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August 4, 2009

I Pissed Off a Girl

Pre-Blog Disclaimer: We really don't want to seem like crazy Katy Perry fangirls by defending her again and again... W'e're actually not huge fans of Katy Perry (although we do kinda like her). We know she's not perfect and we don't deny that there are a lot of issues with her song "I Kissed a Girl". But still, this was something we felt we had to write about...

In a recent interview with The Rumpus, Jill Sobule has called out Katy Perry for allegedly stealing the title and idea for the song "I Kissed a Girl".

For those that don’t know or are very young, I had a song in 1995 called, “I Kissed a Girl.” When Katy Perry’s version came out I started getting tons of inquiries about what I thought. Some folks (and protective friends) were angry, and wondered why she took my title and made it into this kind of ”girls gone wild” thing. Others, including my mother, were excited because they thought I would somehow make some money out of it. Unfortunately you can’t copyright a title… bummer.

As a musician I have always refrained from criticizing another artist. I was, “well, good for her.” It did bug me a little bit, however, when she said she came up with the idea for the title in a dream. In truth, she wrote it with a team of professional writers and was signed by the very same guy that signed me in 1995. I have not mentioned that in interviews as I don’t want to sound bitter or petty… cause, that’s not me.

Hm. Not bitter or petty? Really? Even if she's 100% justified in being upset, can she really claim she's not bitter or petty about it?

Now we won't waste time going over again why we don't really think the song is "Girls Gone Wild"-ish. (Let's just say that we don't and leave it at that). What we will do is point out that Sobule is right, you can't copyright a song title. And truthfully we don't think you should necessarily be able to. There are so many songs with the same (or extremely similar) titles. For example, there were three different songs called "The Power of Love" on the charts in 1985.

The fact that Perry and Sobule allegedly have/had the same management is a little fishy (although we've yet to verify this information - so far we know that Sobule's 1995 album Jill Sobule was released by Lava Records; Perry's Just One of the Boys is from Capitol). Even if it's true, that doesn't automatically mean that Perry herself is a thief.

Sobule's song was definitely memorable for many people within a certain age range, but we'd hardly say that everyone knew it. Perry would've been about 11 when the song was released in 1995. Remember that she grew up in a very conservative environment (both of her parents are pastors) and was not permitted to listen to "secular music" as a child, especially not songs about girls kissing girls. It's very possibly that she had never heard of Sobule's song when she first got the idea for her own "I Kissed a Girl".

It's not really fair to doubt her story about the idea coming to her in a dream. Sobule acts as though she has the market on thoughts of girl-on-girl kissing when really, we're sure a lot of people have thought of that concept before and may have even written a song or two about it. The fact that Perry had "professional writers" (because apparently she just does it as a hobby) help her write the song doesn't mean that they spoon-fed her the idea. In fact, in Perry's "All Access Grammy Special" interview with Katie Couric, she mentioned how originally the record label did not want to include "I Kissed a Girl" on the album.

But okay... maybe Sobule is completely right in her assessment of the situation and not just bitter and petty.

is what really pissed us off:
So here goes, for the first time in an interview: Fuck you Katy Perry, you fucking stupid, maybe “not good for the gays,” title thieving, haven’t heard much else, so not quite sure if you’re talented, fucking little slut.
So she's a slut because she happened to write a song similar to someone else's song from thirteen years ago? Yeah, fuck you Jill Sobule. You might actually have had a valid argument, but by sinking to the level of calling her a slut you lose all credibility. Great to know that you have always refrained from criticizing other artists and now that you're finally going to go on the record dissing someone, you're doing it in such an articulate way!

Sobule should be thanking Perry for indirectly keeping her memory alive. If it wasn't for the new "I Kissed a Girl", we probably wouldn't have remembered that there was an original "I Kissed a Girl" at all. Well, okay, maybe we would have - the video with Fabio was pretty memorable - but we certainly wouldn't be talking or writing about it. We've barely heard her name mentioned in the last ten years. (And who knows how many people inadvertently found her song while searching for Perry's?) We're not saying that Sobule isn't talented or hasn't had a great career since her "I Kissed A Girl" came out, just saying that the random burst of publicity and attention thanks to Perry's song can't have really hurt.

Unfortunately, now Sobule will likely be remembered as just another petty, jealous, competitive, "cat fight" stereotype. If she's mad at Perry for what she perceives as the dumbing-down of her original concept, why express that by resorting to the lowest (and least creative, and most irrelevant) common denominator of insults by calling her a slut?

Maybe Jill Sobule has a valid criticism of Katy Perry, but thanks to the way she chose to express it, now Katy Perry has a valid criticism of her too.

UPDATE: Jill Sobule has responded to the coverage of her comments via Twitter:
someone took my jab at Katy Perry on my rumpus interview seriously. On Rollingstone.com. Gosh. I was joking

if you had read the whole article you would have realized it was tongue in cheek.

Oh my, I am getting hate mail from Katy Perry fans now. Pretty funny. Surprised people took it so serious. What can you do
We're glad Jill's not actually taking the "title theft" as seriously as she first seemed to, but "I was just joking" isn't a get-out-of-jail-free card that lets you say whatever you want. It's still sucky that she chose to call Katy Perry a "fucking little slut", even if it was supposed to be some kind of joke. Also, we did read the whole interview... Note to Jill: jokes are supposed to be funny, so don't quit your day job.

Post-Blog Disclaimer: We have to admit that we first learned of the Jill Sobule interview and her hatin' words about Katy Perry on PerezHilton.com. Yes, it's true. Don't judge us.


Rachel said...

I definitely agree that Sobule's comment was inappropriate, but still think she musically talented in a way that Parry will never be.

ceirdwenfc said...

I just thought I would toss this link in here since I only read this article after reading yours:


Nikki Moreno said...

I hate that I like Katy Perry... but some weird part of me does.

At first when I heard the song "I kissed a girl" I was pissed. My thoughts were "great, another song girls can sing and make out with their hetro girl friends to infront of their boyfriends at the local douche bar so they can get boner points". (I have a thing about girls that make out with chics only to get a rise from guys). And yes, I remember Sobule's song and even thought when I heard Katy's song, "what the hell! This has already been done!"

But then somewhere, somehow how I saw a picture of Katy and was slightly intrigued because of her fashion sense. So I googled her. Turns out she dressed up as Freddie Mercury for a party, wore a half women/half man outfit to a premiere and dammit, I kind of felt bad for thinking she was a twat. Fashion does alot for a person and she's obviously pretty creative and I like that in a woman.

So then I listened to her music, I'll be honest I'm not a fan. I've tried to like it but its just to cookie cutter for me. And its sad because I like her voice but I cant stand the hollywood superficially produced sound of her music.

Since then I've read a few interviews she did, read her blog and realized she really isnt that bad of a person and maybe, just maybe she didnt realized I kissed a girl would piss anyone off.

Hi, my name is Nikki and my guilty pleasure is Katy Perry. Where's the coffee?