Last night, Brooklyn singer-songwriter Catey Shaw released the music video for what everybody pretty much agrees is the Bushwick-ified version of “California Gurls.” It is exactly what you might think the Brooklyn iteration of the Katy Perry song would be: slightly obnoxious and impossibly catchy.
The video (which should probably be titled “Morgantown Girls,” since it is pretty much exclusively set in on that specific corner of Bushwick) features Shaw waxing poetic about the kind of Brooklyn Girl who has blue tips, wears rompers and Nets snapbacks and “combat boots in the summer;” in general, the girls who manage to marry twee and street style while doing things like dancing in front of graffiti, drinking shitty beer in backyard bars and sitting menacingly on stoops.
But however contrived these images may be to the wary Brooklynite who’s sick of pop products being used to further Brooklyn as a too-easily digestible brand, Shaw herself is a living embodiment of the broke artist types she’s glorifying. After a year at SVA, she was forced to drop out because she couldn’t pay the tuition, left to crash on a friend’s couch in Jersey City. She started playing the ukulele in the subway so she’d have enough money to eat—which, ironically, was where Shaw landed her big break. Music producer Jay Levine was riding the F train when it stopped at 23rd St, where Shaw was busking. One week later, she was in the recording studio.
You won’t hear a ukulele on “Brooklyn Girls,” though—instead, there’s a bit of acoustic guitar and mostly a big bass drum, Shaw’s folksy, pretty voice and the same choral “whoas” you’ll hear on most pop-rock songs nowadays. In short, it’s fun and catchy and despite its somewhat annoying lyrics (see below, though we still can’t figure out what that first line is supposed to be UPDATE: Shaw informed us it’s “palace of bricks”) I’ve probably listened to it about eight times this morning.
“The whole thing about a Brooklyn girl is that you don’t have to be from Brooklyn. It’s more this whole idea of the strong female,” Shaw explains in an interview on her website. Here’s the video:
If you can’t stomach extremely buoyant pop music (what happened to you?), here are the lyrics:
There’s a palace of bricks in 11206
Where all the fly Brooklyn chicks reside
Combat boots in the summer
Subway train rollin’ under
See her on the Lower East Side
In her walk, there’s a fire
And she’s got her own style
You’ll get lost in her mystery
And tonight she owns the city
When they walk in, they rule the world
Tough and pretty, break the rules
Brooklyn girls (x 4)
Jay-Z bumps in our headphones
Drinks on top of the brownstones
Get it on in the bathroom stall
Sunset girls acting prissy
Won’t get far in the city
We will freeze up your popsicle
‘Cuz we play rough and gritty
They all wanna catch our kitty
And there’s no use denyin’
That tonight we run the island
Wait for the L train
Bedford to Broadway…
See Catey Shaw perform “Brooklyn Girls” at a free release party tomorrow night at Baby’s All Right.
Follow Rebecca Jennings on Twitter @rebexxxxa.