Katy Perry Versus Jill Sobule on the Kissing of Girls

As you probably know, there are two different and well-known songs called "I Kissed a Girl." One is by upstart 24-year-old pop singer Katy Perry and became a huge hit in the summer of 2008; the other is by veteran singer-songwriter Jill Sobule and was a hit in 1995. Which "I Kissed a Girl" is better? Some of today's keenest intellects — writer Christopher Hitchens, physicist Stephen Hawking, activist Gloria Steinem, and Fall Out Boy bassist-vocalist Pete Wentz — recently engaged in a roundtable discussion of the topic on PBS' Charlie Rose Show. Here's a partial transcript:

Charlie Rose: Chris Hitchens — Katy or Jill?

Christopher Hitchens: Well, Charlie, as you know, I am an avowed atheist and authored the book God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything. And as you also undoubtedly know, Katy Perry is the daughter of two evangelical Christian pastors and plied her nascent singing trade as a Christian performer under her given name, Katy Hudson . . .

Katy Perry
Katy Perry


Katy Perry is scheduled to perform Tuesday, February 3.
Marquee Theatre in Tempe

Rose: So, no on Katy, then?

Hitchens: Oh, no no no, my dear Charlie, quite the opposite. With "I Kissed a Girl," Ms. Perry seems to have repudiated all of her religious brainwashing. So for that I applaud her, and whatever the merits of Ms. Sobule's catchy little song, Ms. Perry's song is indubitably a far more important statement.

Rose: Professor Hawking?

Stephen Hawking: Taking into account the acceleration of cosmic strings, the various theories of negative energy density, and the presence of vacuum fluctuations, I analyzed the soundwaves and innate structural composition of both songs and came to the incontrovertible scientific conclusion that Jill Sobule's "I Kissed a Girl" is a better-formed piece of matter.

Pete Wentz: Whoa, who put on OK Computer? "Fitter, happier, more productive . . ." Oh wait, I know: "Shall we play a game? Wouldn't you prefer a nice game of chess?!"

Hawking: You really are a douchebag.

Wentz: Settle down, Mr. Shrivel. Dude, it's all about Katy. Have you seen those fuckin' cans? Damn, that chick is smokin'! She's single now, too.

Rose: Is that kind of language really necessary, Mr. Wentz?

Gloria Steinem: Charlie, let me interject here. Jill Sobule's "I Kissed a Girl" is clearly a very sweet, honest, modest, and yet empowering portrayal of a sexual situation. Just look at Jill's lyrics: "I kissed a girl/Won't change the world/But I'm so glad I kissed a girl." But look at Katy's lyrics: "I kissed a girl just to try it/I hope my boyfriend don't mind it" and "It's not what good girls do/Not how they should behave."

Charlie, this is reprehensible! It suggests that kissing girls is wrong or, even worse, that it's only all right if men give their approval. Yet the song is wrapped in the guise of empowerment and some weird, warped take on feminism. It's exploitive, and absolutely the worst kind of message to put out there, and Ms. Perry should be ashamed.

Wentz: Lady, are you fucking nuts? Jill Sobule is totally butt and Katy Perry is hot! She can kiss all the girls she wants. She can kiss Ashlee if she wants to. I would totally watch.

Steinem: Oh, God.

Hitchens: Dammit, there is no God!!

Hawking: Albert Einstein said he believed in Spinoza's God, who . . .

Wentz: Spin-whatta? Dude, you're giving me a headache.

Rose: I'm afraid that's all the time we have for tonight. Thank you for joining us.

Wentz: Katy, you're hot! Call me.

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Emil Pulsifer
Emil Pulsifer

Wentz? I thought George Wendt was here. Now THAT would have been an interview.

The column was not, however, a total loss, as it has given me an idea for a hot new female band which, at the first available opportunity, I shall promote to stardom and milk for profit during their brief but lucrative claim to fame.

The name of the band will be Guttersnipe Girls. Or possibly Gyrrls. I'll have to check with the market survey people to see which spelling most excites the interest of today's fickle and undereducated adolescents.

Trixie, the Nice One, will dress in white, pink, and blue; she will exude an aura of naive wholesomeness. Natasha will dress all in black and wear too much make-up. Samantha (Sam for short) will wear boys' clothing, no make-up, and will perpetually dangle an unlit cigarette from her lips while displaying a bored and slightly surly attitude toward her bandmates. Paula will be the "everygirl" of the group, and will play the drums with a poster of Ringo Starr (post-Beatles) pinned up behind her.

Of course, the four will have no musical talent whatsoever. I'll pay some down on their luck studio musicians scale to fill-in for them during actual recording sessions, and the rest of the time the band can lip-sync.

I feel certain that Hanna Montana can be worked into the mix somehow, perhaps making a cameo appearance during select concerts, where it will be revealed that she has long been a fan. (I hope we won't have to pay her too much. Perhaps we can offer some sort of quid pro quo.)

When interest begins to flag, there will be the inevitable saucy scandal to freshen things up and catch the eye of the media. Perhaps a catfight between Sam and Kelly Osborne. Ghastly, but plausible. Or Trixie might be caught dating an older man. I wonder if George Wendt is available.

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