"California Gurls" is a song written by Katy Perry, Bonnie McKee, Calvin Broadus, Max Martin, and Dr. Luke for Perry's sophomore mainstream album, Teenage Dream. It was released as the lead single on May 7, 2010. Snoop Dogg is also featured on the song by contributing an intro and a rap verse. The song was originally intended to be sent to radio on May 25, 2010, however, after clips from Perry's new album were leaked online, her label rushed released the song to radio on May 7, 2010. They also began to stream the song on her website. It was subsequently released to iTunes on May 11, 2010. It was announced on June 9, 2010 on Capitol Records' website that the song had broken the record for more than 13,000 spins in one week on both BDS and Mediabase charts with 13,167 spins, which adds up to 13 times per day. The song peaked at number one on the Billboard Hot 100 for six consecutive weeks, giving Perry her second US number-one single and Snoop Dogg his third. The song reached number one in over 10 countries, including United States, UK, Canada, Australia, Scotland, Ireland, and New Zealand. This song is registered on Perry's ASCAP and BMI twice. Once as the album version and again as the "(Non Rap Version)".
Recording process and inspiration
Katy Perry stated during a Rolling Stone photoshoot that the song is meant to be a response to Jay Z and Alicia Key's "Empire State of Mind":
|“||It's so great that "Empire State of Mind" is huge and that everyone has the New York song, but what the fuck? What about LA? What about California? It's been a minute since we had a California song and especially from a girl's perspective. We took the references of Prince, which is always a great reference, and some of the '90s, almost house music references.||”|
The inspiration of the song came to Katy Perry while she was at a party. "Everybody was holding their drinks in the air and dancing, and I thought, ‘We’re not in New York, we’re in Los Angeles! What about California? What about all the homies, the gin and juice, the swaying palm trees, the sun-kissed skin 24-7? So, I decided that we needed to make a response. I want people to want to book a ticket to California the first time they hear it!"
Initially the song was titled "California Girls", but Perry changed the spelling to "California Gurls" at the request of her manager in tribute to Big Star, which had recently lost one of its members, as a reference to their song "September Gurls" and also so that it wouldn't be confused with the surf classic by the Beach Boys. After the song was leaked online, Capitol Records decided to release it early, and posted it on Perry's site. Next to that, the radio date was moved up from May 25, 2010, to the 7th. The artwork was also released, featuring Perry laying out on the beach sand with a bejeweled bikini.
Perry used Wikipedia to research which rapper she wanted to collaborate with for this track, browsing West Coast artists before selecting Snoop Dogg. Perry decided to include Snoop Dogg in the song because "We thought it would sound so cool and give the song another dimension. Snoop is as West Coast as it gets." She hoped the reference to gin and juice would attract his attention. The Beach Boys have allegedly threatened a lawsuit due to Snoop Dog's line "I wish they could all be California Girls", which they consider to be one of their classic lines. When the album was released, the line was removed from the song.
The song sold 294,000 digital downloads in its first week and debuted at number one on the Billboard Digital Songs chart. It debuted at number two on the Billboard Hot 100, making it Perry's highest debut on the chart since 2008 with her debut single "I Kissed a Girl". On the issue dated June 19, 2010, the song reached number one, becoming Perry's second number-one song and Snoop Dogg's third. The song became the first single by an artist signed to Capitol Records in nearly 43 years to ascend to the number-one spot on the Billboard Hot 100 in its fourth week since Bobbie Gentry's single "Ode to Billie Joe" reached the top after four weeks on the chart. It is Perry's third number one on the Pop Songs chart. The song became the first to top the 300,000 mark in digital sales more than once in 2010 with 318,000 and 359,000 copies sold in the first and second week of June, respectively. Within seven weeks of its release, it sold over two million downloads, which is the second fastest pace to do so in digital history behind Flo Rida's "Right Round". It debuted at number 31 on the Billboard Radio Songs chart and in the July 10, 2010, issue it reached number one on the magazine's Hot Dance Airplay chart, giving Perry her second number-one single on that chart
Elsewhere, the song reached number one in Canada and debuted in the top 20 in Belgium (Flanders and Wallonia), New Zealand and Norway. On May 24, 2010, it debuted on the Australian Singles Chart at number three, and later reached the number-one spot. On the RIANZ Top 10 Radio Airplay Charts, the song came in at number one in New Zealand and also received Gold certification from RIANZ. The song entered the UK Singles Chart on June 27, 2010, at number one, becoming her second chart topper in the country. The single sold 123,607 copies in the UK in its first week (the second highest number in 2010 after the Helping Haiti charity single "Everybody Hurts"). After two weeks, the song sold 216,000 copies in the UK. On October 29, 2010, the British Phonographic Industry classifed the single as a "platinum record" (meaning it has sold over 600,000 units).
This song has been performed live at several functions and events, including the 2010 MTV Movie Awards and the 2010 MuchMusic Video Awards. The live performances, according to Katy, are going to be "edible". She always performs the song with her blue wig.
When Snoop Dogg isn't available for performance, Katy Perry performs the song without his rap verse in the bridge and instead has an instrumental play. She also performs the "California" lines at the last chorus with an auto-tuned mic. The bridge corrects a problem that was present in her early songs when sung live, she tends to sing her songs with so much passion that she barely avoids running out of breath and doesn't allow herself enough time to swallow her saliva, which is an artistic choice that gives the song an intimate, personal feel but in songs without an instrumental bridge it will eventually sound, as one reviewer described it, "slushy".
Her live versions have inspired others who cover her song, even if they do "their own" version (relating it to their own home state, city or nation) to wear a blue wig for the performance.
The music video for "California Gurls" first premiered on MTV.com on June 16, 2010 at noon EST. It premiered on MTV, VH1, MTV TR3s, LOGO and Teen Nick the same day at 8pm EST/PST. Katy Perry revealed a 30-second teaser of the video during the 2010 MTV Movie Awards pre-show and it later surfaced the Internet. The video was directed by Matthew Cullen.
The video was directed by Mathew Cullen and was inspired by the work of Will Cotton, who was also the Artistic Director of the video. The video premiered on June 15, 2010. Filming of the video began on May 14, 2010. While being interviewed by MTV, Perry explained why the main idea behind the video had to do with candy, rather than incorporating a beach theme, "It's definitely something to watch when you have the munchies. ... It's all edible. We named it 'Candyfornia' instead of 'California', so it's a different world," she said. "It's not just like, 'Oh, let's go to the beach and throw a party and then shoot a music video!' It's more like, 'Let's put us California Gurls in a whole different world!
The music video opens to Snoop Dogg in a candy thrown, playing a game called Candyfornia, based on poker and board games, where Perry is a game piece. The settings are inspired in part by Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and the board game Candy Land, with much of the set decorated with cupcakes, ice cream cones, candy floss and lollipops. Snoop Dogg appears in the video as a king named "Sugar Daddy" that is holding several young women (Queens of Candyfornia) captive throughout the game, using candy related devices such as candy wrappers, gum bubbles and blobs of Jell-O to hold them. Katy Perry moves through the land, making discoveries and freeing the women, passing through locations such as candy forests, chocolate rivers and a Gingerbread Man's house. Parts of the scenes are intercut with a nude Perry singing while lounging in a cloud made entirely of cotton candy. When all the women are free, Perry leads them in a dance on the beach. Seeing the women freed, "Sugar Daddy" becomes enraged, marching on the women's' position with an army of gummy bears. Perry quickly defeats the army with whip cream guns attached to her bra, after which the stunned king throws down his staff and surrenders. Later, we see Perry in a blue wig and dot candy dress in the middle of a party on the candy beach with the California Girls and Snoop Dogg. The video ends with Snoop Dogg buried up to his neck in the sand by the women, nonetheless admiring their beauty and (in a nod to the Beach Boys song) wishing that women everywhere could be California girls. Various California landmarks appear in the video, such as the Hollywood Walk of Fame, the Hollywood Sign and some West Coast beaches which were all made out of confectionery.
The Making Of
On July 6, 2010 a 5-minute teaser called "The Making of California Gurls" was uploaded to YouTube. A week later a full-30 minute version of the video was released on MTV.com and MTV HITS.
- Teenage Dream Booklet
- ASCAP "California Gurls"
- ASCAP "California Gurls (Non Rap Version)"
- BMI | Repertoire "California Gurls"
- BMI | Repertoire "California Gurls (Non Rap Version)"