At this time last year, Christina Perri was one of the many young talents who had transplanted herself to Los Angeles looking for stardom only to find a problematic relationship and a job waiting tables in a coffee shop. But when you have material as strong as Perri’s, it’s impossible to stay anonymous forever. Her sweet, punchy tunes started to pick up a bit of buzz on YouTube, but when her hook-heavy ballad “Jar of Hearts” appeared on an episode of “So You Think You Can Dance” over the summer, she instantly found herself on the Billboard charts and with offers from record companies. On Tuesday night (December 7), she hit yet another peak in her career, as she delivered a stellar performance as the musical guest on “Conan.”
Perri (not to be confused with Katy Perry or the Band Perry) grew up outside Philadelphia in a musical family (her brother Nick is a guitarist in the hard rock band Shinedown) and, according to a particularly fascinating profile in Rolling Stone, taught herself to play guitar by watching late Blind Melon frontman Shannon Hoon. That’s a fitting inspiration, as her songs are a combination of retro sounds and modern pop flourishes, full of biting lyrics that overflow with sly humor and brutal honesty. Her debut EP, The Ocean Way Sessions, collects five of her best compositions, all of which have the same easy-going groove and hummable quality as “Jar of Hearts.”
She performed “Jar of Hearts” on “Conan” (just as she did when she was on “The Tonight Show” a few weeks back), but you should really give a listen to “Bang Bang Bang,” a punchy little chugger of a tune that showcases Perri’s way with both words and melody.