Review: Hello Kitty by Avril Lavigne!

Hello, and welcome ot the Fullmetal Narcissist anime blog!  I’m Naru, and while I was originally intending to post my top ten favorite anime characters this week, I had a much more interesting idea suggested to me, and I just couldn’t wait to use it.  Yeah, I’m doing something new today. I’m doing a music review. I’ll still put up the characters list next week, but I was a lot more pumped about this one, so I hope you enjoy it.

Earlier this year, former celebrity Avril Lavigne decided to shock the world… By abruptly informing us that she’s not dead yet. And if that news wasn’t depressing enough, she decided to deliver this message by releasing what is by far her worst song since Girlfriend. Which, on it’s own, was just slightly worse than Sk8erBoi.

Yeah, that’s right, I hated Sk8erBoi. I guess that makes me a h8erBoi.

Now, I’ll admit that Girlfriend was an unoriginal, uncalled for waste of time, and I’ll argue that Sk8erBoi was poorly written and kind of annoying. But they were still ear worms, just like most of Avril’s more well known songs. They sounded pretty damn good, if you didn’t pay too much attention to what they were saying. You know, the same way fast food tastes great, as long as you don’t ask too many questions.

So how could she possibly release a song that’s worse than Girlfriend? Well, for one thing, you can take away the ear worm effect, and make a song with no real tune that’s entirely unlistenable. Dubstep is usually the answer for that. There are a few artists who can pull off good dubstep… Even if they have to throw in arbitrary Pony references to get noticed by people… And Avril Lavigne is, surprisingly, not one of them. She was arguably decent as a fake punk rocker, but there is no way she could ever pull off being a fake Skrillex. Hell, she couldn’t even get a decent shave when copying his hair cut.

Okay, getting back on track, the song’s name is “Hello Kitty,” and we’vereached one of the most obvious base-breakers in music history. There are only two kinds of people who intentionally would watch somebody like Avril Lavigne sing a song called Hello Kitty: The morbidly curious who want to see how bad it is, and the optimistic, who are hoping for some kind of clever genre subversion. And if you belong to the second group, then try not to get your fist stuck when you punch through your monitor.

Go watch the video if you haven’t already, using the link below, and we’ll talk afterwards.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LiaYDPRedWQ

I can wait.

Seen it? Good. Finished it? No? There’s no shame in that. Let’s continue.

So, you may be asking why she did a song and video that leans really heavily towards Japanese culture. Well, apparently, Avril Lavigne has a huge following in Japan, and this song was meant to be a tribute to them. I guess I should be shocked by the fact that any community could be so into her, but when you think about it logically, the best way to enjoy her work is by not paying any attention to the lyrical content… And what better way to do that then by applying a language barrier? And since the Japanese seem partial to upbeat ear worms with shallow or just plain weird lyrical content, I’m having trouble understanding why she doesn’t just move there and become an idol.

Seriously, take her. She’s been to Japan before, and their first reaction was to shower her with Hello Kitty related gifts… They even sent out a girl in a Hello Kitty costume just to make her happy. Come on, they clearly want her more than we do.

Okay, so to review the actual product… Well, there’s two routes I need to go. Should I start with the lyrical analysis, or should I review the video first?

Let’s start with the video, which is covered with enough candy-coated goodness to give Pinkie Pie diabetes. We get a close-up on Avril and what I really hope is a really bad lobotomy shave that hasn’t fully grown back yet. She’s standing in front of four stone-faced Asian women, one of whom looks distressingly familiar. They’re dancing in a candy store… With the asian dancers dancing circles around Avril, who’s just bopping her head and throwing up the least earned rock and roll hand signs ever thrown. The candy store is decked out inch by inch with cutesie pink barf, which calls her rock signs immediately into question. She makes Elaine Benes look like a You Got Served alumnus.

Oh, supposedly people think this video is racist… Probably should have mentioned that earlier. I don’t see it just yet… The dancers are stone-faced and robotic, but I don’t think that’s an Asian stereotype, though. That’s more of a German or Russian stereotype, as many Germans and Russians have been portrayed that way in anime.

Also, considering how many blatantly racist characters I’ve seen in my years of anime viewing, including a certain African character from a certain futuristic sports show I’ll be reviewing at some point in the future, I’m really resisting the urge to bring this topic into ‘pot vs. kettle’ territory.

So, Avril’s spending this entire video frolicking, beckoning to the camera, pretending to play guitar, and lip synching to a pre-recorded and heavily autotuned track. So she’s basically doing nothing. Yeah, I don’t know how, but Avril can irritate the crap out of people without putting in any more than the barest minimum of effort. I’m actually kind of jealous now. Well, maybe it’s social commentary on how things created in the west are now being wholly produced and manufactured in the east? We’ll see where this goes.

Okay, the scene finally changed, and now she’s at the world’s loneliest sushi bar. She’s pouring sake… I sense a disturbing rift between the childish vibe of this video and the consumption of alcohol, but let’s move past that… Oh, two of her robo-dancers are standing behind a gruff looking older man. He’s serving her sushi, and she looks really happy to be receiving it.

You know, there hasn’t been a single visual reference to Hello Kitty so far… Or even any vaguely feline imagery, unless you count her lazy dancing. And yet she looks really happy to be getting that sushi… Is she trying to imply that Asian food is made out of cats? Look, I’m really struggling to rationalize this, so shut up.

Next shot, she’s strolling down the street and waving with her girlfriends walking in line behind her, filmed in black and white, because pretentious. Next.

Are those girls actually supposed to be playing robots? I mean, if anybody has that kind of technology, it’s Japan, and of course like anybody playing God, they’d create beings in their own likeness… I’ll buy it…

Oh boy. I don’t know what you call that thing where the video gets all choppy to the tune of … Whatever the autotuned equivalent of a scratched disk is… But she took a picture of them, and now they’re smiling. Probably because she’s not in the picture, and it reminds them of a time before they met her. That, or narcissism.

And she keeps doing the same thing for the rest of the video, ending on a high kick where she has the foresight to block the camera from getting an upskirt shot. Huh, maybe she knows Japanese culture more than she lets on. Well, that was the video, and while I was able to pull a few forced meanings out of my ass, the only solid theme I could spot throughout the video was how crappy it was. But hey, the magic of a song isn’t in it’s video, it’s in the lyrics! I’m sure a close examination of this song’s lyrics will reveal some kind of substance under the pile of glittery sugar-puke.

So let’s pull up those lyrics, and take a read, shall we?

“Mina Saiko Arigato, K-k-k-kawaii!”

So, we’re starting off with a japanese phrase… How surprising. Well, it translates roughly to “Thank you, you’re all great,” which seems to be a nod towards her Japanese fan base. That’s actually very thoughtful of her, when you think about it. Maybe not the best way to start a song, but there’s some appreciation behind it, so I’ll let it slide. The word Kawaii means cute, and it’s one of the first japanese words any anime viewer ever learns. There’s an infinite number of ways to make that word annoying, and Avril’s hip repetition of the K sound is probably somewhere near the top of that list.

“M o m ‘ s  n o t  h o m e  t o n i g h t

I should certainly hope not, seeing how you’re thirty. Or are you referring to your husband’s mom? Wow, there’s no version of this that isn’t creepy, is there?

“S o  w e  c a n  r o l l  a r o u n d ,  h a v e  a  p i l l o w  f i g h t ”

I’m assuming not at the same time? Okay, for the sake of this song, let’s assume that Avril’s singing about being a teenager again. There are lots of musical artists that make a living off of singing about their high school experiences… Just look at Nickelback. Okay, so you’re rolling around and having a pillowfight with the listener? Honestly, if it was Avril herself offering, I might just get involved.

“L i k e  a  m a j o r  r a g e r  O M F G ”

Oh. Okay, a rager, as in a gathering of a lot of people. All right, but what -kind of rager has people rolling around and having a pillowfight? Are we talking college or high school? It probably means college, since ragers usually involve alcohol… Damn, I actually typed that with a straight face.

“L e t ‘ s  a l l   s l u m b e r  p a r t y ”

A slumber party? Okay, we’re definitely talking high school here.

“L i k e  a  f a t  k i d  o n  a  p a c k  o f  S m a r t i e s ”

I honestly consider this to be the most ignorant, blatantly offensive thing she says in the entire song. I mean, for God’s sake, she’s implying that a self respecting fat kid would go near a pack of Smarties! Sorry, but fat kids tend to know the difference between good candy and bad candy, and Smarties taste like flavored chalk.

“S o m e o n e  c h u c k  a  c u p c a k e  a t  m e ”

Who throws a cupcake? Honestly!

“I t ‘ s  t i m e  f o r  s p i n  t h e  b o t t l e ”

Spin the bottle? Okay… Are there boys at this party? Well, it’s a good thing that your *gag* mother isn’t home, isn’t it?

“N o t  g o n n a  t a l k  a b o u t  i t  t o m o r r o w
K e e p  i t  j u s t  b e t w e e n  y o u  a n d  m e ”

…This changes things. If we’re really banking on the idea that we can go crazy at this party, with pillow fights and spin the bottle, it’s fairly obvious that there’d be lasting consequences were this a coed party. So, all girls, then?

“L e t ‘ s  p l a y  t r u t h  o r  d a r e  n o w ”

Okay… Another common slumber party game…

“W e  c a n  r o l l  a r o u n d  i n  o u r  u n d e r w e a r  h o w ”

Umm… This song is starting to sound really weird to me. It was already bad, but now it’s kind of taking a turn towards the uncomfortable. Why are you emphasizing the word underwear? Are you saying that nobody at the party has the option of keeping their pajamas on throughout the rolling? I gotta say, if she gets a little more persuasive about this, it’s going to start entering into Michael Jackson territory.

“E v e r y  s i l l y  k i t t y  s h o u l d  b e ”

Aaaaaaaand we’re into Michael Jackson territory.

“C o m e  c o m e  K i t t y  K i t t y
Y o u ‘ r e  s o  p r e t t y  p r e t t y
D o n ‘ t  g o  K i t t y  K i t t y
S t a y  w i t h  m e
C o m e  c o m e  K i t t y  K i t t y
Y o u ‘ r e  s o  s i l l y  s i l l y
D o n ‘ t  g o  K i t t y  K i t t y
P l a y  w i t h  m e ”

What the hell? Now you’re beckoning your cat to come and spend some time with you? I know cats are awesome, and you always want them by your side, purring for you, but to be this desperate to summon him… Okay, you’re drunk now, aren’t you? You’re drunk, lying on the floor, ad you see your cat walk by, probably taking in the sights and trying to figure out what’s going on in his house.

“W a k e  u p ,  g o t  a  s e c r e t ”

Okay, so you just became closer to your friends after spending some time with them, and now you want to deepen the bond by sharing a secret with them. Go on.

“P i n k y  s w e a r  t h a t  y o u ‘ r e  g o n n a  k e e p  i t ”

Yeah, I’m sorry, I know we’re imagining Avril as a teenager, but I can’t help but primarily think of her as the punk rock Complicated girl she pretended to be. Hearing her talk about pinkie swearing is really ruining my memories of her.

“I ‘ v e  g o t  s o m e t h i n g  y o u  n e e d  t o  s e e ”

Something your friends need to see? So, your secret is something tangible that you can actually show people? Or is it a trick you can do? I’m really getting excited about what this secret might be.

“L e t ‘ s  b e  f r i e n d s  f o r e v e r ”

Okay… Selling the idea a little hard, there…

“I  w a n n a  d o  e v e r y t h i n g  w i t h  y o u  t o g e t h e r”

Everything? Like, everything everything?

“C o m e  a n d  p l a y  w i t h  K i t t y  a n d  m e ”

I… I feel ridiculous for not picking up on this until now, because it’s starting to look embarrassingly obvious what this song is actually about… Clearly, Avril Lavigne is really proud of her pet cat, isn’t she? Well, either that, or this whole song is about a big high school lesbian orgy.

And the rest is all chorus, and now that I’ve considered the ‘high school experiment’ angle, the constant use of the phrase ‘come kitty’ has me more and more convinced that she’s talking about pussies… Both hers, and the others in the room.

So, in the end, we have a thirty year old woman singing a song about a high school lesbian orgy, set to a video about mix-and-match Japanese culture, set to a tune and tone that’s entirely, and uncompromisingly, childish. You know, I can’t be the only person thinking that these three elements really don’t go together at all. If the lyrics were about a literal cat saying Hello to people, it would still make just as much sense as it does now. It’d be creepy, in so many ways, if it wasn’t one of the stupidest songs that I’ve heard since Friday by Rebecca Black. Hell, you know what? I think I’ll compare the two. It’s not too far out of my way at this point.

For those who don’t know, Friday is a song/video released a few years ago when some creeper convinced a thirteen year old girl to make her own music video. And the result can only be described as indescribable. This isn’t a Friday review, so I’ll let you draw your own conclusions on it, but it basically became famous BECAUSE of how terrible it was. It was a sort of “TGOC” kind of fame, where you force your friends to watch it so you can see their reaction. A description that now describe Avril’s borderline unwatchable video.

Let’s see… They’re both overproduced, terribly written sacks of random crap with insultingly stupid, insipid videos. They’re both suffering from a severe lack of focus, and an even more severe case of autotune. Okay, so the autotune isn’t as noticeable in Avril’s case, but the dubstep makes up for it. They’re both grating, vapid wastes of time that are only noteworthy for their ‘how long can you watch this” appeal.

The only real difference is the fact that Rebecca Black released her song at the beginning of her career, so she still had some time to learn from her mistake. She actually wound up getting better with each song, and yes, that implies exactly what you think it does… I actually kind of like Miss Black’s post-friday material. Granted, none of it is especially great… Save for “In Your Words,” which I freaking love… But at least she’s shown genuine and consistent improvement through it.

The same can not be said for Avril Lavigne, who had the exact opposite happen… She began her career on a fairly decent note, and then just got worse and worse over time, losing huge chunks of personality with each album. Hell, Avril didn’t truly jump the shark until just this year, at what I can only pray is the end of her career, as opposed to the beginning. Hell, she should probably thank Black for reviving the trend of ‘so bad it’s awesome’ in music.

You know, that kind of… Wait… It can’t be… Did she do this on purpose? Was Avril making a terrible song on purpose, just to piggyback that trend? Was she just mimicking Rebecca Black out of some desperate hope for some public acknowledgement? That would explain a lot… I mean, no adult human being is actually stupid enough to think lyrics like “Silly Kitty Pretty Kitty” belong anywhere outside of a Big Bang Theory episode. I mean, it’s not like she’s Chad Kroeger or anything.

Oh wait, I forgot. She’s married to him, and he cowrote the song. Well, color me proven wrong, this probably was a genuine effort to make a hit song. There was some real sincerity in this. I don’t know, I kind of feel like it would be a good idea to end the review at this point… I mean, putting the two of them together and criticizing something they made together feels kind of like heckling the Special Olympics, and that’s just depressing.

So in closing… I can’t really speak as to whether or not this song is racist, as I’m white, and I’m not really qualified to judge. All I can say is that it’s not nearly as racist as Two Broke Girls.

So yeah, I don’t exactly have a rating system for songs, so I’ll just conclude by saying that everything about this is terrible, and the only reason I don’t want it’s existence erased from history is the fact that it spawned some awesome parody videos… In particular, I’d recommend Tess Paras’s riff on Canada, and Shane Dawson’s riff on Avril being freaking thirty years old. You should watch Hello Kitty, but only so you can experience these two wonderful pieces of work to their fullest.

I’m the Fullmetal Narcissist, and you’re welcome!  

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