In HateSong, we ask our favorite musicians, writers, comedians, actors, and so forth to expound on the one song they hate most in the world.
The hater: Famously a fan of weed, boobs, metal, comic books, and fart jokes, Brian Posehn has grumbled his way to the top of the comedy world with countless road appearances, as well as roles on The Sarah Silverman Program, Mission Hill, Just Shoot Me, and Mr. Show. Posehn just released his third stand-up album, The Fartist, and he also collaborated on the upcoming book Hollywood Said No! with David Cross and Bob Odenkirk. He does plenty of complaining in his act, but we asked him to elaborate on just one song that he truly abhors.
The hated: Katy Perry, “Firework” (2010)
Brian Posehn: When I got asked to do this, I looked at what other people had picked and I felt like it would have been obvious for me to go after a bad metal song—like Autograph’s “Turn Up The Radio,” or anything Poison ever did, or Warrant or White Lion. I mean, there is a ton of shit I hate; I hate mostly everything. But I just felt like I’d rather listen to even the worst metal song more than most current pop music. I’m getting to that age right now where I feel like a grandpa any time I hear some new song, because I don’t listen to the radio. Does anybody? I don’t watch MTV so I don’t even get music from those old places, but now it’s in commercials and you’re like, “What is this ‘Fireworks’ song?” and then you do a little bit of research and you’re like, “Oh, my God this is just a new level of sucking.” And I doubt Katy Perry wrote it. I was going to do a little research to see if she wrote it, but I’m sure you did. Did she write this song?
The A.V. Club: She’s listed as a writer, but there are also four other writers on that song.
BP: It took five people to write that song?! Oh my God, that makes me hate it even more! What’s the first thing she says? I’m sure I won’t get it exactly right, but “Have you ever felt like a plastic bag blowing in the wind?” Is that close to what she says?
AVC: It’s “Do you ever feel like a plastic bag / Drifting through the wind, wanting to start again?”
BP: So she’s referencing that movie that a lot of us saw and it was overrated and a lot of us didn’t see it or don’t care. I’m already mad that’s she doing an American Beauty reference and I also don’t think she’s ever felt like that. She’s hot, which gets me to the main reason that I hate that song: I think she’s pandering so fucking hard to the fat-girl audience. When I first saw that video, I had already heard the song in the commercial or wherever it was and I went, “Oh, what a piece of crap.” Then I looked it up and I saw the video. The video is about this poor girl who has weight issues and she goes to a party—it’s how I felt in high school. I felt like the fat girl at every party. And blah, blah, blah, aren’t people terrible, you should be yourself and you’re a firework and you’re going to light up the sky! And it’s great to tell young girls that, but she’s the wrong girl to be telling girls that. You know what I mean? I mean if Linda Perry wrote it—she’s really unattractive—and, if she had Pink sing it—Pink is a man that dresses like a lady sometimes. If Pink sings that song, you’re like, “Oh, yeah. This is for me; this is for gross people.” But when Katy Perry sings it, there’s a little bit of, “Hey, you don’t know what it’s like to be a plastic bag or a fat girl. Shut up.”
AVC: It could also be for gay teenagers.
BP: She knows what that’s like! I don’t think anybody called Katy Perry “faggot” in high school. I don’t think she ever went home crying because the mean guys on the rugby team called her a homo. So fuck her again for writing to anybody. She should just write songs for pretty, dumb girls. Or co-write.
AVC: This song is also incredibly simplistic. She’s telling you exactly how to feel and when. It’s written for 4-year-olds.
BP: Well, there are songs like that that work. What’s the Christina Aguilera song? “Beautiful.” It’s a good sentiment of, oh, you’re all beautiful deep down and deep down we’re all beautiful. I feel like TLC also had a “don’t hate yourself” song. And that’s okay; my problem is that it’s her and, you’re right—how simplistic the lyrics are. It feels like the Disney Radio version of “Beautiful.”
AVC: Maybe she’s cool and we don’t know.
BP: Katy? Nah, kind of doubt it. She’s going out with John Mayer. I mean, really? How fucking cool are you if you’re letting that guy inside of you?
AVC: How do you know all this? You seem like the kind of guy who wouldn’t know about this stuff.
BP: As a comic, I used to know more about pop culture. A couple of years ago I got kind of panicky and my wife and I turned on one of the MTV Awards. We had always been the cool kids making fun of the shit that everyone else liked and then we felt like we didn’t know what everybody else liked anymore, so we watched the MTV Awards a couple of years ago, and that made us feel even older. That was when Katy Perry and Lady Gaga and a couple of other people were breaking and we were like, “What is this?!” So I did a little bit more research. I still do that. Like I really hate Nicki Minaj, but I don’t know why I hate her. I just hate her face, you know? So I went and just looked at some Nicki Minaj videos so I would have a leg to stand on if I ever met someone who liked her. If you’re on the debate team, you’re going to do the research. You’re not just going to say, “abortion is bad” or “abortion is awesome.” You’re going to read about why abortion is bad or why it’s awesome, you know? So speaking of abortion: Katy Perry. [Laughs.]