California Gurls

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"California Gurls"
California Gurls cover.png
Single by Katy Perry featuring Snoop Dogg
from the album Teenage Dream
ReleasedMay 7, 2010 (2010-05-07)
StudioConway Recording Studios, (Hollywood, California)
Katy Perry singles chronology
"If We Ever Meet Again"
"California Gurls"
"Teenage Dream"
Snoop Dogg singles chronology
"That Tree"
"California Gurls"
"It's in the Mornin'"
Music video
"California Gurls ft. Snoop Dogg" on YouTube

"California Gurls" is a song recorded by American singer Katy Perry. It served as the lead single for her third studio album, Teenage Dream (2010). The song features verses from rapper Snoop Dogg. Both artists co-wrote the song with Bonnie McKee and its co-producers Dr. Luke and Max Martin, with additional production from Benny Blanco. According to Perry, "California Gurls" is an answer song to "Empire State of Mind" (2009), by Jay-Z and Alicia Keys. Its midtempo production incorporates disco-pop and funk-pop with influences of new wave and electropop. Its lyrics are an ode to the state of California, in which both Perry and Snoop Dogg were born and raised.

"California Gurls" garnered positive reviews from music critics, with the majority of them labeling it a "summer anthem",[1] as well as complimenting its production and chorus. Originally intended to be sent to mainstream and rhythmic airplay on May 25, 2010, the song debuted on May 7, 2010, after clips from the Teenage Dream album were leaked online. It was subsequently released to iTunes on May 11, 2010 as the album's lead single. The song was a worldwide success, peaking at number-one on the Billboard Hot 100 for six consecutive weeks, giving Perry her second US number-one single in and Snoop Dogg his third. The song also reached number-one in ten other countries, including Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom.

A music video for the song was released on June 15, 2010, and features Perry and her dancers as pieces of a board game, set in the fictional "Candyfornia". Perry has said that the inspiration behind the video was artist Will Cotton, who was also the artistic director of the video. It has been noted that the video is influenced by several other works, including Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, and the board game Candyland. On December 2, 2010, the song received a Grammy nomination for Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals. In 2012, Billboard ranked the song number one on a special The 30 Summer Songs of All Time listing.

Background and composition[edit]

Perry found Snoop Dogg as a rapper with whom to collaborate on "California Gurls" through a search on Wikipedia.

In an interview with HitQuarters, Perry's A&R at the time, Chris Anokute, said that while travelling back from an Oscar after-party Perry texted him to say she did not think the album was finished and that it needed one more song. She said that she wanted to write a song about California girls.[2] During a Rolling Stone photo shoot in April 2010, Perry revealed details about the song, allegedly a response to Jay Z's "Empire State of Mind", she stated:

"It's so great that 'Empire State of Mind' is huge and that everybody has the New York song, but what the fuck? What about LA? What about California? And it's been a minute since we've had a California song and especially from a girl's perspective. We took the references of Prince, which is always a great reference, and we took a lot of the '90s, ... almost that house music, some of those references."[3]

Initially the song was titled "California Girls", but the spelling was changed to "California Gurls" after the passing of Big Star member Alex Chilton as a nod to their song, "September Gurls".[4] After the song was leaked online, Capitol Records decided to release it early, and it was posted on Perry's official website, and the radio date was moved up from May 25, 2010, to May 7, 2010.[5] 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 "California Gurls", browsing West Coast artists before selecting Snoop Dogg.[6] The publishing company for The Beach Boys had allegedly threatened a lawsuit due to Snoop Dogg's line "I wish they could all be California Girls", which they consider to be one of the classic lines in the band's song "California Girls".[7]

"California Gurls" is composed in styles of disco-pop and funk-pop[8][9][10] while bearing influence of new wave music and electropop within its composition.[10][11] According to digital sheet music published at by Sony-ATV Music Publishing, the song is written in the key of F major and the tempo moves at 125 beats per minute over a house beat.[3][dead link][12] Perry's vocal range in the song spans from the lower note of C4 to the higher note of D5.[12] "California Gurls" utilizes multiple synths, drums, funk guitars, and electronic whooshes in its production.[12][13]

Critical reception[edit]

Perry performing "California Gurls" at the California Dreams Tour in 2011.

"California Gurls" received many positive reviews from critics. The song was given five stars from Nick Levine of Digital Spy who commended Perry's "charismatic" vocals on the song as well as its "unstoppable pop chorus".[14] Leah Greenblatt of Entertainment Weekly and Katie Hasty of HitFix called it "the summer jam" of 2010.[15][16] Rob Sheffield of Rolling Stone said that the song sets the tone for Teenage Dream.[17] Chris Richards of The Washington Post praised the song, calling it "fresh" and "fierce". He commended the expertise of the song's arrangement and its "buoyant" chorus. Richards went on to say that "California Gurls" is "an ever-lasting gobstopper of a tune" and that "summertime megahits rarely feel this good".[18] Brian Wilson from American band The Beach Boys commended Perry's vocal on the song and described its melody as "infectious".[19]

Glenn Gamboa of Newsday reviewed the song saying, "'California Gurls' is a fizzy-pop concoction of empty calories, but it sure does stick with you." He went on to note that the craftsmanship of the song was of a high standard.[20] Steve Leftridge of PopMatters called "California Gurls" the radio jam of the summer of 2010 and "the gargantuan singalong fantasy that delivered on the promise built by the disco thump of hits like 'I Kissed a Girl' and 'Hot n Cold'." Leftridge also praised the song's musical composition, lyrical content and its chorus which he said "you know by heart halfway through your first listen."[21] The track was deemed as a highlight on Teenage Dream by Stephen Thomas Erlewine of AllMusic.[22] Michael Cragg of musicOMH praised the song, "First single California Gurls is brilliant, brattish fun, Perry sounding sweet and coy on the verses before that huge chorus erupts".[23] Edna Gundersen of USA Today said that the track is "an effervescent toast to summer fun."[24] Greg Kot of Chicago Tribune, however, dismissed the song as "relentlessly mechanical". He went on to describe Perry's vocal performance on the song as "a series of syllables digitally stitched together."[25] The single received a Grammy nomination for Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals.[26] On May 25, 2012, Billboard ranked the song number one on a special The 30 Summer Songs of All Time listing.[27]

Chart performance[edit]

Perry in a soundcheck at the MuchMusic Video Awards in 2010

"California Gurls" sold 294,000 digital downloads in its first week and debuted at number one on the US Billboard Digital Songs chart. It debuted at number two on the Billboard Hot 100, making it Perry's highest debut on the chart at the time. On the issue dated June 19, 2010, the song reached number one, becoming Perry's second number-one song and Snoop Dogg's third.[28] "California Gurls" 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.[29] It is Perry's third number one on the Pop Songs chart. "California Gurls" became the first song 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.[30] Within seven weeks of its release, "California Gurls" sold over two million downloads, which is the second fastest pace to do so in digital history behind Flo Rida's "Right Round".[31] 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. As of January 2015, the song has sold 5.7 million copies in the US.[32]

Elsewhere, "California Gurls" reached number one in Canada and debuted in the top 20 in Belgium (Flanders and Wallonia), New Zealand and Norway. On May 24, 2010, "California Gurls" debuted on the Australian Singles Chart at number three, and later reached the number-one spot.[33] On the RIANZ Top 10 Radio Airplay Charts, the song came in at number one in New Zealand[34] and also received Gold certification from RIANZ. "California Gurls" 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").[35] After two weeks, the song sold 216,000 copies in the UK.[36] On October 29, 2010, the British Phonographic Industry classified the single as a "platinum record" (meaning it has sold over 600,000 units).[37][38] As of October 2013, the single had sold 780,787 copies in the United Kingdom, becoming Perry's third best-selling single there behind "Firework" and "Roar".[39]

Music video[edit]

Perry in the music video, seen as she engages in a battle with Snoop Dogg

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.[40][41] Filming of the video began on May 14, 2010. It premiered on June 15, 2010.[42][43] Perry explained the use of a candy theme rather than a beach theme for the video, saying, "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!"[44]

In the music video, Perry is a game piece in Candyfornia, a game based in poker and board games. 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 creams, cotton candy, 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 to hold them. Perry moves around, experimenting with objects. She moves through the land, making discoveries and freeing the women. In the chorus, she appears lying down on a cotton candy cloud, naked. Snoop Dogg tries to block her advances in many ways. 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, dressed in a red Wonder Woman like costume, quickly defeats the army with whip cream guns attached to her breasts, after which the stunned king throws down his staff and surrenders. The video ends with "Sugar Daddy" 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.[45][original research?]

Live performances[edit]

Perry performing the song during the Super Bowl XLIX halftime show in February 2015.

Perry performed the song on May 20, 2010, at the CW networks' annual "upfronts" presentation in New York.[46][47] Perry performed the song at the 2010 MTV Movie Awards on June 6, 2010, alongside Snoop Dogg.[48] Perry also performed the song during her guest appearance on the September 25, 2010 episode of Saturday Night Live.[49] Perry performed the song on The GRAMMY Nominations Concert Live! – Countdown to Music's Biggest Night on December 1, 2010. "California Gurls" was included as the encore for her California Dreams Tour. Perry performed California Gurls without Snoop Dogg on the BBC One chat show The Graham Norton Show on June 28, 2010.[50]

On February 1, 2015, Perry was the headliner of Super Bowl XLIX halftime show and "California Gurls" was part of the performance.[51]

Covers, samples, and media usage[edit]

The German cover band The Baseballs covered the song. It is included on their album Strings 'n' Stripes.[52] The Hub has released a promo for the animated series My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. Entitled "Equestria Girls", it is set to the song's melody, with a new set of lyrics written specifically for the show and sung by Shannon Chan-Kent from the perspective of the character Pinkie Pie.[53] A video clip of Cebu Pacific flight attendants performing a pre-flight safety demonstration as a dance routine to this song ended up as a viral YouTube video clip, attracting comment.[54]

The parody song "G33k & G4m3r Girls" by Team Unicorn was released online in September 2010.[55] The music video pays tribute to women who love gaming, manga, and science fiction.[56][57] The video reached 1 million views in its first week online[58] and stirred controversy over its sexy portrayal of geek girls.[59]

Neil Cicierega's 2014 album of mashups, Mouth Silence, features a mashup between "California Gurls" and Kate Bush's song "Cloudbusting" and , called "Orgonon Gurlz". Cicierega has publicly stated that "Cloudbusting" is one of his favorite songs, while "California Gurlz" is his least.

Formats and track listings[edit]

  • Digital download[60]
  1. "California Gurls" (featuring Snoop Dogg) – 3:56
  1. "California Gurls" (featuring Snoop Dogg) – 3:56
  2. "Hot n Cold" (Yelle Remix) – 4:07
  • US digital download – remix EP[62]
  1. "California Gurls" (Armand Van Helden Remix) – 5:48
  2. "California Gurls" (Innerpartysystem Main Mix) – 4:27
  3. "California Gurls" (Manhattan Clique Long Beach Mix) – 7:00
  • UK digital download – remix EP[63]
  1. "California Gurls" (MSTRKRFT Main Mix) – 3:59
  2. "California Gurls" (Innerpartysystem Main Mix)  – 4:27
  3. "California Gurls" (Manhattan Clique Long Beach Mix)  – 7:00



Region Certification Certified units/sales
Australia (ARIA)[131] 6× Platinum 420,000^
Austria (IFPI Austria)[132] Platinum 30,000*
Belgium (BEA)[133] Gold 15,000*
Canada (Music Canada)[134] 4× Platinum 320,000*
Denmark (IFPI Denmark)[135] Gold 15,000^
France (SNEP) 140,000[136]
Germany (BVMI)[137] Platinum 300,000^
Japan (RIAJ)[138] Gold 100,000^
Mexico (AMPROFON)[139] Gold 30,000*
New Zealand (RMNZ)[140] Platinum 15,000*
Sweden (GLF)[141] Platinum 40,000^
Switzerland (IFPI Switzerland)[142] Platinum 30,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[143] Platinum 780,787[39]
United States (RIAA)[145] 8× Platinum 5,800,000[144]

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone

Release history[edit]

Country Date Format
Worldwide May 7, 2010[5][146] Radio Premiere
Worldwide May 11, 2010[147][148] Digital download
United States May 25, 2010[149] Top 40/Mainstream and Rhythmic radio
Germany June 11, 2010[150] CD single
United Kingdom June 20, 2010[151] Digital Download
June 21, 2010[152] CD single, 7"
Worldwide July 16, 2010[153] Digital Remixes EP

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