2010s

Pretty Shoes Can Save Your Life: Katy Perry – “Wide Awake”

Katy Perry Wide Awake

  Note: This song is being promoted as “the final chapter from ‘Teenage Dream: The Complete Confection’, which is available on iTunes. (And possibly The Cooking Channel, based on that title.) Apparently, that whole “Teenage Dream” album was a song cycle, detailing the various travails of our plucky lass as she worked her way from wherever she was to wherever she is now. This final song should wrap things up nicely, and even if it doesn’t, it’s still another exciting opportunity to see how Katy’s people have managed to once again use fluffy, pastel colors and form-fitting couture to showcase the naughty-nice exploits of our sparkling heroine as she triumphs both musically and artistically.)

We start out with Katy finishing up filming one of the scenes from the “California Gurls” video. This was the bit where she wallered around completely naked on the giant wad of pink cotton candy. (Which, by the way, should make you think twice about your choices the next time you walk up to a concession counter. Do you really want to munch on something that has already been humped? I’d stick with the pre-wrapped options.)  The director calls cut, everybody claps, and Katy hollers “another one in the can!”, which is probably not something one should holler whilst sprawled on her belly, hiney in the air, wearing nothing but spun sugar.

It doesn’t faze Katy, though, as someone hands her a robe and she scurries off to her dressing room, chatting with the director because you have to do that if you want to make sure that you look the prettiest in a movie. Once alone in her chamber, Katy plops down at the makeup desk, takes off one of what must be her 412 wigs, and then pauses to gaze at her image in the mirror. At first we think, wow, she must really like looking at herself, but then we hear some wind blowing and the camera whirls, so Katy was just professionally setting up a story transition by acting with her eyes.

Now we have Katy in another location, wearing a purple wig, an outfit that could pass as Goth or possibly really-unfocused Mennonite, and a pair of earrings that will instantly break eBay sales records. She looks at the camera and belts out the first “I’m wide awake!” announcement that she will then make 300 more times before the song is over. The camera pulls back so that we can see she is standing in the middle of some old stone structure that appears to go on for miles. (Is this symbolic of the stodgy, old-timer record executives who really don’t understand what is considered good music these days? Perhaps.)

Then Katy starts wandering around this structure, which appears to be a giant and creepy maze, complete with cobwebs,  billowing fog, and questionable wetness. She’s holding aloft an ancient lantern to help her find her way. Personally, I don’t want to go anywhere that requires me to hoist portable lighting so I can better see the zombies that might think my brains are an appetizer, even if the lantern is kind of cool and would look great on my patio. The camera pulls upwards so we can see that, yep, it’s a big-ass maze. If Katy plans to get out of here any time soon, she better pack a lunch and some vodka.

Oh, and it’s snowing in an odd, wispy way, which makes this maze look a bit like the one in The Shining. You know, the movie where Jack Nicholson went crazy in a hotel because dead guests were wanting to have sex with him and Shelley Duvall kept opening her mouth really, really wide every time she screamed about something else she found dissatisfying. This is turning out to be a non-ideal vacation spot. Katy needs to get on the horn with one of her assistants and get a new itinerary.

Whoops, Katy just spied a strawberry suspended from a dead tree. This is the part where the people who want to live to the end of the movie would run like hell, clawing their way over surprised lesser starlets who were only hired to have promiscuous sex and then die in the first ten minutes. But Katy doesn’t high-tail it. Nope, she seriously contemplates the berry while the walls seem to close in around her (another sign that you should run, or at least stop taking so many recreational pills). And of course she gives in and takes a big ole bite, because whatever might happen could prove to be really good song material for her next album.

Suddenly, the walls start rolling back to their assigned places. (Note to self: If you are being attacked by architecture, eat some fruit.) Then Katy leans back so a shower of sparks starts shooting out of her gothic breast. (The same pyrotechnics that we witnessed in the Firework video, a feat which was interesting then, but now seems to indicate that Katy might have some type of fetish that could seriously affect her electric bill.)

The fireball shoots into the sky like a drag-queen flare over the dank and darkened maze, which is apparently a signal that someone has been anticipating. A stone gate that we didn’t know existed opens wide (there are always doors like that in giant mazes, because people get lost and you have to go find their ass without getting too far behind on the office paperwork) and we see a little girl standing there in a little girl outfit. (This is not what I expected as rescue personnel. Was Liam Neeson too busy? That man can find people. And usually kill them if they don’t answer his questions satisfactorily.)

At first the little girl just stands there, kind of glaring at us like she’s really disappointed that our minimal cookie order was not very supportive of her troop. Then we have Katy and Little Girl facing each other and doing some type of mystical hand choreography, followed by both of them changing into matching outfits so they can walk down a narrow hallway with mirrors on all the walls. They get to the end of this hall, where we can see lots of paparazzi on the other side of one of the mirrors. Katy doesn’t seem impressed with this and doesn’t want to go forward, but if she really wants to get out of this mess I’m thinking one of those folks out there probably has a brochure map that they picked up at the guest services desk.

To help Katy make a decision, Little Girl helpfully points out that the floor behind them is crumbling and dropping out of sight. (Perhaps we should escalate whatever plan you have? Besides, I have some really important pre-school social activities that I need to attend instead of tromping around at Druid-Palooza.) So Katy grabs her hand and they go through the looking glass.

We cut to a stone-walled hospital/sanitarium of some kind, where Little Girl is pushing Katy along in a wheelchair down a hallway. I guess whatever was on the other side of the mirror was a bit too much, and Katy is now slumped over and unresponsive, though she’s still managing to clutch a strawberry in one hand. They come to a point in the hallway where two orderlies wearing bull-heads will not let anything pass. (I’m guessing the bull-heads are Republican congressmen.)

Little Girl marches up to the bulls, glares at them in the manner that little girls have when they are determined to own a Barbie Malibu Camper no matter what, and then she stomps her dainty little foot. Girl must have game, because the shockwaves of her sequined-slipper slapping the concrete causes the Bull-Heads to fly upwards and disappear. (What is it with sequined shoes that cause people to fly through the air or instantly transport back to black-and-white Kansas?)

The footwork also causes Katy to jolt back to her senses, and she leaps out of the wheelchair, grabs the arm of Little Girl, and they both race toward the now-unobstructed exit doors. (Leaving the poor strawberry behind, so I’m sure it will be needing some therapy.) They scurry around a corner and out into a lovely garden full of pretty flowers and delicate trees and topiary animals with eyes that spin. (Okay, that last bit is a little unnerving, with the spinning eyes that speak of the devil, but I’m not real fond of topiary animals in the first place. Those things just don’t seem right, but I’m sure someone finds them pleasing or they wouldn’t exist.)

Katy and Little Girl mosey about for a bit, admiring the prettiness but still not convinced that the Bull-Heads won’t come after them with more meanness and a possible lawsuit. Then they come across a handsome man on a steed (or maybe it’s a unicorn, there’s something horn-like going on with the horse’s head), with the man in a nice Prince Charming outfit.  He hops off the uni-horse, Katy steps forward in a slightly-lusty manner, and they approach each other like it’s the final scene in a Hallmark movie.

Then the camera shows us that Prince Charming is crossing his fingers behind his back, so we instantly know he’s up to no good. Somehow Katy senses his deception (possibly because Little Girl makes a horrid little face that normally indicates gastrointestinal discomfort), so she hauls off and punches Charming so that he flies across the clearing and crashes through a section of the garden that the prop people apparently didn’t fortify very well. Katy celebrates her victory with a short solo, complete with more hand choreography.

Then the girls grab hands and race to a conveniently heart-shaped opening in a wall of foliage, which allows them to see a glowing door in the distance that probably leads to safety and happiness. (Or it might lead to a nuclear power plant leaking radiation. If you see the ghost of Karen Silkwood float by, scratching at her skin, you better head the other way.) But it’s all good, and the girls are finally free.

Just before they part ways, which they have to do because the shoot is almost over and they both have other projects lined up, Little Girl puts something in Katy’s hand and then skips her way down a typical residential street to her bicycle parked at the curb, a vehicle which has apparently been patiently waiting for his petite mistress while she went to go play Dungeons and Dragons and do that thing with her foot. Little Girl waves, then pedals away, and we can see that the vanity license plate on the bike says “Katheryn”.

Awwww.

Katy, now alone, opens her hand, and as a sparkly butterfly takes off, we transition back to Katy’s dressing room, where Katy briefly watches the butterfly soar as she sits there in another candy-based outfit, briefly reflecting on the dreams that become real and the dreams that don’t. Then she grabs her wireless microphone, heads out the door, climbs onto the lift that raises her to stage level,  and marches out into yet another concert, bolstered by the memories of little girls making wishes on pretty butterflies…

 

Click here to Watch this Video on YouTube.

Originally published on 11/01/12, revised and updated with extra flair for this post.

 

Nuns and Guns: Lady Gaga – “Alejandro”

Lady Gaga Alejandro

 

  Preliminary bit wherein I absolve myself of any blame for what’s about to follow: We’re talking Lady Gaga, here, not Charlotte Church, so things in this video get a bit eye-opening. It’s also a very long video, so Lady Gaga can throw in lots of artsy stuff that may not make sense but is certainly interesting. So, if you’re not a fan of The Lady or can’t sit still for longer than four minutes you might want to skip this one and go check the lint in the dryer.

  Still with me? Great. Here we go…

We start out with a giant “GAGA” logo, because she may not want us to call her name, but she damn sure wants us to remember it. Then we immediately cut to a very tired military-type man who is wearing little more than fishnet stockings as he lounges on some dreary patio. Yes, it took Lady Gaga exactly two seconds to get twisted.

Then the camera starts panning around, and we learn that there are lots of tired military people sitting around at what might be a bar, where no one knows your name and everyone is on medication. This could be because there aren’t any drinks on the table and the music hasn’t started yet. Who knows. We still have over 8 minutes of video for the producers to explain all this.

Cut to some shadowy figures standing on what looks like a ramp that probably leads to an underground laboratory where anti-social scientists named Hans conduct experiments involving plutonium and death. These figures are apparently practicing a dance routine where the theme appears to be stomping while carrying odd symbols and looking angry.

Oh good, they turned the lights up a bit and we can see that the dancers are wearing jock straps that appear to be vaguely Sumo-wrestling in nature. (So far they haven’t spent a lot of money on the costume budget for this production.) The dancers all have the same bowl-cut hairdo for some reason, probably because Lady Gaga was going for that “we might be poor but we have rhythm” look. The dancers march their way down the ramp so that Hans can begin dissecting them.

Finally, we have a close-up of Gaga herself, sporting a hairstyle that has been inspired by the handles on wicker baskets. She’s looking through some very funky binoculars, trying to determine where the sad music is coming from that has started to play. This is followed by someone carrying what looks like a human heart on a black satin pillow, and then a shot of Lady Gaga messing around with her mouth. Maybe she’s got some spinach caught in her teeth.

Quick scene, possibly back at the boring bar where they still aren’t serving any drinks. It’s snowing outside, and people are sad, or at least lethargic, so somebody probably died. Then we’re out in the snow, and yep, there’s been a death. People are carrying a casket, while Lady leads the way, lugging that heart on a pillow while violins play. Did Ingmar Bergman direct this?

We switch to a man wearing leather panties and holding a gun in his crotch. It’s a pretty gun. He’s also wearing a strange helmet that doesn’t seem to fit, and there are very large holes in the wall behind him, which is letting in some of the snow. Perhaps he should call Maintenance.

Gaga again, with a severe blonde hairdo that is not kind to her facial bone structure. She appears to be wearing a modified veil, so perhaps she is familiar with the person in the casket. (Maybe they took an aerobics class together one time?) But this doesn’t explain why she’s acting like Eva Peron on some balcony, back when the Argentinians still liked her, and before they made that Broadway show and then the movie where we finally learned that Madonna can actually act as well as get pregnant via a personal trainer.

We head back to Wicker Basket Gaga, still screwing around with the pointless binoculars while she smokes a cigarette, watching the jock-strap dancers through a conveniently large but still gloomy window. The dancers apparently learned some new moves while underground, so their stomping about is less crude, but we still don’t know what happened to the rest of their clothes.

Oh look, Lady Gaga is able to flip just one lens of the binoculars away from her tragically-pale face so we can watch her not emote while she sings. That’s why she wanted those things. She doesn’t need to see anything, she just wanted a cool accessory that she can manipulate to the beat of the song. So she does that for a while as the dancers continue showing off their improved choreography, including the ability to arch their backs so that their crotches bulge even more.

And those dancers have some stamina, because they frolic around for quite some time. They seem to be really fond of doing this group-hug thing where they spin in a circle while war-like scenes flash on a screen that some crew person has helpfully erected in the back of the soundstage. Then the dancers pair off and things get a little heated, with some grunting and such, and for a moment I don’t care if Alejandro ever shows up.

Now we have Lady Gaga in a red-leather nun’s habit, lying on a bed and being overly affectionate with her rosary. This very personal time is inter-cut with scenes taking place in some type of institutional barracks, where people are either having naughty relations or emotional breakdowns while they writhe on metal cots. Whips and high heels are major design elements, along with some line dancing where Gaga joins the Jock-Ettes for some synchronized footwork. (And who spread the kitty litter all over the floor?)

This goes on for a while as well (hey, they’ve still got 4 minutes to kill), with lots more simulated and symbolic sexual slap and tickle, where it’s clear that gender and manners are completely unimportant. (They definitely won’t be showing clips of this part on the morning talk shows. Well, maybe on the FX channel.)

Things finally cool off a bit, with the Jock-Ettes doing some comparatively mundane hand movements, lying on their backs while Lady Gaga stands in the middle, wearing something Greta Garbo would wear just before she took her own life in a tragic 1930’s movie.

Scratch that. We get a closer look at the outfit, and Greta would never go near this, even after she became a recluse and started drinking. This close-up comes courtesy of the Bowl-Cut Boys, as they lift a spread-eagled Lady Gaga over their heads, and we learn that there’s an inverted red cross in Gaga’s business section. The boys continually thrust Gaga at the overheard camera to Make. Sure. We. Can. SEE IT. This wholesome scene is followed by one where Gaga crams her beloved rosary into her mouth.

At this point, I’m sure the switchboard at the Vatican is very busy. I’m assuming that Lady Gaga won’t be getting a contract with Pepsi.

Back to the spread-eagled Gaga in case you missed anything the first time. Yep, that cross is still waving at us from Gaga’s undulating undercarriage. Hey there, how ya doin?

Suddenly we have Lady Gaga in another outfit, this one with shades of Liza Minnelli in “Cabaret”, minus Joel Grey or any of the startling eye shadow. She does a few solo dance steps, and then the Jock-Ettes are back, parading down the stage in pairs, wearing leather jackets while Lady does some more dance steps that make it clear she’s hoping for a remake of “Saturday Night Fever”.

Then Gaga and the Jock-Ettes switch over to the laboratory ramp, where Lady has decided to one-up Madonna by wearing a bustier made out of machine guns. She’s very proud of this piece of couture, fondling the gun barrels as she shimmies. Meanwhile, the Jock-Ettes twirl, leap and touch their faces dramatically. How they can still have so much energy is beyond me, after that massive orgy mass they just celebrated a few scenes ago. They must be drinking that fancy new vitamin water that Jennifer Aniston wants me to buy. (Updating shopping list, click and save.)

Now we’re jump-cutting all over hell, with brief bits of everything we’ve seen, mixed in with new material that fully expresses Lady Gaga’s art. (Or at least underscores the possibility that someone on the production team didn’t refill his prescriptions.) The metal cots are still filled with angsty couples, the Jock-Ettes are still flinging Gaga through the air, and the amorous nun is still lying on her bed, belching contentedly after eating the rosary.

Wait a minute. We are suddenly getting shots of some non-bowl-cut guy standing around, looking forlorn but still trendy in his leather outfit. Is that Alejandro? Dude, where have you been? That bitch has been calling your name for the last half hour.

We are treated to more jump-cutting and sexual hi-jinks involving uncomfortable positions. This time through there’s new business with the Jock-Ettes shoving Sacrilege Gaga all over some Goth playground. (I guess they found out she had a better dressing room.) To reinforce her A-List status, Lady Gaga straddles one of them, and then rips off her top. The chorus boys do such a dismal job of pretending to be interested in her wares that the director quickly orders them to go back to dancing in minimalist attire and looking pretty.

Final shot has Gun-Crotch Boy and Nun-Jandro on a bed, with wires coming down making them look like marionettes. Oh? So is Lady Gaga saying that she didn’t have all this sex of her own free will, that other people were making her do it? (I didn’t know she was a Republican Senator. Hmm.) The camera zooms in on the face of Nun Gaga and the film begins to melt, making Senator Gaga briefly look like something that took possession of little Linda Blair and made her pee on the carpet during an otherwise festive dinner party.

 

Click here to watch this video on YouTube.

Originally published on 06/25/10, revised and updated with extra flair for this post.

 

Finding Jesus at Burning Man: Kesha – “Your Love Is My Drug”

Kesha Your Love Is My Drug

 

Wow, they sure didn’t spend any money on this thing.

Anyway, we start out with some close-up shots of Kesha’s various body parts because she’s all about “her art” and isn’t a tramp at all. She’s waking up way out in the desert some place, because this is where you have to live when people get a little tired of hearing you on the radio. She’s apparently using some guy’s stomach as a pillow as she sleeps off the shame of whatever they might have just finished doing. Or maybe she just tripped and fell on a homeless person because, well, it seems like something she might do.

Kesha awakens and/or realizes that her drink is empty, and she takes a closer look at the guy, startled to discover that he’s wearing a nasty headband, which is a sure sign of trouble. She leaps to her feet and runs away across the sand. I’m guessing she doesn’t remember his name and she’s trying to avoid any social awkwardness. (Wait a minute. Maybe it’s just me, but that homeless guy seems to have a Jesus flair to him. What kind of story are we trying to tell here?)

Next thing you know, Kesha is riding an elephant and wearing a bonnet that she stole from the Statue of Liberty. That’s a rather vague concept that the director might have misjudged, so we cut to a tight shot on Kesha’s boots as she staggers through the desert. The heat makes her burst into song (“Maybe I’m ready for some rehab.” Ya think?), and she waves her arms like she really wanted to be in the high-school flag corps but things got in her way, like not actually going to high school.

Oh wait, there she is on the elephant again, followed by her sporting a tiger mask and assuming a squat-like position. (She likes zoos? She likes to hunt game? She’s practicing for Burning Man?) Then we have several shots of her Native American jewelry as she twirls around and can’t keep still, singing about her inability to stop banging her head against the wall. I’m not a physician or a neurologist, but the head-banging is probably not advisable. There are other hobbies you can pursue. Check out Pinterest.

Now she seems to have made up with the Pillow Jesus Man, because he’s back in the picture and they hold hands while a fan blows somewhere off to the side. More animal references, wild arm movements, and clunky jewelry that has GOT to be on her nerves by now. She weighs about 40 pounds. How is she managing to stay on her feet with all the wind and accessories?

Then they start screwing around with a kaleidoscope or something, because we suddenly have six refracted images of Kesha as she prances around in the sand. This unnerves me somewhat, because I don’t think the world needs six of her. But she keeps dancing anyway, delighting in the concept of an army of her body parts conquering the planet. This is probably the same vision that Ayn Rand had as she began writing her self-absorbed novels.

Elephant again.

Oh, now she and Jesus are in a boat. She’s being really rude and jumping around while he tries to row them back to the Garden of Eden or maybe a place where bushes burn. Then again, I guess it doesn’t really matter how obnoxious she’s being, because there’s not any water and they aren’t actually moving. Kesha makes a reference to a “lovesick crackhead” and I officially quit trying to determine the plot.

Good move on my part, because they’re still in the boat, but now some unregulated artist is messing around with the film, using crayons to create water and buoys and giant crabs. Kesha reacts to the added décor by… I don’t what she’s doing. Pointing is involved, and wiggling around in Daisy Dukes. Then a giant cartoon wave covers up the boat, and I’m hoping the video is over so I can go somewhere quiet and ponder the life choices I have made that led me to reviewing this video.

Nope, it’s not over. Now we’re in an underwater cartoon world, where the fish have human faces and they are singing. (Well, that just ruined Sea World for me.) The oddities continue, with a nearly naked man covering his harmonica with an absurdly-long beard, carnivorous fish that turn into mermaids, and a general theme that life in the ocean can kill you. That’s nice. Make the budding youth of the world fear aquatic settings, assuming that their short attention spans can encompass such a concept. Thanks, Kesha.

And we’re back in the desert, where Kesha is struggling to escape some evil cargo netting that she apparently got tangled in during the chorus. She flails a bit, but she’s really not trying that hard and I don’t feel especially sorry for her. Besides, doesn’t she have an assistant that can just cut that damn thing off of her? Girl, where is your entourage when you need them? I guess even rock stars have trouble with the help.

Then we start jumping around, with more shots of Kesha lamely trying to fight off the Net of Death (twirling and trying to fly seem to be her signature defense moves), Kesha and Jesus standing on some big rocks and waiting for additional Commandments that might possibly be delivered, and the realization that Kesha has a fondness for sand being smeared all over her body, especially when her cheek is accented by turquoise streaks. I’ll just assume that she has different life goals than I do.

As Kesha sings about having a slumber party in her basement (just say no, kids), we are treated to images of Kesha in an outfit splattered with day-glo paint, cavorting with more boulders and an unexplained snake. (Is this a reference to music company executives? Discuss amongst yourselves.) Whatever her intentions, Kesha apparently feels very sultry when she’s flopping around under a black light, and she does her best to portray a streetwalker in an excised scene from the old-school movie Tron. (Two points for the bold neon line running directly into her lower cleavage. Nothing says class like painting a landing strip on your body.)

We head back to the cartoon world, with animals mutating and a giant billboard to remind us what the name of this song is. The graphics and imagery hint of a tribute to Sergeant Pepper and/or the Beatles, but really, how is Kesha going to get that reference? (She was only born about 20 minutes ago, decades after the Beatles owned the world with trippy, thoughtful compositions.) This montage is clearly the work of an art director with OCD, a fondness for hemp, and a membership in the AARP.

Now it’s night time in the desert, and Kesha has settled down a little bit. She and Jesus are making S’mores at a campfire, and perhaps writing a few things down in case Moses has some extra tablets. Kesha is still really happy about her jewelry, her ability to wave her arms for no apparent reason, and the fact that she can make whatever kind of video she wants because she is trending on Twitter.

The song and the video wind down with Kesha doing that weird baby talk business at the end. (“I like your beard.” Honey, that’s not a beard. That’s somebody being lazy and not shaving for a few days.) Jesus is watching her suspiciously and probably wondering why this disciple has proven to be so challenging and flirty. Kesha doesn’t care. (Does Jesus have any platinum singles? I don’t think so. Over you and moving on.) So she laughs a lot and plays with her hair, because she’s still young and doesn’t understand things like consequences, mortality, and an agent that really knows what he’s doing.

Final shot is of Kesha on that damn elephant, sporting the Statue of Liberty headdress. Give me your tired, your poor, and your teenagers with unearned disposable income. One of those three things is determining the future of the music industry, and that’s the real drug…

 

Click here to watch this video on YouTube.

Originally published on 06/11/10, revised and updated with extra flair for this post.