Tuesday, July 8, 2008

No. 1 Single Reviews: "I Kissed a Girl" by Katy Perry

How can a song called "I Kissed a Girl" be so utterly sexless and sterile?

It's certainly not for a lack of trying. The arrangement tries to straddle a line between rock and electroclash, but the processed guitars are dulled of any edge, and the synths are sterilized. The music video tries even harder, beginning with Perry literally stroking a pussy(cat) in the clumsiest metaphor in a No. 1 single since, well, since "Lollipop" was on top two weeks before it.

A quick look at Jill Sobule's 1995 single of the same name shows why Perry fails. It's not a great song, but it's cute enough, and Sobule's innocence is far more erotic than Perry's showboating. Sobule saves the titular lyric for the end of the chorus, as if she's shyly admitting her kiss the first time. Perry whips the line out right as the chorus starts, and repeats it over and over, crassly flaunting it in a weak attempt at sex appeal.

While Sobule actually thinks to include some flirtation before the kiss, Perry's courtship is limited to the admission "I got so brave drink in hand/Lost my discretion." That's right: she's that college sophomore spilling her drink and putting on a little show with her girlfriend at a kegger to rile the guys up. Replace the video's lingerie-clad background dancers with a ring of frat boy's chugging and cheering her on, and you're closer to Perry's true intentions.

That's probably why it's a number one hit; the average American radio listener isn't interested in a single that treats female homosexuality on terms other than a Girls Gone Wild one-off make-out session that exists only for the sake of the audience.

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