Video Review

I Kissed a Zebra and I Liked It: Katy Perry – “Hot N Cold”

Note: It’s been a while since I’ve shared one of my music video reviews, and while I realize that these things are not everyone’s cup of tea, they still make me happy. Enjoy.

We find ourselves at a church wedding, where Katy is about to get married to someone that we have never seen before, so our investment is minimal at this point. (For the record, her near-future spouse appears to be about 12 years old, so there might be some issues here that have been swept under the anointed rug.) The music hasn’t started yet, so we’re not yet sure if this is supposed to be an artsy sequence or if someone forgot to turn the sound on. But one of the bridesmaids is a drag queen, so I’m thinking things will perk up in a bit.

Looking innocent and glowing, Katie and her mascara-doused eyes say “I do”. Then it’s time for her beau (whose name is Alexander, which is probably the least important detail in the whole story) to make his own commitment. Alexander and his adolescent skin pause for a very long time, eyes furtive and throat gulping. (We get reaction shots of concerned people around the church, eyebrows raised and mouths gaping. Even the little flower girl is looking at him like, dude, we just practiced this last night, before all the big people got drunk while I had to go stay with my one aunt who has too many cats.)

When it becomes clear that he’s having second thoughts (which might be the first time that he’s ever had more than one thought), the music finally kicks in and the whole church starts to boogie as Katy launches into her accusatory song. (This is a perfect reflection of the modern generation, turning an uncomfortable moment into yet another opportunity to perform a line dance instead of working through the problem.) Katy, who should be emotionally devastated, has no problem dissing the scumbag who was her true beloved just two minutes ago, warbling and hand-gesturing her way through the first part of the song.

As we get to the chorus, Alexander-Boy makes a break for it and runs down the aisle, not so much that he’s afraid of Katy but more that he wants to get away from old people trying to break dance. Since Katy clearly isn’t finished with her song, she has no choice but to chase after him, dashing out the front door of the church in her oddly-athletic wedding dress and running down the sidewalk. Since this is Hollywood, where ill-advised marriage ceremonies take place all the time, the pedestrians on the street ignore the commotion and keep searching for the sushi restaurant which promises to be trendy for at least two more days.

As Katy and the giant bow she is wearing clatters along behind him, Alexander rounds a corner and slams into a man dressed as a hot dog. I don’t know what message was intended by this little mishap, but I’m glad it happened. People dressed as food are creepy, and they should be knocked to the ground whenever possible. (Two wafer-thin D-list actresses attempt to assist the Downward-Facing Dog in his predicament, which is probably not the first time they’ve handled a strange wiener on a public thoroughfare.)

Katy realizes she’s getting nowhere fast in her pinchy high heels, so she steals a pink bike conveniently left near the violated hot dog man. After a tense moment wherein a stack of watermelons is rudely disturbed, Katy catches up to Alexander as he slips in the back door of some building. (There are no signs to indicate where we are, so either the budget was very low or the prop people were drunk again.)

It turns out that Alexander has stumbled into one of those nightclubs where people inexplicably jump up and down in rapture while a no-name group performs a no-name song that will never be performed again because the entire band will check into the Betty Ford clinic the next morning. The people in the audience immediately grab Alexander and crowd-surf him toward the stage where, in an astonishing example of illogical plotting, Katy is standing there with a microphone, bellowing more of the song. The wedding dress is gone, and she’s now decked out in some retro-80s vinyl and metal gear. We keep getting close-up shots of Katy’s quadruple-belted waist. No idea why.

Understandably, Alexander is not particularly impressed with this development, apparently just wanting to have a quick gin and juice with 500 of his non-closest friends in a bar dripping with regret and bad choices. He struggles to get away from the anonymous hands hoisting him asunder, while Katy continues her mid-grade channeling of Debbie Harry onstage, and he eventually slips out a door that leads to who knows where. (Just like marriage!)

Actually, it seems that the door leads to another round of the chorus, taking place in some studio backlot where they really didn’t spend a lot of time on the set-decorating. Katy has morphed into her wedding dress once again, accompanied by several backup dancers also dressed as trampy brides who found their dresses in the discount section of the Victoria’s Really Bad Secret catalogue. They all have startlingly runny mascara, and they are waving baseball bats to the beat, sure signs of the Apocalypse. While Katy stands in the front seat of an unexplained convertible, the dancers do some crappy moves involving the alarming bats and a lot of finger pointing.

At some obscure cue from the director, Katy and her entourage all converge on Alexander, and Katy sings vehemently in his face while the dancers march in a big circle around the duo, with the bridal nymphets making what looks like rude hand gestures expressing extreme displeasure. Obviously, nobody lost any sleep over whether this choreography made any sense.

In another time-jump within the logic spectrum, all of the slatternly bridal dancers manage to find some matching pink bikes, with everybody straddling one, looking all demonic and wobbly, barreling toward the clueless and clearly typecast Alexander. He runs for his life, or at least for another bar, but he suddenly stops to answer his cell phone. Like any reasonable person would do when being chased by angry estrogen on wheels.

Naturally, it’s Katy on Alex’s phone, because nothing can stop a woman who wants her revenge served as cold as it can be. Apparently home boy has a really good data plan with his provider, because there Katy is in high-res living color, wailing away in her veil-accented bid for attention. (Katy does her best acting here, really loved the hand motion during the “roller coaster” line. As for Alexander’s acting? I’ve seen better emotion from a crock pot. I hope he has a Plan B or a financially-sound trust fund.)

Alexander finally hangs up, because you can’t really protect yourself from she-demons whilst perusing social media. He runs some more, then he turns a corner onto a sound stage that’s supposed to look like, I don’t know, a not-so-classy playground in the Bronx. Katy and all the backup dancers are now sporting the latest street-wear from a designer that nobody will remember tomorrow. To soften this awkward transition, Katy sings the next bit of the lyrics in a sedate whisper fashion, but we’re distracted by the fact that her eyeshadow matches the color of the leftover prop from Burning Man in the background, circa 2003.

Still, all the dancers seem to be having fun in this segment, all gussied up in their vibrant outfits and doing lots of dance moves that seemed important at the time. It’s almost relaxing, after the frenzied intensity of the preceding scenes, like a back-alley yoga class where they serve Pabst Beer instead of chai tea.

Then all hell breaks loose as we start jump-cutting all over the place. The bride dancers show back up, doing something confusing in a V-formation. (And, natch, Katy is right in the middle of that V, waving her arms and bellowing, although it does seem that Katy went to a different dance school than the other girls.) We also have some mess going on with small children hula-hooping like their lives depended on it. (Perhaps a few people on the production staff were having issues finding proper child care and they just threw them in the video to keep them occupied?)

If you don’t blink, you’ll also catch two women doing something on roller skates, but the duo is easy to miss because they’re competing with Katy doing The Running Man in her Daisy Duke bridal gown (or what’s left of it). And in the background of some of the scenes, behind chain link fences, we apparently have people auditioning for the role of Zombie #23 on “The Walking Dead”. It’s as if the director gave up on having any smidge of control on this shoot and went to go have a bagel with a shmear, telling his assistant to call him when people stopped bouncing or there was a pregnancy scare.

The “song” part of this shindig ends with Alexander either tripping over something or being shoved to the ground by an unknown assailant. (Perhaps the Hot Dog Man put out a hit on the Pretty Boy? It wouldn’t be the first time such a thing has happened in Hollywood.) In any case, Alexander ends up flat on his back with his legs spread wide (Also not a first for Hollywood.) As he glances up in confusion, Katy, looking very maniacal in her Mary Lou Retton-on-acid gymnastics outfit, comes walking up with a zebra while a rainbow fills the sky behind her.

Suddenly, we’re back in the church, and Alexander does a dramatic blink, the first time he has actually exhibited any thespian qualities. Looks like the last four minutes were due to a poorly-timed narcolepsy episode, none of it really happening, and everyone in the church is still waiting for Alexander to say his “I do”. Dripping in sweat and forever traumatized by imagery of the Hot Dog Man and the Body Surfing and the Zombie Brides and the hula-hooping and the soul-killing Zebra, Alexander quickly agrees to be bound to this woman through sickness and health and possible sojourns in mental institutions.

The whole church erupts in cheers, especially on the Bride’s side of the matrimonial divide, because Katy is now HIS problem and everyone else can get on with their lives. The happy couple then runs down the “Price Is Right” red-carpeted aisle, Katy waving her neurotic bouquet, on their way to their first therapy session…


Click here to watch this video on YouTube.

Originally published in the Backup Dancers from Hell sites on 09/26/09 and 12/10/15. Minimal changes made for this post. By the way, for those lovely folks out there who are following the current BDFH site and have noticed that I haven’t done squat over there in more than a year, I do plan to fire that mess up again. Then again, I often plan to do a lot of things that never come to fruition, so please don’t make any life changes based on this sketchy pronouncement…


21 replies »

  1. I had never seen that video, so the walk-through narrative by your fine self was most welcomed. Although I admit, I cued up “I Kissed A Girl…” first because I thought THAT was the song being lampooned. Then I saw, on the thoughtfully provided playlist on the screen, the one for “Hot And Cold” and ugly bridal couture and thought BINGO. And the whole thing came together. That bow made me throw up in my mouth…just a little….F-UGLY. But I suppose, having squeezed myself into a pristine white gown at one point (and yes people sniggered. To be fair, I TRIED to get one in oyster or off-white, because even I thought it a bit much for me to wear WHITE to my wedding. But nooooo. It HAD to be white apparently. Something about skin tones and washing out of my ‘color’ (which is whitish tan, I mean WHAT COLOR??) My to be step-daughter bluntly pointed out that I had no business wearing white, to which I said “EVERYONE should wear white, at least once dear. Hope YOU get the chance someday yourself. Then you can wear ecru and be happy..” I think Alexander there had the right idea in the first dream sequence because I KNOW marriage is NOT made in heaven for some of us, but is a trip to the psych ward waiting to happen. Deceased hubby may or may not agree with that..

    Liked by 1 person

    • To be fair, Katy Perry videos are usually a hoot, as she generally has her tongue firmly in cheek, knowing she’s being absurd but just wanting to have some fun. On the flip side, her fan base consists mostly of children, teens and young adults (translation: still emotionally stunted in many ways), so they often confuse “quirky sarcasm” with “oh, I hope my life is THAT exciting when I grow up”.

      For the record, and despite any rumors you may have heard, I never tried to wear a white wedding dress. I have, however, worn a black one. I once went to a party with the intention of channeling the Bride of Frankenstein. I’d like to think it was for a Halloween party, but it was during college, so it was probably just a whim on a random Tuesday in April…

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Too funny! I didn’t recognize the title of the song, but then remembered I do like it, after hearing it. I’d never see the video before, though. Love your play by play, which I always read first. Oh, those hula-hooping girls and your reasoning of why they were in the video, cracked me up! Keep doing these from time to time, I enjoy them! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thanks, Barbara! Yes, those hula-hooping girls were a site to behold. On the one hand, I respected their enthusiasm. On the other hand, I have to admit that it was a bit maniacal. Just where are the children of today leading us?… 😉

    Liked by 1 person

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