When Avril Lavigne's video for her new single "Hello Kitty" hit the net, the reaction was swift and unkind. There was the claims of racism for Lavigne's objectification of expressionless Asian backup dancers to claims of intellectual plagiarism for the similarities with Gwen Stefani's "Hollaback Girl" video.
The video, with its candy-colored (one sequence is set in what looks like a Sanrio store) backgrounds and funhouse props, is about as misguided an attempt at trying to be hip as you'll ever find. And one giant problem is the song itself.
Come, Come, Kitty, Kitty
With lyrics like "Come, come, kitty, kitty," and "Let's play truth or dare now, we can roll around in our underwear," it might be the worst use of double entendre and sexual innuendo in the history of music.
When asked about the song's meaning by Digital Spy in October, and whether or not the "kitty" in question was meant to represent a part of her anatomy, Lavigne said, "Obviously it's flirtatious and somewhat sexual, but it's genuinely about my love for Hello Kitty!"
Well, sure, because the line "I wanna do everything with you together, come play with Kitty and me" sounds like it's referring to a Japanese cat with a hair ribbon.
WWMD (What Would Miley Do)
The problem is that Lavigne is trying to have her cupcake and eat it too, which doesn't work in a world where Lady Gaga and Miley Cyrus fight for social media attention. Lavigne didn't need to be as overt as hard rockers like The Who ("Squeeze Box") or AC/DC ("Big Balls") but she at least needed to commit as much as Madonna or Pink.
The lyrics of the song call for one thing: winking knowledge of the innuendo at play. But the way that Lavigne handles it, both in the song and the video, provide nothing. In the video, Lavigne is frequently just as expressionless as her dancers; apart for a bounce here or there, she barely moves. If Cyrus were doing the song, for instance, there would be no doubt of the double-meaning. The video would've featured a slumber party orgy with the entire cast of a touring production of Cats.
Why, Avril, Why?
What's sad is that Lavigne feels the need to play this game at all. When she first started out, she was the pop antithesis to Britney Spears, singing about her "Sk8ter Boi." She's been down this road before with trying to find a niche somewhere between Stefani and Pink, most noticeably on her "Girlfriend."
You wish that Lavigne would work harder to find a niche that's separate and different from her contemporaries. Putting out something that appears to be nothing more than an attention grab — how else do you explain releasing the weakest track from her eponymous album as a single? — she's made herself look a little bit desperate.
At the very least, if she's going to do a video for a song with a double entendre title and sexual innuendo lyrics, then she needs to really commit to it. In today's musical landscape, female artists don't straddle the fence anymore. They jump into everything with everything they have. Hopefully, Lavigne won't do anything as egregiously bad as "Hello Kitty" again, but if she does, here's hoping that she at least fully owns it.