Did Chavril make it bad on purpose?

Avril Lavigne GigCity EdmontonIn light of a recent offering of unpleasant pop culture that everyone and their dog is pooping on, a contrarian is duty bound to look on the bright side.

There’s so much hate being directed at Avril Lavigne’s new song and video for “Hello Kitty” that you have to wonder if it’s all part of a diabolical publicity campaign. Why would so many “news” stories come out on the same day proclaiming that this is the worst thing she’s ever done? Coincidence, you say? There is no bad press, they say, and it seems to be working. Hello Kitty is the talk of the town. The latest is that the video has been pulled from YouTube due to complaints of it being racist, which it isn’t. End of story. The video still seemed be there by post time. The joke is right there: Come come kitty kitty. You’re so pretty pretty. This song is so shitty shitty …

But think about it. She and her husband Chad Kroeger had to know that no matter what they come up with, people would hate it. They also had to know that whatever they did, it couldn’t be boring, so in a sense they had complete freedom to do whatever they wanted in order to make as much money as possible. It’s happened before. So maybe the Lavigne-Kroegers set out to make the worst thing they possibly could – on purpose!

There is little doubt Hello Kitty is a very bad song, indeed one of the worst songs ever made in the history of recorded music, if you listen to the chatter. Then again, so was Who Wears Short Shorts? and that was a huge hit for whoever did that.

As a song, Hello Kitty oozes both an ingratiating and grating sense of needy narcissism. Avril sets the scene: “Mom’s not home tonight, so we can roll around, have a pillow fight. Like a major rager OMFG.” In case that’s not clear, she sings, “Let’s all slumber party like a fat kid on a pack of Smarties.” Soon enough, our heroine urges the unseen object of her horniness (probably not the fat kid) into a game of spin the bottle, then truth or dare, which rhymes with “roll around in our underwear.” She adds at one point, “Keep it just between you and me.”

Musically, she tries for hipness in the rock, pop, punk and dance genres while sucking in every one. It co-opts Japanese culture with cheap gimmicks, with the video set in a candy store and a sushi restaurant. There are expressionless back-up dancers who look like Asian refugees from Robert Palmer’s Addicted To Love video, dancing robotically to what sounds like a bubblegum concoction of Avril’s own Girlfriend mixed with Gwen Stefani’s Harajuku Girls mixed with Ke$ha’s Tik Tok mixed with the sound one of those white kittens from the toilet paper commercials might make if it were caught in Calvin Harris’s blender. (No kittens were harmed in the making of the video).

When you really examine this thing in detail, and few older people can make it through more than about two minutes before poking out their eardrums, the song combines so many irksome elements into one pungent package that you have to admire the balls, the sheer genius.

Is it the squeaky voice, the insistent electronic rhythm, the chopped junk on the vocals, the fractured Japanese, the Internet slang? OMFG! Maybe it’s the chorus:

Hello Kitty, hello Kitty
Hello Kitty, you’re so pretty
Hello Kitty, hello Kitty
Hello Kitty, you’re so silly

She actually asks for it at one point, “Someone chuck a cupcake at me!”

Hello Kitty is, in short, bad enough to be good. Moreover, this terrible, terrible song may mark the entry of a new level of irony into the already muddied social discourse. It’s clear the artist and her producers tried very hard to create a song bad enough that people will think it’s bad enough to be good – unless you are an irony deficient child – and that in itself is also so bad that it’s bad enough to be good.

Any other explanation is a step on the road to madness.