"I Kissed a Girl" is a song written by Katy Perry, Dr. Luke, Max Martin, and Cathy Dennis for Perry's album, One of the Boys. The song was released as the debut single of the album on June 16, 2008. The song was featured in the 2010 Guinness World Records for selling 3.8 million digital downloads for a debut single. The song was performed at, as well as and a nominee at the 51st Grammy Awards (Grammy Award for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance). It was also nominated for "Favorite Song" at the 2009 Kids' Choice Awards. The song is recognized as the 10th best selling single in the 21st century.
Perry's A&R, Chris Anokute, told HitQuarters how, despite being himself convinced it was a "career record", the song and its controversial theme met with strong resistance at the label, "People said, 'This is never going to get played on the radio. How do we sell this? How’s this going to be played in the bible belt?'"
Anokute said that he needed the support of one of the label's radio promoters to convince people to believe in the record otherwise Perry would have likely been dropped again. Capitol's SVP of Promotions Dennis Reese saw the vision and helped Anokute push the single on national radio. The first station to pick it up and take a chance was The River in Nashville. After playing it for three days they were innundated with enthusiastic calls.
Inspiration and lyrics
Katy Perry has stated that "I Kissed A Girl" is just a way for me to seem edgy and cool, I think it worked."
"Everyone takes the song and relates it to their situation, they can see it however they want to see it. Love it, hate it, for me it was about us girls. When we're young, we're very touchy-feeley. We have slumber party sing-a-longs, we make up dance routines in our pajamas. We’re a lot more intimate in a friendship than guys can be. It’s not perverse but just sweet, that's what the song is about..."
The song was partially inspired by Scarlett Johansson. Perry admitted to Steppin' Out magazine saying,
"I Kissed a Girl" was inspired when I opened up a magazine and I saw a picture of Scarlett Johansson. I was with my boyfriend at the time, and I said to him, 'I'm not going to lie: If Scarlett Johansson walked into the room and wanted to make out with me, I would make out with her. I hope you're okay with that?"
Perry has also stated in a issue of Q magazine that the song was inspired by a particular person,
"The song was inspired by a friendship I had with a girl when I was 15, but I didn't kiss her. I was totally obsessed with her. She was beautiful – porcelain skin, perfect lips – and I still talk to her, but I've never told her the song is about her."
The same was said in an issue of Rolling Stone calling it a "girl crush". It was also revealed by Perry's father, Keith Hudson, that the song was written while she was mad at her boyfriend.
"I Kissed a Girl" has drawn mixed reviews from critics. Blogcritics called it "an instantly catchy number", and About.com said, "fueled by an instrumental wallop provided courtesy of producer Dr. Luke, "I Kissed a Girl" is the perfect breakthrough". However, Rolling Stone magazine, while giving her album 2/5 stars, described the song as a "New Wave-y club single", saying the supposedly rebellious "attention-grabbing" lyrics are "a vanilla recounting of her chick-on-chick exploits" and that this "acting out" is "just to get a dude's attention". This song was number 20 on Rolling Stone's list of the 100 Best Songs of 2008. Allmusic praises "the stomping Gary Glitter beat" before criticizing the producers for turning it "into a leaden stumble and burying Perry's voice underneath Pro Tools overdubs so it all winds up as a faceless wash of sound designed to be placed in TV shows, movie trailers, and malls".
Sal Cinquemani of Slant magazine wrote, Perry's "lead single "I Kissed a Girl" features a throbbing beat and an infectious, bi-curious hook, but its self-satisfied, in-your-face posturing rings phony in comparison to the expertly constructed ambiguities of "Justify My Love" or practically anything in the first decade of Ani DiFranco's catalog; it's like a tween version of DiFranco's tortured bisexual confession "Light of Some Kind"". Hiponline.com wrote that the song is "not nearly as interesting or exciting as you’d expect. It’s not even half as good as Jill Sobule’s song 'I Kissed a Girl'". Glitterati Gossip agrees Sobule's song "was ten times better, because there was actual emotional content to her lyrics".
Sobule shared her feelings about Perry's song and use of the title in a July 2009 interview with The Rumpus:
|“||When Katy Perry's song came out I started getting tons of inquiries about what I thought. Some folks (and protective friends) were angry, and wondered why she took my title and made it into this kind of 'girls gone wild' thing....
As a musician I have always refrained from criticizing another artist. I was, 'Well, good for her.' It did bug me a little bit, however, when she said she came up with the idea for the title in a dream. In truth, she wrote it with a team of professional writers and was signed by the very same guy that signed me in 1995. I have not mentioned that in interviews as I don't want to sound bitter or petty...
Okay, maybe, if I really think about it, there were a few jealous and pissed-off moments. So here goes, for the first time in an interview: [jokingly] Fuck you, Katy Perry, you fucking stupid, maybe 'not good for the gays,' title-thieving, haven't heard much else, so not quite sure if you're talented, fucking little slut.
AllMusic concluded "the problem is not with Katy's gender-bending, it's that her heart isn't in it; she's just using it to get her places, so she sinks to crass, craven depths". Slant Magazine agrees, saying the song "isn't problematic because it promotes homosexuality, but because its appropriation of the gay lifestyle exists for the sole purpose of garnering attention — both from Perry's boyfriend and her audience".
Adam Holz of PluggedinOnline, a division of Focus on the Family, wrote an article entitled "A Tale of Two Katys" about the singer's image transformation from a Contemporary Christian Music artist to one of the "girls gone wild". He criticizes the song for being the latest, "high-profile message to young women and men that our sexuality is a malleable commodity that can be reshaped at will". Holz also argues that Perry's message carries with it "no need to worry about who might get used or objectified in the process", causing Perry to live "down to a damaging, demeaning stereotype".
In some areas of the world the song's lyrics have kept it from reaching the Top 40 or to even be released at all. The song is banned in Singapore. Though the Toronto Star describes it as "a lesbian-friendly tune", whether homophobia fuels negative reactions to the song or the song itself appears to divide critics. Slant and other critics suggest that Perry may be homophobic, especially given her single "Ur So Gay", which makes "I Kissed a Girl" seem like "a classic example of the 'Guys kissing is gross, girls kissing is hot' line of thought," which promotes hypersexualization of queer women and demonization of queer men. MomLogic.com writer Vuv-A-Licious agrees, asking "What's the big deal? ...When this tune is playing and my son and daughter are dancing, I will be trying to dance along, or trying to acknowledge that they may one day dance to the beat of a different drummer than me".
In an August 2008, interview with the Daily Mail, Perry's mother, Mary Hudson, an evangelical Christian preacher, was reported as saying that she disliked the song, stating "It clearly promotes homosexuality and its message is shameful and disgusting...." However, Perry took to her official blog stating that her mother's supposed comments were completely fabricated, while also saying her parents love and support her and attend many of her shows.
Regarding the question of her own sexuality that the song has raised, Perry told Santa Barbara magazine "I like to kiss boys, but there is no doubt in my mind if Angelina Jolie or Gisele Bündchen came a callin', who wouldn't pucker up?". In an interview on the blog The New Gay, Perry admitted she has never actually kissed a girl and is heterosexual. She is quoted as saying "Yeah, it’s fantasy, it’s a song about curiosity." However, in a separate interview, Perry stated that she has kissed a girl.
During December 2008, Openly bisexual singer Amanda Palmer performed a skit at several concerts where a Katy Perry look-alike made her way to the stage and began singing "I Kissed A Girl", only to end up being groped, kissed, and fondled by Palmer and comedian Margaret Cho. The skit ended with the two forcing a bound and gagged Perry into a faux wedding with Palmer. On her blog, Palmer mentioned that the piece was meant as a protest against Proposition 8, and claimed to wonder if Perry was exploiting homosexuality in order to sell her music.
In February 2009, Márcio Barros, a substitute English language teacher in a Distrito Federal, Brazil public school was fired after he used the song in a class activity among students ages 12 to 14. He was accused of promoting "homosexualism" and alcoholic beverages usage through the lyrics of the song. The Secretary of Education supported the decision of the head of the school.
During the Hello Katy Tour and promotional performances, the song is played exactly like the album version. For her MTV Unplugged album, Katy Perry decided to do a jazzy-remix of the song inspired by traditional pop and since then when it's played live, has been played in it's remix form. The second half is generally still played as it is normally known except for a long instrumental interlude after the bridge.
Katy Perry's degree of passion in the song is heard in her live performances, where she uses appropriate gestures to convey the message of the song, including a mock shocked expression where her mouth opens wide, and as a result, saliva pools in her mouth because she does not give herself time to swallow, which is a form of artistic expression as seen by 90s pop icon Tori Amos. This affects her pronounciation, but in a way many see as positive, giving it a more intimate feel, which is often the result of being able to hear "imperfections" in the song. The reason being, so that the songs flow together naturally and not sound choppy. She tends to do this with many of her songs when performing live, but it is by far the most frequently seen in I Kissed A Girl. Many recent performances give a long instrumental section so that she doesn't drool, but early versions before the interlude were added do exist.
The music video for "I Kissed a Girl" premiered on Katy Perry's personal website and MySpace on May 16, 2008; and later made its television debut on June 12th on TRL.
The music video for the song was released on May 16, 2008 on Perry's personal website and on MySpace. The video was directed by Kinga Burza and features a Moulin Rouge and burlesque-type setting with scenes of Perry, along with many other flamboyantly-dressed women dancing to the song. Towards the end of the video, she wakes up next to a male companion called Derek (DJ Skeet Skeet). Despite the song's title, there is no depiction of same-sex kissing. Perry features her real life friend and DJ, Mia Moretti, Markus Molinari's cat Bella, and Ke$ha.
The video has a very Moulin Rouge and burlesque-type setting with scenes of Perry, along with many other flamboyantly-dressed women, dancing to the song. During the video, the women and Perry have pillow fights and just enjoying being girls. Towards the end of the video, she wakes up next to her boyfriend and she goes back to sleep.
The video made its television debut on June 12, 2008 on TRL with the visit and interview by Perry in set show. On June 24, 2008 it became #1 on TRL. The video obtained high airplay on this music video channel, as well as on VH1. It debuted at #20 on VH1's VH1 Top 20 Video Countdown on June 28, 2008. On June 30, 2008 the video was premiered on MTV Latin America. On July 6, 2008, it rose to #4 on VH1's VH1 Top 20 Video Countdown. The video received five nominations for the 2008 MTV Video Music Awards, including Best Female Video and Best New Artist. The video has had over 38 million views on YouTube and an additional 67 million pre-vevo views. Due to the video and the song's popularity around the world, there are videos on YouTube which imitate and parody the song.