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.
We're aware the idea of "selling out" and the backlash it used to incur against artists doesn't hold the same weight as it did in the nineties, but if we wanted to watch blatant product placement in our entertainment we'd just stick to watching Bravo TV. Musicians have been shilling products since before Wayne and Garth held up a Pepsi can, but the product placement in music videos has gone from subtle to center stage. When music videos made the shift from TV to online (remember The BOX anyone?) record labels starting pumping out music videos as a source of revenue and not just an extension of the musician's "artistic vision." Pretty soon it's going to be Geico lizards singing backup while Gucci Mane raps with a Dairy Queen Blizzard tattooed on his face
Britney Spears – "Work B ** h"
While everyone was clamoring for Brit's latest comeback single, not much has changed since her Femme Fatale album of 2011. Tanned abs? Check. Flashy Underwear? Yep. Over-the-top product placement of her latest perfume? Absolutely! Just like her video for "Hold It Against Me," where she reportedly made half a million to hold product props, her latest single, "Work B ** h," is no different — except this time she's pushing her Fantasy Twist perfume instead of Radiance. Subtle product placement is one thing, but in this video we are literally gagged with it — as one of scenes features a dancer using a Beats by Dre speaker as an S&M ball-gag. In addition to plugs for the casino Planet Hollywood where she has a two-year residency performing, Britney proves if you want to make the big bucks with corporate sponsors… you better work, b ** h.
Avril Lavigne – "Rock N Roll"
Avril Lavigne is a lot of things — but a rock star is not one of them. In her video for song "Rock Star," the product placement makes an appearance before the music even begins. Her gentle guitar strumming is interrupted by "her new Sony phone is ringing," making us cringe before she starts warbling about ripped jeans and "hipster bulls**t." She's obviously very cozy with Sony since their shiny electronics also make a star appearance in he video for "What the Hell." That's exactly what we were thinking.
No Doubt – "Settle Down"
Here's another case of an artist plugging the brand they're a spokesperson for. As Gwen is on her way driving to the uber cool party in a shipping container, she carefully applies her L'oreal lipgloss to achieve her signature red lip and makes us all ill in the process. Maybe their next video can be her sitting by her vanity applying L'Oreal RevitaLift after their live gig? Does Tony approve of this?
Ke$ha — "We R Who We R"
Given her penchant for whiskey, we would have expected to see a Jack Daniels plug in Ke$sha's videos, but it turns out the party girl prefers Revolucion Tequila, which makes plenty of appearances in her single "We R Who We R." Not that we set the bar for artistic integrity for Ke$ha very high. The song's mantra could apply to her entire career, she's unapologetic about her image and "dancin' like we're dumb," lyrics; so good for her. Tequila and flashy watches naturally fit in the dance party concept of the video, but what's with the constant reference to the dating website 'Plenty of Fish' on the DJ's laptop? Turns out, the site had a partnership with Interscope Records. Now we'll forever wonder, is that guy is REALLY DJing at the bar or his he just cruising for dates?
The Eagles, Billy Joel, No Doubt, Eddie Vedder and the Dixie Chicks are just some of the music artists demanding better relationships with record labels. To that end, those artists will be performing at four concerts in Los Angeles with proceeds to benefit the two-year-old Recording Artists Coalition, which wants to be a watchdog agency for all musicians and was founded by Eagles frontman Don Henley.
Hollywood.com has learned that the bloated recording industry establishment hired Mad magazine's Alfred E. Neuman to be its spokesman. In his first act as spokesman, Neuman told reporters: "What, me worry?"
King of Pop Michael Jackson won't be performing at the Grammys, although he made plans to do so last month. Despite the fact he refused to perform at the American Music Awards in January so he would be allowed to perform at the upcoming Grammys, the awards show sponsor--the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences--confirmed Jackson won't be among the entertainers. No word is forthcoming from Jackson's Neverland compound, but we think the King of Pop is still pouting after Bubbles told Jackson he likes Macaulay Culkin better.
Sir Ian McKellen (Gandalf the Wizard from Lord of the Rings) told BBC TV Monday that his "money is absolutely on Lord of the Rings" to win the Academy Award for best picture. It's rumored that evil Sauron the Dark Lord has bet all his money on his vision for Middle-earth: Moulin Rouge.
From the world of second, third and fourth chances, self-destructive Robert Downey Jr. is set to star in The Singing Detective, a Mel Gibson-produced film based on the BBC series of the same name. Michael Gambon originally starred as the title protagonist, who has a high fever that destroys his perception of reality. Downey should be perfect for this part: He knows all about altered mental states.
Director James Cameron (Spider-Man) is joining other celebs in the annual Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race in Long Beach, which benefits a program for a children's hospital in Long Beach and Orange County. Frankly, after what happened in Titanic, we're surprised Toyota would let Cameron pilot anything bigger than a tricycle.
First Matthew McConaughey gets hitched, and now he's about to be ditched. The co-star of The Wedding Planner is in negotiations to return to romantic comedy, as McConaughey is up to star opposite Kate Hudson in How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days. The movie Hollywood.com really wants to see made is, of course, How to Lose Your Mother-in-Law in 10 Days--now that would be a box office hit.
Britain's Queen Elizabeth is celebrating 50 years of rule, and England's throwing a big concert in her honor: two of them, in fact. Eric Clapton, Aretha Franklin, Elton John, Paul McCartney and opera star Kiri Te Kanawa are just some of the headliners set to fete the Queen for her Golden Jubilee with two open-air concerts in June. Hollywood.com is sad to report that Britain's own Herman's Hermits isn't on the list of performers.
West Wing producer Aaron Sorkin told The New Yorker magazine that "The media is waving pom-poms, and the entire public is being polite" with regard to President Bush, as the media have laid off "the bubblehead jokes" long enough.
A spokesman for Malcolm in the Middle star Jane Kaczmarek insists that it was a migraine, and not a salary dispute, that caused Kaczmarek to walk off the set of the Fox hit show two weeks ago. Kaczmarek has since returned to the set..
The personal writings of late Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain have been purchased by the Riverhead publishing label for close to $4 million. The 23 notebooks contain close to 800 pages of Cobain's notes, and fans hope there's some clue as to why the popular singer committed suicide in 1994 at the age of 27. (As if waking up next to Courtney Love each morning isn't enough to send most men over the edge.)
Fred Durst, lead singer for band Limp Bizkit, has agreed to testify--either by written statements or via satellite video--at the Australia inquest of a 15-year-old girl who suffered a heart attack during a stage rush at a Bizkit concert in Sydney and died five days later. Durst said he was too busy to attend in person.
Diva Celine Dion's self-proclaimed retirement is at an end. The Canadian singer will perform at L.A.'s Kodak Theater this Sunday as part of a CBS TV special, along with Destiny's Child. Dion also signed a reported $100 million contract to perform at Las Vegas' Caesars Palace five nights a week for three years. Looks like Wayne Newton will be facing some stiff competition.
Being a Hollywood star doesn't mean much in London, but being ex-President Clinton's daughter seems to count much more. Chelsea Clinton, 21, was the hit of the The Shipping News premiere Monday night, outshining some of Tinseltown's luminaries. Clinton signed autographs and chatted with fans. (Hollywood.com has learned that some female fans really talked to Chelsea only to get her dad's mobile phone number.)
Johnny Cash is nearly 70, but is feeling better than he has in a while. "I've felt really good these last few months, better than I've felt in the last three years," Cash told the AP. Cash is currently working on finishing an album, American IV.
Warning: "ER" Spoiler
If they're such good doctors, how come people keep dying? PageSix.com is reporting that Dr. Mark Greene's (Anthony Edwards) exit from ER will be occasioned by his passing due to a recurrence of his brain tumor. Greene isn't the first major character to be killed off: Med student Lucy Knight was brutally stabbed to death a few years ago. Edwards' departure leaves Noah Wyle the sole remaining original cast member who's been on the show continuously since day one.