I will be the first to admit, when it comes to what’s tops on Billboard these days, I’m pretty out of touch. I used to be better when I taught middle school, although I was more interested in talking music with the kids who were into The Cure, The Misfits, and Morrissey. And back when MTV actually played videos I could at least keep up on the fringes of new music. But now that MTV is actually Reality TV, I can’t even depend on them.
So I was a little late to the “I Kissed a Girl” phenomenon. This song by Katy Perry and the video that goes with it have bothered me and I haven’t quite been able to articulate why. I mean, on the one hand that seems like a very liberating and open title, right? But when you listen to the lyrics and you watch the video, you realize this song is nothing more than an adolescent boy’s wet dream. As music critic Ann Powers wrote:
What bothers me about “I Kissed a Girl” is that, in the song’s video, Perry never actually kisses a girl. She lounges around in some kind of noirish spa environment, showing off terrific gams in her trademark pinup-girl outfits. She raises her eyebrows and pouts as refugees from a George Michael video flounce and giggle, not kissing each other either but at least rubbing her leg. Her sensual experiments include petting a kitten and fingering some frosting on a pink cake.
And in case you didn’t know, this song is a complete rip-off from an adorable song by the same name. Again from Ann Powers:
Now, Jill Sobule didn’t kiss the girl either in the video for her 1995 song of the same title, which Perry and her top-notch songwriting team — Dr. Luke, Max Martin and Cathy Dennis, massive hitmakers all, share credit with Perry — cheerfully ripped off for this season’s hit. (There’s also a prominent pink cake in Sobule’s video — a sly tribute?) Sobule has said in a blog post that her record label wouldn’t allow it. But the singer-songwriter’s video self did hug her Jenny, and let her touch the hem of her mini-dress, even though the last frames show her impregnated by Fabio.
So, Katy Perry can have her little “Girls Gone Wild” song. I’d rather listen to Jill Sobule any day:
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