In Hear This, A.V. Club writers sing the praises of songs they know well—some inspired by a weekly theme and some not, but always songs worth hearing. This week, to mark the arrival of Sex Tape in theaters, we’re talking about songs that are meant to be sexy but just aren’t.
Katy Perry established herself as a lover of food-as-sex metaphors the moment she declared she’d “melt your popsicle” in “California Gurls,” shortly before ejaculating whipped cream out of cupcake breasts. But “California Gurls” was a delightfully flirty amuse-bouche compared to “Milk Milk Lemonade,” a song that didn’t make the cut on Teenage Dream, but which later surfaced on the Internet to create a generation of asexual bulimics. In terms of food-based symbolism, “California Gurls” is Tom Jones describing a fig in Women In Love. “Milk Milk Lemonade” is Jason Biggs fucking a pastry in American Pie.
The song—co-written with Bonnie McKee, Tricky Stewart, and Mrs. Wallace’s second-grade class—finds Perry taking the classic “Milk, milk, lemonade / ’Round the back’s where chocolate’s made” rhyme so familiar from super sexy playground chants and medical school entrance exams, then exploring all the various, erotic angles of the body’s waste-spewing orifices. Perry’s helped along by a whole Costco cart’s worth of foodstuff double entendres, which she’s apparently stocked up on just in case there’s some kind of sex-related hurricane: “I’ve got the juicy fruit, those sweet peaches and cream,” she coos. “Cool as a cucumber you’re coming on to me / You say, “You got the ripest melons on the street” / My honeydew and your banana make a treat.” Sorry, everyone else; you’ll just have to make poetry out of whatever’s left in the canned goods aisle. (Hopefully there are still some franks and beans.)
When Perry’s not bringing a ravaging drought to America’s metaphor fields, she’s also ruining ice cream for you (“I’ll let you double dip it in your favorite sauce / I’ll even let you eat the cherry on the top”) and being confused about how diabetes works. And then there’s that chorus, whose romantic nuances finally begin to emerge the longer it sticks around—just like the shit Katy Perry desperately wants to you know is made in her ass. This is called “subtext.”
Ultimately, Perry—or someone at her record company over the age of 9—decided that “Milk Milk Lemonade” just wasn’t a good fit for Teenage Dream, preferring the subtler come-ons of songs like “Peacock.” Still, it lives on as a warning to Perry that not every one of her overly obvious innuendos is destined to be a hit pop song. Just every other one.