California Gurls: A Floozy in Candyland

The following music video may be inappropriate for all viewers.  But, for our purposes today, I want you to watch the whole thing.  Consider this Part Three in my analysis of modern popular music.

I give you Katy Perry’s  California Gurls.


California Gurls

(Why does everything have to be spelled wrong?  What’s a gurl? When I search online I find that it means a young person of either sex. But the real dictionary doesn’t seem to know anything about it.  So I guess we can assume that gurls means girls.)

[Snoop Dogg]
Greetings loved ones
Let’s take a journey

(Snoop seems to be the one in control of things.  He is the one rolling the dice and he has a pimp cane.  He is also giant compared to Katy Perry.  Who are the loved ones?  What is the journey?  I think we are the loved ones and the journey is the song.)

[Katy Perry]
I know a place
Where the grass is really greener
Warm, wet and wild
There must be something in the water
Sippin’ gin and juice
Laying underneath the palm trees
(Undone)
The boys break their necks
Tryin’ to creep a little sneak peek
(At us)

(We are in a Candyland.  Katy Perry appears as an innocent child in a place that a child would probably picture as paradise.  Very quickly she meets some unsavory Gummi bears and gets flipped off.  All the while Snoop is rolling the dice and apparently running the show.  If you look at the lyrics, sippin gin and warm, wet, and wild aren’t things you’d associate with childhood innocence.  Nevertheless, they are juxtaposed with the imagery of purity.  Also, the “boys break their necks” in an attempt to see some female flesh.  This is important, since one of the major themes in the song is female dominance through sexual manipulation.  No way!)

You could travel the world
But nothing comes close to the Golden Coast
Once you party with us
You’ll be falling in love
(Oh, oh-oh, oh-oh, oh-oh)

California gurls, we’re unforgettable
Daisy dukes, bikinis on top
Sun-kissed skin, so hot, will melt your popsicle
(Oh-oh, oh-oh, oh)
(Oh, oh-oh, oh-oh, oh-oh)
California gurls, we’re undeniable
Fine, fresh, fierce, we got it on lock
West Coast represent, now put your hands up
(Oh-oh, oh-oh, oh)
(Oh, oh-oh, oh-oh, oh-oh)

(In the video, candy canes turn to snakes.  Snakes are archetypes for evil (as seen in the Garden of Eden story).  At first Katy Perry appears concerned, but then she climbs up one of them into the clouds.  At least two things can be gathered by this.  The first is that Katy Perry is losing (or has lost) her innocence.  The second is that she is both giving in and attempting to dominate the snakes by climbing them.  Once she reaches the clouds she is completely naked in a sort of inverse to the Garden of Eden story.  In the Bible they are shamed of their nakedness after succumbing to sin, but in Katy Perry’s music video she seems to be embracing her nakedness.     Also, a melting popscicle as a result of their hotness, followed by the words, “now put your hands up”.  Once again, sexual imagery indicating feminine dominance through sexual manipulation.)

Sex on a beach

We don’t mind sand in our Stilettos
We freak, in my jeep
Snoop Doggy Dogg is on the stereo

(This is pretty clear.  Sex on the beach.  Sex in a jeep.  And, Snoop is on the stereo while this is going on.)

You could travel the world
But nothing comes close to the Golden Coast
Once you party with us
You’ll be falling in love
(Oh, oh-oh, oh-oh, oh-oh)

(At this point Katy and her friends dress up like girl scouts and gather around a gingerbread man.  Once he appears aroused by their proximity, they begin to consume him until he is in pieces on the ground.)

California gurls, we’re unforgettable
Daisy dukes, bikinis on top
Sun-kissed skin, so hot, will melt your popsicle
(Oh-oh, oh-oh, oh)
(Oh, oh-oh, oh-oh, oh-oh)
California gurls, we’re undeniable
Fine, fresh, fierce, we got it on lock
West Coast represent, now put your hands up
(Oh-oh, oh-oh, oh)
(Oh, oh-oh, oh-oh, oh-oh)

(Snoop seems to be growing more and more irritated by Katy Perry rebelling against his control.)

Toned, tanned
Fit and ready
Turn it up ’cause it’s gettin’ heavy
Wild, wild Westcoast
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

The girl’s a freak
She drives a Jeep
and lives on the beach
I’m okay
I won’t play
I love the Bay
Just like I love L.A.
Venice Beach
And Palm Springs
Summertime is everything

Homeboys
Hangin’ out
All that ass
Hangin’ out
Bikinis, tankinis, martinis
No weenies
Just a king
And a queen-ie
Katy my lady
(Yeah)
You’re lookin’here baby
(Uh huh)
I’m all up on you
‘Cause you representin’ California
(Ohhh yeahh)

(Snoop seems to be smitten by Katy Perry and California Girls in general.  His rap breakdown is just describing what he likes about the place and the women.  All that ass hangin’ out for example.  At the end of the rap he shrinks himself in order to get on Katy Perry’s level. )

[Katy Perry]
California gurls, we’re unforgettable
Daisy dukes, bikinis on top
Sun-kissed skin, so hot, will melt your popsicle
(Oh-oh, oh-oh, oh)
(Oh, oh-oh, oh-oh, oh-oh)
California gurls, we’re undeniable
Fine, fresh, fierce, we got it on lock
West Coast represent, now put your hands up
(Oh-oh, oh-oh, oh)
(Oh, oh-oh, oh-oh, oh-oh)

(Sooooo, in this part we have the final showdown between Snoop, who is the symbol of power and male dominance, and Katy Perry.  Katy Perry places a couple of whipped cream cans on her breasts and uses them as weapons to kill all of the Gummi bears.  After this, Snoop surrenders to her.  Clearly, this is an illustration of how Katy Perry is using her sexuality to dominate men and gain power.  No?  Do you disagree?  How many times throughout the song has she used sex to gain power over male figures?   The question we are then left with is, is Katy Perry criticizing Hollywood for using female sexuality as a marketing tool?  Is she drawing our attention to the weakness of men and the need for decency and modesty in the name of preserving the integrity of a masses so easily overtaken by temptation?  No, I don’t think so.  She’s trying to sell herself and her music.  In short, Katy Perry is a prostitute, the media is her pimp, and we are the customer.)

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Posted on October 5, 2010, in Popular Culture and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.

  1. I think you should have analyzed the alternative video to this song which, in my opinion, is superior in acting, filming, and generally everything. . .

  2. Yikes!! tough to read for a grandmother but the words and video are right there for all to see and hear. The song is very catchy but when you hear what is being said, disgusting.

  3. Dave, thank you for analyzing my request. Very well done analysis.

  4. I’ll restrain myself.
    Dave, you and I think pretty similarly about most things. And, for the most part, I agree with you on this whole trashy music situation. I would still like to submit that this song is extremely catchy. I would also like to point out that most of the music on the radio is far from edifying nor would it line up with your (or my) Biblical world view. The negatives in Katy Perry’s music are just more obvious.
    I still haven’t watched the video…

  5. your last sentence nailed it!

  6. There is certainly a great deal to know about this topic.

    I love all of the points you have made.

  1. Pingback: 100th Post Extravaganza! Or, How I Fell in Love With Lady Gaga « Thoughts of a Post-Grad TwentySomething

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