06 August 2010

Katy Perry featuring Snoop Dogg: California Gurls

Welcome once again to Lyrics, Weakly, where we remain dedicated to the proposition that it is, in fact, the singer and not the song that makes the music move along. You doubt that? Then consider that the song “California Gurls” by Katy Perry (with stunt vocals by Snoop Dogg) was the #1 song in the United States—and much of the rest of the world, so it’s not like taste elsewhere is any better—for several weeks earlier this summer.

I mean, really, with lyrics like this, you really think it would have been taken seriously if it weren’t for the star power of Katy Perry and Snoop Dogg getting people to think they liked it? I mean, really, take a look at the lyrics, and then try to convince me we have poetry to rival Longfellow and Coleridge and Dylan Thomas (or even Bob Dylan) here.

→Greetings loved ones
→Let’s take a journey

First of all, Snoop Dogg doesn’t have all that many lines in this song, so i’ll be marking his lines with an arrow (→), to contrast them with Katy Perry’s unmarked lines.

Second, when Mr. Dogg asks me to take a journey, i can only assume he means a journey that would result in all of us being, ahem, at an excessive altitude.

I know a place where the grass is really greener
Warm, wet, and wild
There must be something in the water

Okay, i get the grass being greener—that’s fine. And Ms Perry’s completely within her rights to have whatever opinions about landscaping she wants to, but i don’t want my lawn to be warm, wet, and wild unless there’s just been a summertime rainstorm. Otherwise, i’m pretty sure she’s right and there is something in the water—unfortunately, Ms Perry, you’ll just need to be more careful about where you put the pool next time.

Sippin’ gin and juice (gin and juice)
Laying underneath the palm trees (undone)
The boys break their necks
Try’na to creep a little sneak peek (at us)

Great, just great—i come here thinking i’m going to be listening to a mindless little song about summer and all, and i end up being faced with the horrible, horrible image of guys with broken necks. Wow, way to harsh my mellow, dudes.

You could travel the world
But nothing comes close
To the golden coast

True fact: If you search Google for “golden coast”, the first results are for locations in Australia and Africa. If nothing else, then, it appears that this song may be useful as a way to alert the educational establishment in the United States of the desperate need to improve the state of geography instruction, particularly international geography.

Once you party with us
You’ll be falling in love

Well, i suppose “love” is one way of phrasing it, so yes, i guess you’re right.

California girls, we’re unforgettable

Very seriously, this is true. Listen to any top-40 station these days, and you’ll hear this song so often that it will sear itself permanently into your brain.

I would submit, however, that this is not the Good Thing that Ms Perry is presenting it as.

Daisy Dukes, bikinis on top

This isn’t titillating, it’s simply boring—the whole Daisy Dukes+bikini top thing has been done to death. You want to get someone’s attention these days, you need a bit more originality—maybe pair your Daisy Dukes with a turtleneck or something.

Sun kissed skin so hot
We’ll melt your popsicle

This line, believe it or not, led to a very proud parenting moment for me: My 11- and 9-year-old daughters, upon listening to the lyrics to this song, had the same reaction as i did, and the 11-year-old told me i should discuss this song on this blog simply because it has this one amazingly stupid line.

My reaction? Well, it’s simple, really: Given the temperature of skin, at least of the skin of living human beings, when compared to the melting point of popsicles, anybody’s skin will melt your popsicle. So, essentially, Ms Perry is saying that California gurls are alive. Wow, that’s exciting. No, really—better than Cats, even.

Well, either that or there’s some sort of sexual reference going on here, which (given that we are talking Katy Perry and Snoop “Doggystyle” Dogg himself) wouldn’t surprise me at all. However, the only thing i can come up with is that the popsicle is a phallic reference, and the message is that mere viewing of the sun-kissed skin of the California gurls out there will result in the popsicle, um, losing its popsicle-like shape. Doesn’t really seem like a very positive portrayal of the view on the west coast, does it?


Oh-oh (or perhaps uh-oh), indeed.

California girls, we’re undeniable
Fine, fresh, fierce, we got it on lock

So since i’m not hip and with it enough to know what it means to have things “on lock”, I took a stroll over to Urban Dictionary, where i discovered that it means to have things under control, but in a very intense way—in particular, it means (as the most clinical of the definitions phrases it) to be under strict, severe obligations or rules.

So basically, we have just learned that California gurls are all nuns. I’m a little confused now.

West Coast, represent
Now put your hands up

I’m always curious what happens when performers get famous enough to do a national tour and they deliver a line like this in, say, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. I mean, Philadelphians have been known to boo and throw snowballs at Santa Claus, so i might actually pay to go to a Katy Perry concert just to see what they came up with in response to this verse.

If it was early in the night, i’m guessing that East Coast would represent by putting their fingers (well, actually, just one, relatively long finger) up. If it was later in the night, after the beer started flowing, though, it could get interesting…

Sex on the beach

This may be getting a bit too personal here, but i would like to publicly say that this is not an experience i care to ever have. I mean, sand is uncomfortable enough when it somehow gets stuck in your armpit or the crook of your elbow—i don’t wish to ever have sand reach other, more sensitive parts of my anatomy.

And now, as an apology for that image, here’s something completely unrelated for you to waste a couple minutes with.

We don’t mind sand in our stilettos

More discomfort.

Though i would like to watch Ms Perry walk across the beach in stilettos. Just imagine it: Step-sink, step-sink, step-sink… It might even make up for having to watch the video for this song as i was writing this post.

We freak in our jeep,
Snopp Doggy Dogg on the stereo

This seems to be Ms Perry’s way of warning us that Snoop Dogg is about to speak. A bit overly subtle, but at least it does give you a chance to change the station if you haven’t already, so we should all thank her for her thoughtfulness.

You could travel the world (you could travel the world)
But nothing comes close
To the golden coast

Well, except for the water. I mean, that’s kind of the definition of “coast”, you know?

Once you party with us (once you party with us)
You’ll be falling in love

And then we get a couple repetitions of the chorus, where we are reminded, in case we were not already aware, that human skin will melt popsicles. Since you are, i assume, already aware of that fact, i will skip them for you.

→Tone, tan, fit and ready
→Turn it up cause it’s gettin’ heavy
→Wild, wild west coast
→These are the girls I love the most
→I mean the ones, I mean like, she’s the one
→Kiss her, touch her, squeeze her buns (uhhh)

Apparently i erred earlier, and i should have put the link to the McDonald’s Rap here.

→The girl’s a freak, she drive a jeep
→in Laguna beach

So she’s a yuppie driving an SUV. Wow. Such an exciting freak she must be. Maybe she actually even (dare i say this on a blog without a warning page?) plays golf!

→I’m okay, I won’t play

Oh, apparently not. Sorry.

→I love the bay, just like I love LA

So does Randy Newman. I can’t figure out if that comparison helps or hurts your cause, but either way it certainly makes things a bit weirder.

→Venice beach and Palm Springs
→Summer time is everything

Well, everything except winter, spring, and fall, at least.

→Home boys, hanging out (all that ass hanging out)
→Bikinis, zucchini, martinis, no weenies

Okay, this may be very second-grade of me to point out, but Mr. Dogg just told us all that his homeboys have no weenies. I hadn’t even suspected this.

→Just the kingy and the queenie
→Katy, my lady (yeah?)
→Hey looky here baby (uh huh)
→I'm all up on you
→Cause you representing California (oh-oh-oh yeah)

Actually, in the interest of accuracy, i have looked at the official website of the House of Representatives, and i find Ms Perry’s name nowhere on the list of representatives from California. Maybe this song was written during a previous sitting of Congress, and she was serving there back then? ’Cause i didn’t have time to research all the previous California congressional delegations, so i can’t be sure.

Either way, we get two more repetitions of the chorus, where we get told yet again that California gurls are actually warm-blooded, resulting in them having skin so hot [they]’ll melt your popsicle.

Well, upon thinking about this further, i guess it’s good to know they’re not lizards or anything like that, so maybe i shouldn’t be so hard on that line.

→California girls, man
→I wish they all could be
→California girls (California)
→I really wish you all could be
→California girls (California, yeah)

And we close with Snoop Dogg giving a shout-out to his progenitors in rap, those unknown pioneers of hip-hop, the, um, Beach Boys.

Wow. Now that’s a juxtaposition to make your head explode, that is.

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