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