Avril Lavigne just dropped her "Hello Kitty" music video, and no one is yelling "arigato!" or "kawaii!" in response. In the video, the Canadian pop star repeatedly shouts the Japanese words for "thanks" and "cute" while surrounded by pink cupcakes, rainbow candy, and bored-looking Japanese back-up dancers.
“I love Hello Kitty. I have an obsession, so I wrote a song called ‘Hello Kitty.’ It’s really fun, it’s about a slumber party and loving the kitty," Lavigne told Yahoo about the song in June. “It has an electronic vibe, which is very different for me, and it’s the first time I’ve experimented in that whole world.”
But maybe she shouldn't have, as critics were quick to slam the song and the video almost immediately upon its release. Here are the top five reasons people are plugging their ears and eyes when faced with "Hello Kitty":
1) The appropriation of Japanese culture
Lavigne's video freely makes use of random Japanese slang and robotic local back-up dancers. It even involves a scene in a sushi restaurant. Entertainment Weekly called it "anti-culture, constructed to purposefully reflect every possible cultural background in a manner that doesn’t really speak to anything particular."
2) The uninspired music
Does "Hello Kitty" remind you of Gwen Stefani's Harajuku Girls from the early 2000s? You're not alone. Billboard's Jason Lipshutz wrote: "'Hello Kitty' is the weakest song on Avril Lavigne's fifth studio album, a grating earworm that squeezes Gwen Stefani's Japan fetishization into an even more unseemly package."
3) The awkward dancing
Lavigne might not be known for her moves, but when it comes to unfortunate dancing, this video takes the cake (no pun intended). There's some shoulder shaking, twirling, and jumping, but not much else. "She doesn’t really dance, but she doesn’t not dance," is how Entertainment Weekly put it.
4) Avril's, er, unique fashion choices
The 29-year-old Napanee native didn't win many points with fans or critics when she got that Skrillex hairdo in 2012. But paired with a pink skirt festooned with pastel-coloured cupcakes? It's eye-catching for all the wrong reasons. The Toronto Star described it as a "cupcake toddler skirt."
5) Concept? What concept?
Very little happens in the "Hello Kitty" video. Lavigne sort of dances in a bedroom and outside and halfheartedly strums a guitar. She visits a candy store and then gets sushi, before waving to no one outside. Billboard sums it up best: "Its laziness is demonstrated in the first 21 seconds, during which Lavigne holds a plush stack of cupcakes, shakes her hips, stares at the cupcakes, bounces her shoulders, and then, when she sings the line 'Someone chuck a cupcake at me' … tosses the fake cupcakes at the camera, her lip movement not matching up to the backing track whatsoever. Cool!"
What do you think of Lavigne's new video? Do you love it? Or is it more like "Goodbye Kitty"?