And to think that 2007’s ‘Girlfriend’ was considered the moment where the rebellious sk8r-grrl façade shattered, no matter how much eyeliner that Avril Lavigne hid behind. In a day and age where information will be on display forever more once it hits the internet, it takes one very special mishap for the culprits to even bother trying to hide it. ‘Hello Kitty’, having had its video removed within hours of its revelation, is one such mishap.
‘Hello Kitty’ is a total mystery, enough so that it might not only be the Japanese lyrics that need to be translated. Listeners are greeted by a collision of girly sleepover stereotypes and naughtiness (ie. not wearing much, pillow fights, and who could live without “OMFG” in their vocabulary?), as Lavigne attempts the impossible – to embody mildly sexy ‘kawaii’ without being terrible nor offensive. Considering how offensively terrible this song it, Lavigne certainly hasn’t succeeded.
Husband Chad Kroeger of Nickelback, who features in the songwriting credits, has done little to help salvage this abomination, as nobody seems quite sure what genre they fancy the most. There is an electronic dance section, with the first ten seconds of Japanese lyrics, engulfed by enough vocal effects, that they could at least have had common courtesy not to do it again for the following three minutes. But no.
There is a sterile ‘pop punk’ section, with emphasis on the ‘pop’ bit, and even a dubstep-style drop during what might be the chorus, but as anything seems to go, no one can be sure. Some might cringe at the very sight of the dreaded D-word, but Lavigne faux stab at d**step might just promote any doubters’ criticism from ‘d**step is the root of all evil’ to ‘at least it wasn’t that peroxide-soaked Canadian chick, having another go at tempting racism accusations, and as the musical equivalent of vomit-inducing strobe lights, should at least have come with some kind of seizure warning’.
Is this mess meant a nod to the chaotic and playful imagery of childish Japanese kawaii? Or “k-k-k-kawaii” as Lavigne puts it? Whatever the incentive behind the pulsing headache embodiment that is ‘Hello Kitty’, the novelty of such a senseless sensory overload, is not nearly as fun as Lavigne had probably imagined.