When the legendary George Balanchine choreographed the version of Tchaikovsky's The Nutcracker that rules the American holiday season, he probably did not foresee a day when his Sugar Plum Fairy and her kingdom of sweets would be a primary influence for a music video that contains, as its climax, a woman shooting whipped cream out of her breasts. Alas, we cannot see the future, so Mr. Balanchine did not have the foresight to write Katy Perry a note asking if she might refrain from spraying her whipped cream all over an extended, if perhaps unknowing, homage to him. As a result, we can now watch the music video for "California Gurls," in which Katy Perry — a Sugar Plum Fairy who cannot settle on a Technicolor wig — rolls around in a Candyland that looks like it might appeal to girls, as it is full of sugar and spice and a lot of things bright pink, but actually appeals to people who like to see girls naked. Among the visual Tic Tacs meant to put you into a sugar coma are a middle-finger-waving gummy bear, cotton-candy clouds that can support a naked Katy Perry's weight, women inanimately suspended in Jell-o and cellophane, button-candy minidresses, Snoop Dogg, and a wide variety of flavored undergarments, including but not limited to the aforementioned whipped-cream bra, an obscene cupcake bra, and a peppermint-patty bra. It is enough saccharine gobbledygook to make us long for a good ol' machine-gun bra.
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But even in a rote story, with prosaic direction, the lead performances ring true.