No song in 2008 annoyed as many people as Katy Perry's "I Kissed a Girl." Conservatives were indignant at the song's shock value; gay rights activists derided it as a titillating and unenlightened piece of lesbian tourism; indie music snobs just could not escape it. It was like "Since U Been Gone" multiplied by the Britney-Madonna MTV Awards smooch, only more insidious because tween girls everywhere set it as their ringtones.
In actuality, "I Kissed a Girl" is a harmless, benign pop song; it's really only shocking if you haven't been paying any attention to pop culture. It comes after years of Ellen, The L Word, and late-night Girls Gone Wild commercials. It's not even original: There was a hit of the same name by Jill Sobule back in 1995. Considering this, Perry's "I Kissed a Girl" is behind the curve, and despite all the ruffled right-wing feathers, the song has probably done more for sales of cherry-flavored ChapStick than the advancement of gay rights. It's more Divinyls than Ani DiFranco.
Gay rights advocates shouldn't be bothered by it either. Think about it: Where will Katy Perry be in 30 years? To be sure, she will still be singing "I Kissed a Girl" on a blue-plate circuit somewhere. But to whom? That's right: hordes of gay, gay men. Perry's brassy, sassy personality has less in common with the pop sirens of yesteryear and more with drag queens' interpretation of them.
So who, then, remains offended? Ah, yes: the holier-than-thou indie snob, whose musical taste is more important than all the family values and equal rights in the world. To these cross-armed elite, Katy Perry is the antithesis of all that is good and just—she's a major label pop tart with no indie credibility, a poor American imitation of the wretched Lily Allen. But keep in mind that both "I Kissed a Girl" and "Hot N Cold" have some seriously inescapable melodies. Just give the snobs enough time: Soon enough, they'll be drunkenly screeching Katy Perry at a karaoke night near you.