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Katy Perry and Snoop Dogg - 'California Gurls'

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Fraser McAlpine | 10:00 UK time, Thursday, 17 June 2010

Katy Perry

Is someone trying to get in on Alicia Keys's action here? Are we about to be besieged by songs about places? And if so, can we hurry up and get to Norwich or Zurich, for variety's sake if nothing else.

Alicia's song was all about how inspiring and enervating New York is, and it's great, but you couldn't really call it a party jam. Luckily Katy Perry has come along to rectify that, by pointing out that in California the girls don't wear a right lot, and that is because it is sunny and they are sexy. A point which Snoop Dogg is more than happy to reiterate.

The funny thing is, the difference between the two songs, in tone, delivery and lyric, speaks volumes about how the two places view themselves. Simply put, New York is for romantic realists, for people who draw inspiration as much from the toughness of their surroundings as the spirit of the people who live nearby. People who can see past bad stuff to the good stuff within.

On the evidence presented here, California is for people who like the sun and the beach and being hot (in both senses of the word). That is all.

(Here's the video. It does not appear to have been filmed in the real California, which is kind of apt.)

And this is because, as we all know, everything looks better when it's sunny. You get a dose of vitamin D, start to go a bit pink, and suddenly all you can think about is beaches and parties and sexy people. Translate that to a wet weekend in Inverness and it's not going to have the same impact, unless you're a fan of the Daisy Duke/bikini-over-a-parka look.

You've got to love Snoop's contribution too. He really is the go-to guy for softly rambling a load of old nonsense like the eccentric on the bus. We're lucky Katy (or, more correctly, Dr Luke, the man who also wrote 'Hot 'n' Cold', and 'Tik Tok', fact fans) picked a topic he actually knows something about, so there's a few place names in there, although with Snoop, it's almost always about the hot mamas in the end.

So, as Katy points out, if it's grittiness and roots and inspiration you're after, pick somewhere rainy, but when you wanna feel good and have some fun, California is the place you go to. It might not be good for you in the long run, but by golly you'll love it while you're there.

Much like this song, really.

Four starsDownload: 20th June

BBC Music page

(Fraser McAlpine)

One Thirty BPM says: "Naturally the first thing I notice is poor lyrics."

Buzzsugar says: "I want to hate it but I already have it stuck in my head."

Mr Will-W says: "This will be 2010's song of the summer."


  • Comment number 1.

    I can't help feeling disappointed with this song. I've listened to it many times, and I really want to love it because I like Katy, but the unshakable feeling I have is 'could of been better'. Everyone's saying 'summer smash!' but the chorus is lacking (Hot 'n' Cold's chorus was miles better) and the lyrics aren't great.

    After 2 worldwide smash hits from her first album, I expected something more fun and catchy than this song to precede the second album. It isn't bad at all, but for Katy Perry's comeback single, it just feels a bit pedestrian. Still, I'm sure it'll go to no.1 because of her popularity as it is now.

  • Comment number 2.

    Summer. That is all.

  • Comment number 3.

    I'm not going to beat about the nush on this one, I'm in the same boat as kutox.

    Try as I might I cannot bring myself to enjoy it as much as I did 'I Kissed A Girl', 'Hot 'n' Cold' and 'Waking Up In Vegas'. It is without doubt a great summer single, and pretty much cements itself as the last song to contend for the title of 2010 Summer Smash, just because of it's title, but unfortunately I felt it lacked something, and after much deliberation, I realise it's missing quite a sustantial chunk of the Katy Perry-ness I came to love from her début effort 'One Of The Boys'.

    It sounds far too produced; like she's trying to be someone else... I'm drawn to a Ke$ha sound, but that could just be Dr. Luke, the producer. It's a shame because I really like Katy, but when I listen to it, at the point when I'm about to start liking it, up pops has-been rapper Snoop Dogg. I don't like him.

    I'm so on the fence with this one as it's by no doubt what-so-ever going to be a smash, but I'm just not sure it's a great comeback single y'know?

    The video however is AMAZING.

    3 stars.

  • Comment number 4.

    I've already made my thoughts clear about the single. I love it although I can see why some people are frustrated with it, it does sound a little too much like Ke$ha's TiK ToK.

    Let's discuss the video. I love when the gummy bear sticks his middle finger up at Katy and she gives him this really over-the-top, camp, shocked expression. It's so random and funny.

    I was a bit indifferent about Katy until I saw her live at Oxegen last July. Me and my friends were wandering about and as there were no other music acts on, we went to see her. Boy, I am glad we did!

    Not only is Miss Perry absolutely stunningly gorgeous but she has the vocal chops, songwriting skills, personality and stage presence to ensure a long career in the future. Seeing her live, she was really warm, friendly, open and cheeky. She talked about Irish people having the largest quantity of gingers after Scotland, she joked with the audience and when someone threw up an inflatable part of the male anatomy at her, she put on that big shocked face and threw an inflatable strawberry back at the crowd.

    She was really worth the watch and I've really had a soft spot for the lady ever since. I agree that she's a bit of an attention seeker singing songs about gay boyfriends, lesbian experiences and getting needlessly naked or provocative in this video (not that I'm complaining) but she did what she did to get to the top of the chart. She has the talent and personality to back it up.

  • Comment number 5.

    I admit the highlight of this single, as spirit said, is the video. Isn't it just hilarious? Sheer randomness in true Katy style, that...

    I love the woman too, I think she's quirky, enjoys a good laugh, and is a great song-writer although I'm not too sure on that blue wig she dons in the video. Hmmmm...

  • Comment number 6.

    It was produced by Max Martin, Dr. Luke, and Benny Blanco. All top producers, but is it a case of 'too many cooks'? As has been said (not just here, almost everywhere), it does sound very Kesha-esque. I love Kesha's music but California Gurls is too similar to Tik Tok, and not as good. But I do love the video.

  • Comment number 7.

    Spirit hasn't commented on the video, I have and also yourself. People have to stop getting names mixed up around here! >:(

  • Comment number 8.

    I do apologise Randy, but nothing trumps mangsey's mess up with your Single Diary, Randy! [/suck up] ;)

    Right, I'm gunna plan some kind of... thing which will allow you all to vote for you favourite summer song of 2010, it'll probably posted toward the middle of July, and will be open for two weeks for any of you to post in THIS thread.

    More imformation will follow closer to the date.

    It's very much in the birth stages right now and I wanted to ask whether any of you think it would be a good idea for everyone to vote for their favourite summer anthem of 2010? Or whether it's been tried before whilst I wans't here and it was pants.

    I'm going to wait until all possible contender singles are announced, but for now, can I take suggestions?

    Ke$ha - 'Your Love Is My Drug'
    Alexandra Burke - 'Start Without You'
    Scissor Sisters - 'Fire With Fire'
    Katy Perry ft. Snoop Dogg - 'California Gurls'
    Kelly Rowland ft. David Guetta - 'Commander'
    Lady GaGa - 'Alejandro'
    Professor Green ft. Lily Allen - 'Just Be Good To Green'
    Kylie Minogue - 'All The Lovers'
    Pixie Lott - 'Turn It Up'
    JLS - 'The Club Is Alive'
    Kelis - '4th July (Fireworks)'

    They are the ones I have so far... anymore for anymore? Also, if you feel any of those songs don't belong on there please feel free to say so. :) Voting will start in mid-July, once all the possible summer singles have been announced.

  • Comment number 9.

    Ooooh, I love these threads but I don't think anyone else does because nobody went for my ChartBlog chart every week. But let's test the waters and see how it works. Here are my thoughts on the above singles in order of preference.

    01. Kelly Rowland: Commander
    02. Scissor Sisters: Fire With Fire
    03. Kylie Minogue: All The Lovers
    04. Ke$ha: Your Love Is My Drug
    05. Katy Perry featuring Snoop Dogg: California Gurls
    06. Pixie Lott: Turn It Up
    07. Lady GaGa: Alejandro
    08. Kelis: 4th Of July (Fireworks)
    09. Professor Green featuring Lily Allen: Just Be Good To Green
    10. JLS: The Club Is Alive

    I haven't heard Alexandra's new song so I can't comment and it's not on YouTube so I couldn't be bothered searching for it all over the net. I'd like to pitch forward Rihanna's Te Amo, M.I.A.'s XXXO and Gorillaz' On Melancholy Hill too.

  • Comment number 10.

    Righto, I'll give 'XXXO' and 'On Melancholy Hill' a listen Randy and see what I think, and anyway you don't need to vote yet, because it's really only the beginning of the summer single season but I'll take yours and anyone else's suggestions into account. :)

    By the way, I'm not collating data yet because not all the summer singles are out yet and also you need to have heard every one. It's great that you show an eagerness though, thanks Randy. I have a feeling they'll be about 20 odd by the end of the summer but we'll see come poll openings - I'm still deciding on a date.

    Now everyone... FOLLOW SUIT.

  • Comment number 11.

    Oh OddOne you have to hear the aforementioned songs above. XXXO is a futuristic love song that is catchy enough for casual M.I.A. fans. On Melancholy Hill has this subtle Summery beauty to it - check out the song's 5 STAR video. Oh and I know the Summer single season has only just begun but I want to throw in Robyn's Dancing On My Own too. Not exactly the most upbeat song but I will definitely from now on always associate that song with Summer.

  • Comment number 12.

    You know, I was at Weymouth today and heard that song being blasted out of the arcade speakers, and believe me, the song - as melancholy as it is - was SO danceable, everyone was frolicking and singing along as they watched England defeat Slovenia.

    It sounded so summery too! Like it was meant for blasting out of a hot summer's day. So yes I'll gladly put it on the list.

  • Comment number 13.

    I think both me and Randy have been bigging this song up for months .

    What are the odds on Katy achieving the feat of a number 1 single on both sides of the pond ?

    If she can fight off the World Cup effect of Wavin Flags and the Wossy effect of Fire With Fire , then a unique chart double will be hers !

  • Comment number 14.

    Strangely, 'Fire With Fire' remains just outside the Top 10... how irritating. But good on Katy this is a brilliant song for the summer so I wish her only the best.

  • Comment number 15.

    So I've being going on about this for a long time and now I've developed (hopefully) the best possible way to do this thangggg.

    Well, there a lot of competition this year for the title of summer anthem. A summer anthem has to envoke the real sense of summer - fun, frolicking, relaxing and just feeling great. This song, the video and the lyrics should evoke the feeling of summer and everything that comes with it.

    So I'm going to start a competition, I've done this over at Unreality Shout and have spent the last few days compiling songs and sorting out the instructions and restrictions.


    The poll will be created and a link posted on here on the week commencing AUGUST 23RD, in order to let the singles released on the closing week of the poll to chart.

    You can vote however many times you want for your favourite summer single.

    You can vote for more than one single.

    Every song in the list will have to have been released between June 1, 2010 and August 17, 2010 (inclusive) to qualify for the poll.

    All the songs featured in the poll MUST have charted within the UK Top 40 to even get a look in.

    Only one song per artist can feature in the poll. If an artist has released two songs between the designated dates, the highest charting of the two will automatically have priority.

    Only singles which have received an official UK release will qualify. No tracks from a leaked album will be taken into account.

    If a track has a release date announced after August 17th, yet has managed to peak in the UK Top 40 early, it will be ignored as it will not have received it's offical release before the closing date previously stated.

    Please do not feel you have to be biased towards your favourite artists should they appear in the poll. Please vote solely on the single and how well it encapsulates the summer vibe.

    The poll will open on the 23rd August, 2010, and close exactly two weeks later, on 6th September, 2010.

    To prevent votes cast after the closing date being counted, the poll will be deleted after the results have been collated.

    These instructions and restrictions are final.

    So, on August 23rd you'll all get the chance to see the possible contenders from Summer Anthem 2010, they'll be posted on here in a list. Then you can click on a link which will take you to the poll in which all the above intrusctions and restrictions will apply. You can then vote for your favourite.

    I do apologise if a sounded a little hostile in this post and so I'd just like to say I'm actually quite nice.

    So yeah, get deciding and I hope to see you all on August 23rd.

  • Comment number 16.

    This is one of those songs that has the components of bad song but it works because of the wry playfulness within Ms. Perry. It's a reply to Empire State of Mind, and it's perfect in it's the total opposite. The severe strings, plinky-plonk piano and general East Coast vibe fully represents New York. The silly synths, happy-go-lucky lyrics and THAT video are fully repping Californ.i.a. She know exactly what she's doing and all the better for it. The best has to be D-O-double G however. I adore the cameo. I'm thinking 4. Just because Robyn is the best female artist right now, so takes her down a notch.

  • Comment number 17.

    California proves to be a commercial paradise .

    This track sold over 120,000 copies to debut at number 1 !

  • Comment number 18.

    If Teenage Dream does not make it onto the Radio 1 "A" LIST , then I will run across Clifton Suspension Bridge naked !!!

    Don't panic !!

    It won't happen .

    I know a Radio 1 "A" list song , when I hear one .


  • Comment number 19.

    Teenage Dream certainly will make the A-list, but I'm worried that they seem to have decided to add most songs to the playlist a week later than they usually do. Normally they have 4 full weeks on the playlist before their release, now they have just 3 weeks - at least 1 of which is on the C-list so that doesn't really count. If this is something they are going to start doing regularly, we can expect less and less high new entries, especially from new artists.

  • Comment number 20.

    While we are about it , let's analyse why it's a brilliant pop single .

    Teenage Dream

    There will be a huge target demographic of young people who buy this song , as they identify with the uplifting lyric .

    It's a superb polished production with a catchy verse and monumental pop chorus .

    This will no doubt be a radio top 10 airplay hit , and have blanket play over all the commercial stations .

    For me the real magic is the parts after each chorus , when the vocal melody changes and Katy sings :

    "I'm a get your heart racing , in my skin tight jeans , be your teenage dream tonight. "

    To me , this melody is pop song heaven , and is so magical that words to describe it won't do it justice .

    The "don't look back" refrain in the chorus is also a winner , and as the chorus melody is repeated , and Katy sings "My heart stops" and the drumbeat comes in and the keyboard motif slightly changes , this enhances the song too .

    The video is also a huge selling point for the song . Glorious .

    In short , Teenage Dream is a brilliant late Summer single.

    This will be a HUGE hit , WORLDWIDE !

  • Comment number 21.

    @19, I agree, it was shcoking when. last week, the highest new entry was at #19!

    It's also quite depressing to see that every single from #11-#40 has fallen... quite substantially, so they're basically tripping over each other in a desperate attempt to leave the Top 40.

    The pattern is only broken by one non-mover, and two songs which both climbed two places.

    Not looking good, I must say.

  • Comment number 22.

    See back in the day , I would have put a lot of Francs on Teenage Dream by Katy Perry , going to Number 1 .

    I just know weeks before release , that is where it is heading .
    It has all the ingredients of a Number 1 SINGLE .

    Profile , chorus , TV possibilities , radio possibilities , the appeal to hundreds of thousands that will like it . I can gauge how it will be received , and it will be massive .

    So long as they release it the week before the album , and not the same day , then I am hopeful .

    Number 1 .

    Now ho is with me ?

  • Comment number 23.

    I'll need to see it's release competition first :D

  • Comment number 24.

    Well hurry up Buddy .

    You can't wait for the help of I-tunes or Greg James's Midweek chart .

    Chop chop ! :)


  • Comment number 25.

    At 22 , it looks like Virgin are going to release the single Teenage Dream , and the album Teenage Dream , on the same day , August 30th , so this could seriously hamper the single from getting to number 1 .

    For example Arcade Fire released "The Suburbs" and "We Used To Wait" on the same day .

    Result : The album went to number 1 , whereas the single entered at number 75 !

    So thank you Virgin Records, I am amending my prediction . When singles and albums are released on the same day , it becomes very hard to judge the success of either , because many people may buy one or the other.


  • Comment number 26.

    I don't suppose it helps that they are both titled exactly the same names? Hmm...

  • Comment number 27.

    The management have been careless with the release of the next single here. They must of just forgotten how soon it is until the album is released, and by then it was too late to decide to release the single on it's own. Still, I think it'll be no.1 anyway.

  • Comment number 28.

    Ha ha

    @18 , on the 4th of August .

    No naked running for Spirit !

    Teenage Dream is NOW on the A list .

    Kutox , you can put your camera down ! :)

  • Comment number 29.

    California Gurls was the biggest selling single of 2010 , by a female artist .

    Can't help but smile at Kutie's comments at 1 . :)

  • Comment number 30.

    spirit, as much as I feel kutox is more than capable of standing his own ground, not anywhere did he say this would be a commercial flop in his comment at #1.

    He gave a personal response where he felt disappointed by the low quality of the song, citing that the lyrics weren't great and the chorus didn't have the sticking power of her previous singles such as 'Hot 'n' Cold' (and I agree).

    He didn't mention how he thought it would do sales-wise, only that it would hit #1 because of Katy's current popularity so there's no reason to rub this in his face, as he never said it wouldn't be a success.

  • Comment number 31.

    Oddie , you are seriously putting words in my mouth .

    . Kutie got the number 1 position right and Katy's accompanying popularity right , the rest was his own personal view and his comment makes me smile .

    Hot n Cold is indeed a supremely fantastic pop single .

    Are you implementing a smiling ban now ???


  • Comment number 32.

    But just because someone has a simple aversion to a particular song is no reason to boast the fact it was the best-selling single by a female artist this year.

    Music is subjective, and just because something sold well, doesn't mean kutox has to like it.

  • Comment number 33.

    I really think we are talking at cross purposes here .

    I stated a fact about California Gurls and I stated a fact that Kutie's comment made me smile . A lot of his comments make me smile , which is why I like reading them and will continue to do so .
    His honest and personal analysis is refreshing .

    There are loads of songs that I don't personally like that got to number 1 .

    Seven Tears by The Goombay Dance Band for example. (although , sadly I could see it's appeal ) but I never want to hear it again , thanks .

  • Comment number 34.

    Dear Kutox

    On the 2nd of January 2011 at 12.55 pm , I had the audacity to smile at one of your comments on the Radio 1 Chartblog , for Katy Perry's California Gurls .

    I realise now , that it was wrong to smile and if I have caused any offence or unneccessary suffering in your personal or professional life ,because of the aforementioned smiling , I would like to take this opportunity to apologise , wholeheartedly .

    Your Loving Friend

    Spirit .

  • Comment number 35.

    Well I don't know what to say... ummm, thanks, I guess? lol

    If I was to review this song now I would be much harsher than I was back in mid-June! At first I reserved my true opinion as I (usually) give songs time to grow on me if I don't like them at first, but this song just got worse with me the more I heard it, and now I can't stand to listen to it - if it comes on the radio I switch over!

    Katy Perry is one of those singers who's riding on a huge wave of current fame. She's always in the papers, being talked about on the internet, constantly on tv shows, performing at high-profile award ceremonies around the world... all that sorta stuff. Basically, none of it is to do with musical talent. I know that's not unique to her, but bar a few catchy pop tunes, she hasn't even released anything remotely cutting-edge or exciting, yet she's managed to achieve worldwide success and popularity.

    I Kissed A Girl gained everyone's attention because of the lyrics, and reached no.1 in 30 countries, and she followed it up with the excellent Hot n Cold which topped 25 charts around the world. Because Katy Perry is very tabloid-friendly, she's been constantly in the media since her first single became a success. And then of course there's her personal life, which has just made her even more followed in the press, and has helped her become something of a household name.

    With California Gurls being released right at the height of her popularity, it was inevitably going to be a huge hit. All she had to do was release a semi-catchy pop song with some silly lyrics which the chart-buying kids would love, and it would be a hit. The songs cause was helped further by the way it was wrapped up in some faux-summery California nonsense, just to get everyone saying 'OMG SUMMER SMASH!!' And it worked.

    Disclaimer: I'm not saying you were disagreeing with me, spirit, I just felt like elaborating on why I thought this song was always going to be a hit :)

  • Comment number 36.

    And you were of course absolutely right .

    What I liked about your comment is that you gave a real honest analysis of the song , YET you were able to concede that while you yourself found it disappointing , you could tap into the feelings of the mass record buying public and the media machine and see WHY IT WAS GOING TO BE A BIG HIT .

    Not a lot of people can do that . Some people can ONLY see things subjectively , from their OWN perspective and cannot fathom why songs they dislike or find irritating go on to be huge hits .

    Some people even chastise others for buying the songs and making them hits .

    It refreshing to see people who don't like certain songs , think outside the box and list the factors why 250,000 or so , OTHER people may want to buy it and make it a hit .

    This shows perception , empathy and a whole lot of integrity .

  • Comment number 37.

    Why thank you, I'm flattered lol

    But yes, I am somewhat fascinated about the reasons why some songs prove popular and some don't, which is why I spend a lot of time talking about it here and elsewhere (e.g. my post about Scissor Sisters latest album @ 1236 on Jedward).

    A lot of the time, on all different forums and sites, I see people simply saying things like 'why are people buying this garbage?' when they don't like a song (which we all think sometimes) but personally I like to analyse beyond that with most songs.

    I'm interested in how a song's popularity is influenced by it's quality, catchyness, and the artist who performs it - to name just 3 factors. There are so many different factors, all of which affect all songs on varying levels.

    I might list a few examples of songs later when I have more time!

  • Comment number 38.

    Yeah those 3 factors are important.

    As is radio play , T.v airplay , T.v and radio promotion , marketing strategies , media profiling ,production and effect of the song, management and MANY other things .

    The most important factor of course are the hooks and appeal of the song .

    If you haven't got that , as Nadine found with Insatiable , no amount of money , promotion or media profiling can save you .

    Having been around the business for a while , like yourself , I have long gone past the one dimensional analysis of songs , of saying , I like or don't like a song . The subjective analysis which anyone , (including my Mum and 5 yr old niece ) can do , to me , is like looking through tunnel vision and being unaware of what the whole world could be thinking.
    It is much more fulfilling and takes a lot more nous , to really examine the many facets of the OVERALL strategy , that goes into releasing a single . I like to analyse all the factors involved and try to view the song through many other peoples eyes and assess what strengths the song has , to be popular to others .


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