Perry has stated that she had been working on the album since she was eighteen years old. During the making of the album Perry was dropped from two record labels and went through two canceled albums. During this time, Perry had written close to seventy songs. Perry collaborated with notable producersGreg Wells, Dr. Luke, Dave Stewart, and Max Martin among others on the album. Perry co-wrote every song on the album as well as writing three of the songs herself.
Once signed to Capitol, label head Jason Flom started work on a new album by convincing Dr. Luke to go back into the studio with Perry, with the two having already worked together on the abandoned Columbia sessions. Together with Max Martin they wrote and cut "I Kissed a Girl" and "Hot n Cold". Perry then collaborated again with Greg Wells, who she had also worked with on the Columbia album, creating the songs "Ur So Gay" and "Mannequin". According to Perry's A&R Chris Anokute they ended up with five new songs and then chose the six best songs from the shelved Columbia album to compile One of the Boys. When talking about the songs on the album Perry said that she released the single "Ur So Gay" as an introduction to the album:
The album will have a lot of the same characteristics [as "Ur So Gay"], though. There will be lots of storytelling, because lyrics are important to me. There are a few songs that will make you cry, but there are others to make you dance and sing. Every song is on the album for a specific reason.
Her first EP, Ur So Gay, which contains the album's promotional single, "Ur So Gay", was composed as a tool of revenge by the singer on her ex-boyfriend, where Perry satirizes his exaggerated emo style and metrosexual attitude. The lead single "I Kissed a Girl" generated some controversy, dealing with the subject of lesbianism. The song was inspired by actress Scarlett Johansson. In the second single "Hot n Cold", Perry discusses the theme of uncertainty and the ups and downs of relationships. Other songs like "I'm Still Breathing" and "Thinking of You", both ballads, recounted failed relationships. According to the singer, "Lost" is the most personal song on the album, because its theme is similar to her biographical events. "Waking Up in Vegas" deals with eccentric and crazy trips with friends to Las Vegas. Just like "Ur So Gay" and "Hot n Cold", the songs "Mannequin" and "If You Can Afford Me" are mocking and critical of relationships with ex-boyfriends.
The album was first released on June 17, 2008. It was released in separate editions: the standard edition; the Australia Tour edition, which contains the standard CD plus a bonus CD with exclusive songs, an acoustic version of "Thinking of You" and remixes; the special edition, which is packaged in a digipak and contains four bonus tracks; and the Japan re-issue. Europe, Japan, and iTunes editions contain bonus tracks.
Upon its release, the singer has been heavily criticized for her song, "Ur So Gay", considered by the site The New Gay to be homophobic. The author of the publication added, "It's time to Katy Perry to stop talking nonsense" because "the song trots out a number of tired gay stereotypes to condemn one of Perry's ex-boyfriends and includes a paradoxical chorus". Jane Czyzselska from The Guardian commented that "Perry's song is a rather sweet, refreshing antidote to the avalanche of overtly sexualized boy-grinds-girl songs." She promoted the song in Portugal, and it was not very well received by the public. Her first single, "I Kissed a Girl", became a worldwide controversy. Despite the context, Perry is heterosexual. She has been strongly criticized by the LGBT community, who believe that the singer used music to make money and not on behalf of homosexuals, and by critics who claimed that music leads the girls to be lesbian. The song was criticized by the local headquarters of the evangelical Havens Corners Church, which has set the following sentence in its garden in September 2008: "I kissed a girl and liked it. So I went to hell." To promote the album Perry embarked on three tours, Warped Tour 2008, and her first solo world tour Hello Katy Tour with 89 shows performed, and as opening act in No Doubt's Summer Tour 2009.
The album's lead single, "I Kissed a Girl" was released in late April and subsequently soared up the charts. "I Kissed a Girl" was a commercial success. It topped the Billboard Hot 100 chart, becoming the 1000th chart-topper of the rock era. The song has since become a major worldwide hit, and along with the United States, it has topped the charts in more than thirty countries, including Australia, Canada, Ireland, and the United Kingdom. The second single, "Hot n Cold", made it onto the chart after the album came out due to digital downloads. It was released in early September, and peaked at number three on the US charts, making it Perry's second consecutive top five single. On November 14, the song became Perry's first number one on radio airplay. It is officially one of the ten best-selling digitally downloaded songs of all time after its initial run.
"Thinking of You", the penultimate single, was originally planned to be the first single from the album, but was scrapped for "I Kissed a Girl" due to its surge in popularity. "Thinking of You" received a video in late April 2008, but the video was removed from YouTube and replaced by a new video after the single was re-released as the third international single from the album. Perry shot the second video with director Melina Matsoukas in the first week of December 2008. The video for the single was released on December 23, 2008. The track peaked at number twenty-nine on the Billboard Hot 100 on the week of February 12, 2009 where it remained for the next two weeks before declining to number thirty-one in its seventh week on the chart. "Waking Up in Vegas" is the fourth and final single from the album. It went for radio adds on April 21, 2009 in the US. It was released to Australian radio on March 23, 2009, where it became the fourth most added song in its release week. Perry performed it on American Idol in May, resulting in a surge of sales for the song. The music video was shot by Joseph Kahn during March 2009 in Las Vegas and officially premiered on the iTunes Store in the US, and Australia on April 28, 2009.
The album received generally mixed reviews from critics. On Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the album has received a score of 47, citing "mixed or average reviews". Despite some unfavorable reviews, the album did receive some positive reviews, such as from Billboard magazine who claimed, "not since Jagged Little Pill has a debut album been so packed with potential hits."Blender described the album as "Perry's creative-writing-class punch lines don't always justify her self-congratulatory drag-queen tone. But she hiccups quirkily enough, and myriad big-name producers (from Dr. Luke to Glen Ballard) keep the new-wave synth hooks hopping." More often, critical reception ranged to generally negative reviews, plus some mixed. Stephen Thomas Erlewine of AllMusic gave the album two out of five stars noting that the album "sinks to crass, craven depths that turn One of the Boys into a grotesque emblem of all the wretched excesses of this decade." On the album, Uncut wrote "Gwen Stefani should be nervous" while Slant Magazine wrote that "Perry doesn't possess the grit or vocal prowess to follow through, and the title track is like No Doubt's 'Just a Girl' sans personality and conviction". The NME wrote that "Madonna and Perez Hilton may be fans, then, but if you've got even a passing interest in actually enjoying a record, don't buy this one".
One of the Boys debuted at number nine on the US Billboard 200, with 47,000 copies sold in the first-week released. The album has shipped, and has sold nearly 1.5 million copies, earning a platinum certification by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). The album has been on the chart for eighty-four weeks. In Canada, the album debuted at number ten, and peaked at number six, It has since been certified double platinum by Music Canada. In the United Kingdom, the album debuted, and peaked at number eleven on the UK Albums Chart. It has since been certified platinum. In Australia, it debuted at number eleven, the album has been certified platinum by the Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA), denoting over 70,000 copies sold. In New Zealand, the album debuted and peaked at number seventeen. It has since been certified Gold, shipping over 7,500 copies.