Everything You Need To Know About Pop Star-On-The-Rise Kim Petras

German musician Kim Petras has been laying the groundwork for a serious pop takeover for years, and her time is now. Armed with razor-sharp productions and crystalline vocals, the budding hitmaker first made waves in 2017. That's when she released her debut single, a delightfully bratty banger titled "I Don't Want It At All." It clinched the top spot on Spotify's Viral Top 50 (via Galore) and introduced a diva who appreciates the finer things in life and knows her way around a solid-gold hit. 

Petras kept fans well-fed with a deluge of bops over the years. Now her hard work is paying off in spades. Last month, she signed a deal with Republic Records and is gearing up to drop her debut album with the label. "What Kim Petras has already accomplished on her own is unprecedented," Wendy Goldstein, president of west coast creative at Republic, told Variety. "She became one of the most disruptive and dynamic global superstars with incredible songs and an amazing vision. Our goal is to augment what she's personally built and make history now."

Hours after the news broke, a battle plan went into motion with the unveiling of a new single called "Future Starts Now" (via YouTube). Shortly thereafter, Petras took to Twitter to reveal plans to perform ahead of the 2021 MTV Video Music Awards. It's all lining up for a successful rollout. Here's a couple things to know about the pop star before she becomes a household name.

Her debut album is on the way

"Future Starts Now" serves as a bold and brash introduction to a new era for Kim Petras. She told Variety that the song came about as a way to counteract anxieties related to the pandemic. "For me the most anxiety-inducing thing is not being able to work and do what I love," she explained. "'Future Starts Now' came from trying to stay present, instead of stressing about the future and all the lost time." Boasting a walloping production, it features a Parisian theme, which will be reflected on her upcoming debut album.

We don't know a lot about the project yet, but Petras has offered up a couple teasers in recent months. She took to Twitter to announce that the album was finished in July 2021 and declared that there would be "no sad songs" on the final tracklist. "I'm so happy that it's coming soon," she gushed in a separate tweet. "We put all of last year into it. I been working on improving my vocals so hard, and I'm so proud. I can't wait for u to hear it." The LP is expected to include collaborations. With any luck, Petras' previous collaborator and golden-voiced pop heiress Paris Hilton will make a guest appearance with a long-teased duet (via ET).

Although the currently untitled release has been billed as her "debut album," Petras has dropped several other projects, including some surprisingly spooky fare.

Kim Petras is the queen of Spooky SZN

While most pop stars spend their time recording yet another cover of "Oh Holy Night" to cash in on the Christmas season, Kim Petras has her sights set on claiming a different holiday: Halloween. Mariah Carey has "All I Want for Christmas Is You;" Petras has released over an album's worth of music inspired by the night of many frights. She dropped a spooky mixtape titled "Turn Off the Light Vol. 1" in 2018 (via Idolator). Accompanied by a bevy of photos of the hitmaker in haunting glam (via Instagram), the eight-song collection set Petras up to become the queen of October 31.

A sequel followed in 2019. According to Petras, plans for the final installment of her festive fare were delayed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. "I can't do it if I can't perform it live for you guys immediately," she said on Instagram. "It needs to be fresh, and there's a bunch of stuff I want to do to make a really epic thing." Instead of concluding the trilogy, she sated fans' desire for bloody bops with "Party Till I Die" (via YouTube).

Petras seemingly has little interest in staking a claim to Christmas. In 2019, she told Idolator that she planned on sticking with the spookiest time of the year. "My heart is with Halloween," she reiterated. To be fair, she also has a claim on Valentine's Day thanks to her single "Heart to Break."

The Heart to Break music video is inspired by a fairytale with a trans twist

Kim Petras made a splash with "I Don't Want It At All," but she landed a bona fide hit when she dropped "Heart to Break" on Valentine's Day in 2018. The saccharine smash developed a cult following and landed at No. 52 on Billboard's Dance Club Songs chart (via Billboard). It was her highest-charting song on a Billboard chart until 2020 (more on that later) and featured on "RuPaul's Drag Race" (via YouTube). All things considered, that's pretty impressive for a relative newcomer.

The song also gave birth to an iconic music video (via YouTube) with a fairytale ending. In it, Petras, who is transgender, plays a princess who lives the high life in a crystal palace in the sky. There's just one problem: she's fragile like glass. The pop star opened up about her goal to create a "trans Disney princess movie" and revealed that the plot was based on an actual fairytale from the 1800s in an interview with Independent.

You can count the visual and Petras' growing stardom as a win for trans representation in media. However, the singer has been pretty adamant that her goal is not to be known for her gender before her art.

Kim Petras wants to be renowned for her art

Before she became one of the most promising in a class of rising pop stars, Kim Petras was known as the "world's youngest transgender individual" after undergoing gender confirmation surgery at the age of 16 in 2009 (via Glamour). Since then, she has proudly claimed her identity. "I'm proud to be a transgender woman," she told Glamour in 2021. "I used to be scared of, or used to be like, why can't I just be normal? But now I'm just proud to have overcome that and to like myself and to be openly transgender."

However, she would like her gender to be a "footnote" in her career. "I'm an artist, I'm not a gender. I'm not anything else but an artist," Petras explained. She added that it was difficult navigating conversations about her art and gender when she was getting started. "I think visibility is important. So I would answer everything and talk about it, because I know that so many people don't have a voice and don't even have a platform to talk about their experiences."

She shared similar insight in a 2018 interview with The New York Times. "I don't care about being the first transgender teen idol at all," she said before adding that it would be "totally sick" if she was. "I just want to be known as a great musician." Like plenty of the greats, Petras already has a call to arms.

Her signature chant is 'Woo-Ah'

If you've already listened to any of Kim Petras' music, you obviously have good taste. Aside from being gifted with the ability to source high-quality pop, you've also likely noticed a recurring phrase — "Woo-Ah." The line, usually delivered like a jubilant chant, appears at some point in most of her hits and has become a call to arms for many of her fans. It also has an interesting origin story.

She traced the saying back to her early days creating music in a 2019 interview with Idolator. "I was looking for a producer tag back in the day. Like four or five years ago or something. And it just randomly happened in my mom's basement one day when I was making a demo. Yeah. It's just stayed ever since then," she said. "And I don't know why I picked it. But it's just so good. It was undeniable. I really have no idea what it means, but now it means so much. You know?"

What does "woo-ah" mean? Petras may not have a solid answer. However, her fans defined the phrase in Urban Dictionary. "A type of breathing that makes you skinnier everytime [sic] it's done," the definition reads. "It was introduced to the world by the Lord and savior, Kim Petras." Works for us.

Kim Petras has already worked with some famous faces

Kim Petras' star is still on the rise. However, the hitmaker's already gotten several major co-signs from famous faces. It started in 2017 when Paris Hilton made a cameo appearance in her "I Don't Want It At All" music video (via YouTube). Their relationship wasn't temporary, either. Petras got a sweet birthday message in 2021. "You are a star and I love watching you shine," Hilton wrote on Twitter.

Who else has worked with Petras? For starters, she has two collabs with underground pop icon Charli XCX. One of them is called "Unlock It" and went viral on TikTok this year (via Paper). She toured with fellow LGBTQ+ artist Troye Sivan (via Fader) and was included on the Ariana Grande-executive produced "Charlie's Angels" soundtrack in 2019 (via Vulture). That's not all.

Petras has some impressive features to her name. She lent her voice to tracks by the likes of Cheat Codes, MAX, and Kygo. Her work with the latter, titled "Broken Glass," peaked at No. 13 on Billboard's Hot Dance/Electronic Songs chart and is now one of her highest-charting songs to date (via Billboard). She even joined League of Legend's virtual girl group K/DA to record a song called "Villain" with duet partner Madison Beer (via Twitter). While she's worked with some of the greats, one of her collaborators has a controversial past. 

Kim Petras is tied to controversial producer Dr. Luke

Most of the songs on Kim Petras' Spotify page have a recurring name in the credits — Dr. Luke. The disgraced producer once helped helm hits for the likes of Kelly Clarkson, Miley Cyrus, Katy Perry, Britney Spears, and Kesha. His career took a tumble after Kesha sued him for alleged sexual assault in 2014. The ensuing legal battle essentially erased Dr. Luke's name from the industry for a while.

In 2019, Vice noted that Dr. Luke once expressed interest in collaborating extensively with a young, female pop star. It appears that Kim Petras has become that star. The producer was attached to her from the time her debut single arrived (via Idolator), and her relationship with him has raised questions and, at times, outright distaste. Petras wound up in hot water after fans thought she minimized Kesha's allegations during a 2018 interview with NME. "I would like my fans to know that I wouldn't work with somebody I believe to be an abuser of women, definitely not," she said. She released a more thought-out statement on Twitter acknowledging her positive experience with the producer but added that she was not trying to "negate or dismiss the experience of others." 

Fans speculate there may be contractual obligations linking the pair (via Junkee), but it's never been confirmed. With his name on "Future Starts Now," their relationship will almost certainly be a footnote in her career.

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).

Her career has already been defined by success

Kim Petras' identity was once something of a mystery. Each of her earliest singles was fronted by a neon-hued rendering of the singer with her hair in a then-signature bun. She told Jonathan Van Ness the mysterious branding was a purposeful move, seemingly to let the music speak for itself (via Twitter).

Although she finally landed a major-label deal, Petras spent most of her career as an independent artist. She told Insider that her trans identity stalled early talks with labels. "Honestly, it was the transgender thing. They all made a huge deal out of it," she explained. "They were either talking about 'how to market that,' or some labels were like, 'if you work with her then that's against God, against religion.' That happened, and that sucked."

The lack of backing didn't stop Petras from building a career. If anything, it empowered her to make decisions about her music and image. That was reflected in the release of her full-length project "Clarity" in 2019, which was preceded by an ambitious nine-week release schedule where a new single arrived like clockwork every week. She explained to the publication that the decision stemmed from the market's emphasis on streaming.

Clearly her hard work paid off. The pop star, once known only as a neon silhouette, is preparing a global takeover and has the talent to pull it off.