I am not exactly a California person. I am so pale, I am darn near translucent. I think Pink's is overrated. And I don't like shopping at Vons. I am proudly, almost stubbornly New York: black clothes, black coffee, black horn-rimmed glasses, subterranean in nearly every conceivable way. And yet, I find myself positively enamored with Katy Perry's sunny, sex-tastic "California Gurls" — like, singing "bikinis on top!" to myself on the subway — for reasons I cannot even begin to comprehend.
I suspect it has something to do with persistence, because of all the songs released in recent months, "Gurls" is certainly the most tireless. Tenaciously marketed since minute one as the official summer jam of 2010 (or, as Perry put it, "SUMMER STARTS NOW!") and specifically designed to serve both a key demographic (hot girls) and an entire geographic region (the state of California and its more than 34 million inhabitants), "Gurls" is downright diabolical in its purpose: "Here is a song about beaches and bikinis," it says. "You will listen to it 100,000 times because you like both of those things. Or you are from California." It also can't hurt that the song was crafted by Dr. Luke, the mastermind behind other pop anthems like Kelly Clarkson's "Since U Been Gone," Ke$ha's "Tik Tok" and Perry's own "I Kissed a Girl."
Make no mistake about it, this is precision-guided pop. And just to keep things on point, Perry has tirelessly promoted it while wearing an electric-blue wig and bedazzled bikini top. In recent weeks, Capitol Records has started throwing beach-themed listening parties to hype the single and the accompanying album, Teenage Dream. The "California Gurls" video — which premiered Tuesday — mixes things up a bit by not including a single grain of sand (I tend to think Snoop is buried in powdered sugar at the end of the clip), but boy, does it have a lot of bikinis, and I'll be damned if it isn't the most gleefully lightweight thing in recent memory. At this point, Perry and her team at Capitol are so determined, obstinate and on message that they're practically the Bush White House of popular music. No one strays. Nothing is left to chance. It truly is something to behold.
And, really, it appears to be working. "California Gurls" is currently the #1 song on the Billboard Hot 100, making it all the way to the top in just four short weeks. It's a radio staple. The video is already much discussed. And they've even managed to win me over, which is a feat in and of itself. Because, while it's certainly fun, breezy and — yes, I'll admit it — a bit catchy, "Gurls" isn't even Katy Perry's best single (I'll vote for "Hot N Cold"). It's just the most dogged. Expertly planned, precisely marketed and brilliantly deployed, its success is a testament to the power of persistence, to the point where it's even got me thinking about moving out West.
What can I say? Even I'm not immune to its charms; it just took several thousand listens to break me. And, yes, I suppose that's a good thing. After all, even the most curdled and curmudgeonly of New Yorkers needs to have their popsicle melted every once in a while.
Questions? Concerns? Hit me up at BTTS@MTVStaff.com.