What ‘I Kissed a Girl’ Can Teach You About Cartoons

Probably nothing…on the surface.

But let’s dig a little deeper.

I may go so far into left field with this post you might have to send out a search party. Here it goes anyway, so bear with me.

For my trip to Montreal, I flew Westjet. I dig Westjet because you get your own personal satellite TV that’s embedded in the seat backs. Even better, I got to watch an episode of my guilty pleasure “So You Think You Can Dance” (don’t judge me…yet).

On that show there was a live performance of a singer I’d never heard of, Katy Perry. (Remember, I’m old and don’t get out much.)

I heard this song ‘I Kissed a Girl’ for the first time. The subject matter made my eyes roll. She was all ‘girly-girly’ and that made my eyes roll (I’m so not girly-girly). I like rock songs, not this kind of fluff.

But I had to admit…it was catchy (OK, you can judge me now). Fine. On with my dance show already.

Then during my trip, a strange thing happened.

That song kept playing in my head.


And over.

And over.

I remembered most of the words too. From that one viewing/listening. It was crystal clear.

It bugged the hell out of me. It was torture to have a song I should have despised playing over and over in my brain. Finally when I was home again, it started to fade.


I saw the video on TV.

I should have hated it too. I kinda do.

The song was now back in my head.

But I keep watching it. Over and over.

I’ve actually started listening to this damn song on purpose!

I hate myself. I want to kick my own ass. I need professional help.

But I can’t stop. It’s like I have to get totally sick of it so it will leave me, never to return.

So what does this have to do with cartoons??

A few things.

Katy Perry and her little song have what good cartoons and films should have.


Think about it. Sometimes you don’t really know why you liked a certain film or cartoon. You just do. But when you dig a little deeper, they have those traits.


The song has a story. About her going out and having a few drinks. Then as an experiment, she kissed a girl. And she liked it. She hopes her boy-friend don’t mind it-

(Ahhhh! Get out of my head!!)

The story of the song helps you remember it. It’s also a simple story. Heck, the title is the story.

Lesson: When planning your own cartoons/films, story and storyline is important. If it’s very short (even not so short), keep it s-i-m-p-l-e.


The first time I was exposed to this song was in a live performance. I didn’t just hear it on the radio (though I suspect it still might have stuck, just not as fast). So it was a visual experience.

Katy Perry had that ‘it factor’ going on. The way she was dressed, her hair, the way she acted for some of the lyrics. She stood out. I liked her voice too. It was different.

She was, in essence, a strong character.

Lesson: Spend lots of time developing your characters. Explore every detail and get to know them. This will pay off big time when you start writing, storyboarding or animating.


This is where story and character meet. Without appeal, you got nuthin’. It’s also tricky. What creates that appeal? Well, for the song, it was the beat, the simplicity, the catchiness. Even though my logical brain said I should be hating the song, I still liked it.

For cartoons and film it can be other things. But in the end, it has to make a connection to the audience. It strikes a chord emotionally. Gives them a laugh. It makes them think. Or it’s just plain silly.

But they like it.

Lesson: Have appeal in your story and characters. Even the best ‘bad guys’ have appeal. Find that connection with your audience. Research this by finding out why you like certain films and cartoons. Where was the appeal?


Ever go see a film and certain parts keep playing in your head? You can keep talking about it with your friends. You remember it days later. You might want to go see it again.

Then for others, you basically forget it the minute you walk out of the theatre?

That’s stickness (or lack of stickiness). This is where story, character and appeal meet. When they’re all working together right, you should have stickiness.

That damn song has been playing in my head for the better part of two weeks. All the parts worked and even after one viewing, it stayed with me.

That, my friends, is stickiness.

Lesson: Work on the other three things and stickness will come. Hopefully.

So there’s my confession.

I watch ‘I Kissed a Girl’.

And I like it.

Now I’m going to torture you with it. Watch it at your own risk. Then tell me in the comments what song you hate yourself for liking.

Come on…you know you have one. πŸ™‚

Read the Storyboard Blog by RSS Feed or by email and I’ll never mention this song again.

31 thoughts on “What ‘I Kissed a Girl’ Can Teach You About Cartoons

  1. Liana

    Wow .” well put… I loved it ….and I get it….”

    I my self watched the same show as yourself that very same night and had the somewhat the same reaction not into the fluff stuff..only .

    Also for me too that song has been stuck in my head for days .. ( thank goodness Im not alone ).

    (Out of the closet , ” so you think you can danse lover”)

  2. Karen J Lloyd Post author

    Hey Liana!

    Glad that you ‘got it’ even though you’re not ‘in the biz’. Very cool.

    It’s always great to know we’re not alone in our neurosis! Crazy damn song…

    Yay for SYTYCD!!

  3. Koni

    Hey Karen and Liana,

    What power does this song have on us? I watched the same episode and the song got stuck in my head too!
    High recall alright! I must admit I liked it and this song is not meant for my age group, kinda asking myself why I did. You’ve explained it very well though, Karen.
    SYTYCD is a weekly fare, glad to know I’ve got company!

  4. Karen J Lloyd Post author

    Hey Koni!

    So funny that it stuck with all of us after the show. And we’re all ‘not youngins’. πŸ™‚ I hope this was a bit of a explanation.

    Maybe the guys ‘don’t get it’ (lucky them) and are rolling their eyes at ME for posting this silly thing. Forgive me guys! Better posts coming soon!

    I needed to do this as part of my exorcism. πŸ˜‰

  5. Chris.K

    I’m a guy… and hate to admit, but fell under the same fluffy siren’s spell ; ] And usually I’m so not into this type of music!!

    I hadn’t seen the video until now– geez now I have to fight off its visual catchiness too~

  6. Karen J Lloyd Post author

    Hey Chris, (nice stuff on your blog BTW! Gonna link to your boarding site.)

    So guys are at risk too, I see. I have a feeling the video would hook them in before the song would. Being the visual creatures that you are. πŸ™‚

    Sorry to have put the video in your head too.
    We may have to start a support group… πŸ˜‰

  7. T. Benjamin Larsen

    Ha ha. Can’t really say this song lingered with me in any way. (However as I actually caved and bought Miss Spears’ “Oops I did it again!” a few years back I’m not one to judge). πŸ˜‰

    As for the video, knowing nothing of the artist I got a funny ironic vibe from the video. Like she’s not really into the whole “commercial” pop-scene of things(?) I dunno, maybe I just been out in the sun for too long…

  8. Lorin

    Yeah, I had a similar experience when I popped in ‘The Lost Boys’, after twenty years. I fell off the couch laughing. Every single 80’s movie cliche` is in the scene…but like Katy’s song, this freaking song (and imagery – ie: a greased up body-builder playing a saxophone with permed hair in tight pants covered in chains) got stuck in my head for enough time for me to begin questioning my sexuality.

    The mythology guru, Joseph Campbell referred to these moments as “aesthetic arrest”; basically when all of your sense sync at that particular moment; kind of a creative religious experience.

    Needless to say I haven’t watched Lost Boys since…out of fear.

  9. Karen J Lloyd Post author

    @ Lorin
    Well, I’ve actually never seen the Lost Boys…and after that clip I don’t think I can. That guy creeped…me …out.

    You just *might* have to question your sexuality…not that there’s anything wrong with that. πŸ˜‰ (you know I’m kidding right?)

    @ Ben
    I can barely admit I kind of had the same experience with “Oops..” but to admit you actually *bought* the thing…wow!
    You’re a bigger man than I. πŸ˜‰

  10. Karen J Lloyd Post author

    Gaa! Now you guys have me looking at Britney on YouTube! I was kind of taken aback at her voice on “Oops!…” it sounds like it got the ‘South Park Treatment’.

    But I’m *sure* it was never altered in any way, right? *wink, wink* πŸ˜‰

  11. R.J.

    Well I’ll be joining the “stuck” party. This girl has a lot of character and communicates so well with the music and the audience. Her expressions just make me have to watch. Thanks….

  12. Karen J Lloyd Post author

    Hi and welcome R.J. πŸ™‚

    Yes, she certainly has that ‘it factor’ going on. I think she’s been struggling in the biz for a while and is finally getting her dues. Only time will tell how long her ride lasts.

    But good for her. Now get out of our heads Katy!!

  13. Janice Cartier

    β€œaesthetic arrest”

    I am so glad there is a name for it.

    Karen . You Rock. I mean it. Love the analysis. Love the concept. Love the conclusions.

    I heard this too and wondered why is this stuck in my head? Why on earth do I actually really like it?

    Okay I like I Kissed a Girl. Can’t believe it, but I do. Plain language its’ about being naughty and liking it…..:)))

    Mischief is a great motivator, creatively. And this song has that nanny boo boo..HA I did it/ I liked appeal wrapped up in package that goes primal on us.

    Makes me want to color outside the lines, challenge concepts, and dance too. But don’t tell anyone. Augh, now the damn thing IS stuck in my head.

    ( And I have watched TWO South Park Episodes. Corruptor, you and the Friar. πŸ™‚ )

  14. Karen J Lloyd Post author

    Thanks so much Janice! And I’m telling *everyone*!!! πŸ™‚

    I guess we’ve all been ‘aesthetically arrested’? That naughtiness you’re talking about must be the ‘appeal’ part, huh? We all secretly like to be bad. It just varies for each person. (mine is probably eating ice cream…lame).

    Me and the Friar will turn you into a Parkyte yet! (made that up…also lame). Thanks for coming by. πŸ™‚

  15. Karen J Lloyd Post author

    @ Brett-
    ‘Crotch rock’…hahaha! You gotta wonder if those guys (and others like them) look back on those videos and just want to smack themselves upside the head.

    Never heard that one before. Thanks for the contribution (I think). πŸ™‚

    @ Janice-
    Hmm…you may be onto something there. The only question is: sitcom or reality show? Decisions, decisions… πŸ˜‰

  16. Brett Legree

    LOL glad you liked it… my wife also found that term funny when she first heard it (I guess “non-metalheads” don’t know the term)

    Still a good tune though…

  17. Karen J Lloyd Post author

    @ Brett –
    Well, I’ve seen Metallica about 5 times…does that count? I dated a metalhead for a while and he got me hooked on Motorhead too (are they classified as metal?).
    LOVE Motorhead!

    (I actually meant I never heard that *song* before, but I don’t think I’ve heard of crotch rock either, so it’s still funny). πŸ™‚

  18. Brett Legree


    Okay, you are a metalhead then πŸ™‚

    Oh yes, Motorhead is metal for sure. Awesome guys. I saw them in Mississauga at some warehouse type place called “The World” (probably isn’t even there anymore). Great show. The headliner was Black Sabbath, the opening band was Morbid Angel (I got a black eye in the pit), and Motorhead was THE LOUDEST BAND I’VE EVER HEARD IN MY LIFE.

    (I forgot my earplugs.) I could barely hear Sabbath…

    Yeah, that Crue song is pretty old. I remember when that album came out, everyone thought they were so “evil”…


  19. Karen J Lloyd Post author

    That’s cool you saw Sabbath live. I’ve seen Motorhead too…Lemmy ain’t cute. πŸ˜‰

    I was also at the Faith No More/ Guns n Roses/ Metallica concert in Montreal where there was the *huge* riot.

    GnR had buggered off early, we waited for hours and when Metallica came on, Hetfield got burned by pyrotechnics. It was CRAZY. I still have that T-shirt. Most people burned theirs in a bonfire in the Olympic stadium. I kid you not.

    Rock on Brett!
    *bangs head*

  20. Brett Legree

    Sabbath is pretty cool. I’ve actually seen them three times live. Never with Ozzy though πŸ™

    (once with Dio, which was good, and twice with Tony Martin)

    Hey, I saw the GnR / Metallica show at the CNE that followed the one you saw. I’ve seen GnR twice – once there, when they were “big”, and once in ’87 when they were nobodies. They were opening for Iron Maiden in Ottawa, and a bunch of guys who were following GnR from show to show said, “these guys are going to be big!”

    They got a bad sound check and you couldn’t hear Axel at all, but they had a lot of energy and stage presence.

    (Although, Maiden blew them away…)


  21. Karen J Lloyd Post author

    I think I saw GnR more than once too. That 20 minutes they played couldn’t have been the only time. Too bad Axel is such and A-hole…their downfall I think.

    Hey, all this metal talk may be helping the Katy Perry purge! LOL πŸ™‚

  22. Lorin

    Wow, Katy’s song has really turned this post into quite the confessional. Well, in that vein, I think she’s really cute…so I don’t mind the video. Whew! Got rid of that greased up sax-playing body-builder, finally. Thanks, Karen.

  23. LIANA

    So the other day my daughter came home , and has this really catchy tune ” would you like to guess the tune” ?

    There is just something really disturbing with a 6yr old singing that she kissed a girl and she thinks she likes it , (all day)

    I was just getting over this song .( liana clinches her teeth)


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