Avril Lavigne has answered critics who've labeled her new "Hello Kitty" video as racist.
It appears Ms. Lavigne begs to disagree.
"RACIST??? LOLOLOL!!! I love Japanese culture and I spend half of my time in Japan. I flew to Tokyo to shoot this video…," she tweeted Wednesday, "…specifically for my Japanese fans, WITH my Japanese label, Japanese choreographers AND a Japanese director IN Japan.
The tune, co-written with hubby Chad Kroger of Nickelback, is heavy on references to Japan's "kawaii" culture, which encompasses all things cute. Think Sanrio's Hello Kitty line, cupcakes, candy — or don't bother with thinking at all and simply watch Lavigne bop through the land of cute.
She's backed by four somewhat interchangeable Japanese dancers who deliver deadpan expressions and robotic performances as the singer cavorts through a giant candy store, gets crazy with cupcakes and has a gleeful sped-up encounter at a sushi bar.
After the clip popped up online Tuesday — only to be quickly taken off YouTube because, a rep said, it wasn't supposed to launch until Vevo debuted it Thursday — Billboard opined that the video squeezed "Gwen Stefani's Japan fetishization into an even more unseemly package" and was "more of a train wreck than the track itself."
In its critique, Rolling Stone noted that Japanese culture has also provided awkward inspiration for Stefani's 2004 videos featuring her Harajuku Girls backup dancers on tracks from "Love. Angel. Music. Baby.," and Katy Perry's geisha-themed American Music Awards performance of "Unconditionally" last year. Stefani of course also has her Harajuku Lovers fashion and perfume lines.
Check out the new clip and let us know what you think. Warning: No matter what you think of the video, the song "Hello Kitty" has earworm potential. You might not be able to get it out of your head. (Ask us how we know. Sigh.)