The third in a trifecta of videos from pop music’s current ruling harem involving some juxtaposition of sci-fi action and mythological creatures (the others being Kesha’s superior “Blow” and Lady Gaga’s superior-er “Born This Way”), Katy Perry’s “E.T.” finds the singer taking on the role of an extra-terrestrial goddess who changes outfits more often than Cher during her Vegas stage show.
It goes something like this: An alien (Perry) sends out a siren song to a decimated Earth, which has suffered a mass extinction circa 2030 and looks a lot like the trash-covered planet in WALL-E (even the old-timey love song that sounds like it’s reverberating from a vintage radio buried beneath the garbage is straight out of the Pixar film’s opening sequence). She transforms herself into a “human,” resuscitates a robot astronaut lying in said trash heap and turns it into a man, and the pair walk off into the sunset.
Directed by Floria Sigismondi, the video for Perry’s latest infuriatingly infectious single is largely comprised of shots of a floating Perry looking like a cross between a Na’vi from Avatar and Ziggy Stardust interspersed with lightning-quick flashes of DNA helixes, war, and—in what looks like shots from an Animal Planet program—various creatures doing the nasty. It’s some kind of environmental message, right? Not quite. Those flashing images were Perry ostensibly downloading information about Earth so she could assume her disguise, and it becomes clear she’s made a glaring mistake when, at the end of the video, it’s revealed she transformed herself into centaur.
It’s a step up from bras that shoot whipped cream and fireworks, but this is ultimately Sigimondi’s vision, and it’s far from her finest five minutes. Kanye West, who guests on the track, is a non-presence, and though the art direction and/or CGI (differentiating between the two is an ongoing struggle here at The House) is often dazzling (specifically, the tire-strewn ground on Earth), Perry frequently looks like an animated video-game character. That’s not a good thing when you’ve got a real-life flesh-and-boobs actor like Perry at your disposal.