The official video for Katy Perry's "Birthday" dropped today and let's not fool around: it is an abomination. Why can't she stop making awful music videos? Is it time for tough love and hard truths?
The "Birthday" video is one of those high-concept productions where Katy Perry crashes five different "real life" birthday parties (you know, like the way Taylor Swift crashes bridal showers). Only she's not Katy Perry, she's one of five characters: an elderly stripper, a Jewish comedian, an animal trainer, a clown, and a princess. It's supposed to be funny – because when aren't cultural stereotypes hilarious? – but it ends up just being really, really dumb. There might be a better word for it than that, but she gives an old man a lap dance, so "dumb" is about all this video deserves.
To add insult to self-inflicted injury, this mess of a video comes out the same day her contemporary (in the broadest sense of the term) Beyoncé is making headlines of a good (albeit complicated) kind. Unlike Beyoncé (and Miley Cyrus and Carrie Underwood), Perry was not included on TIME's 100 most influential people list. And on top of all that, the video tied in with Beyoncé's TIME cover, "Pretty Hurts", was originally intended for Perry to record, but she missed her chance. Yeesh.
What happened to Katy? She conquered the world with Teenage Dream –which had its share of perfectly fine music videos, from the straightforward to the high concept – but everything from Prism has been a disappointment at best or this "Birthday" video at worst.
You know sometimes music videos can just be the person who sings the song singing the song— Richard Lawson (@rilaws) April 24, 2014
Is it just us, or is every video from Prism so far a lighter, dumber version of a video from the Teenage Dream era? The "Roar" video is basically the same as the "California Gurls" video (Katy explores an unfamiliar enchanted land), and today's "Birthday" video uses the same "Katy Perry pretends to not be Katy Perry" gag as the video for "Last Friday Night", only without Kenny G. She's doing the same sorts of things, only this time as spiritless retreads. And then there is the video for "Dark Horse," which vomits Illuminati references while making absolutely zero sense.
Katy, talk to your creative department. These music videos keep getting worse, and you're starting to make headlines for the wrong reasons. And that post-Russell Brand sympathy grace period appears to be expiring, if Twitter is any indication (it always is). There's still time to save Dream-era Katy, the entertaining pop star who had a veritable litter of number one hits. But if you keep up with this "Hey, what if I played an old lady stripper!" schtick, people will be rolling their eyes more than they're singing along. So maybe tone down the next video, just a tad. Unless, of course, you have an ulterior motive:
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to firstname.lastname@example.org.