in touch with the right people, but this new record is making it clear that Perry is serious about making chart-topping tunes. Her tracks manage to sneak up on you, overtaking most music listeners with their catchiness and unrestrained cuteness. And their infectiousness is making her into a veritable pop star.

What Perry has found is the classic formula of any pop star: Tap into your audience’s desires, dreams and heartbreak and transform them into tracks that anyone and everyone can sing at the top of their lungs. The songs that have gained her this record relate to this generation’s shared youth. She’s virtually transforming Facebook statuses and text messages into lyrics for cleverly crafted songs like “This Friday Night (T.G.I.F.)” and burrowing into the more serious aspects of burning love with tracks like “E.T.”

Yet Jackson’s Bad album was more in the vein of explaining how, well, bad he was and why we should love him for it. But we’ve yet to receive a chart-topping hit that tells us anything about Perry’s personality. We get more of our own shared experiences and less of Perry’s actual personality, which seems to be redefining the pop star.

The pop stars of this generation must not be narcissistic themselves but feed into the party culture that celebrates the fact that Facebook pictures of last night’s events are there for everyone to see. Give listeners themselves in a cutely packaged track and they’ll eat it up and send it rocketing to the top of charts.

Jackson also created society-conscious and heartbreak-ridden tracks, but the feeling is always that he is a cool man with enough swagger to knock anyone’s socks off. Perry, on the other hand, seems more like our best friend with a sweet voice, a never-ending wardrobe and a good production team. She sings back late-night adventures and even invites Rebecca Black over for her music video. What more could a pop fan ask for?

The definition and persona of the pop star is getting to be less about individual kinks and more about collective identity. Sure, Perry’s sometimes purple hair and flirty attire create a quirky and loveable character, but we don’t know exactly who she is. Jackson’s attire, voice and persona are identifiable anywhere and difficult to replicate, but it seems Perry just wants us to dress up with her and have as much fun as we want.

But keeping fame for as long as Jackson has without releasing new tracks is a different record to reach altogether. Perry’s generational messages might ring fun now, but will they still hold up decades from now?

Presently, Perry’s formula is obviously successful. Pop music has always been the "danceable" genre, and there’s no doubt that Perry’s tunes dare you to try and sit still while you listen to them. For this singer, who was once a Christian songstress, the accomplishment is not only flattering but is setting an obvious tone for the pop world – the more you sing about crazy adventures, misadventures and everything in between, the better.

Meanwhile, the next YouTube star sitting in his/her room belting out a new tune and hoping to catapult into stardom should consider heavy use of glitter, party-friendly notes and perhaps even the ability to make quick costume changes.