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‘American Girl’ Bonnie McKee On Her Celeb-Filled Summer Anthem


2011 had “Moves Like Jagger,” 2012 had “Call Me Maybe,” but as for the summer anthem of 2013? The jury’s still out…until now. Check out the video below to hear “American Girl,” the catchiest tune to cross our headphones all season—and from a relative newcomer, no less. Or is she?

Turns out Bonnie McKee is the most popular girl you’ve never heard of, the brains behind hits like Taio Cruz’s “Dynamite,” Britney Spears' “Hold It Against Me” and Katy Perry’s “Teenage Dream” (and “California Girls”). Watch the laundry list of celeb friends lip sync her new single in the music video; we’re talking Kelly Osbourne, Jane Lynch, Katy Perry, Ke$ha, Jewel, Jenny McCartney, Joan Rivers, Nicole Scherzinger and Tommy Lee (in drag!).

Rolling Stone’s “Best Secret Weapon” makes an appearance too, but not long enough for my liking. So I caught up with McKee to learn more about her style, her songs and the talented group of people she calls friends.

Julie Bensman: Congrats on your first single!

Bonnie McKee: Thanks! It's a really bright, nostalgic song and fun to sing. I wrote it as an ode to the suburban adolescent experience. It's about the freedom of youth and the idea that we, as Americans, can do anything we put our minds to; at the same time, it's a nod to the blissful ignorance and frivolousness of the American Teenager. America isn't perfect, but there's nowhere else I'd rather call home. Yeah, that was a cheesy patriotic moment. Proud American over here!

JB: The video is packed full of some all-American A-list names. How did you wrangle them all?

BM: Most of them are my friends! Short of George Takei, who was kind of a wildcard. It's funny, it's probably the most important video I've ever made and it didn't cost me a thing…except like ten years struggling in the industry. That's all. Hah!

JB: You've written countless songs which have entered pop culture history. What's the secret to making a #1 single?

BM: Unique simplicity. Find something simple and familiar and paint it a different color. I like to write songs that are universal, so everyone from your grandma to your little sister to your biker uncle can enjoy and relate to it.

JB: Where do you find inspiration to write?

BM: Everywhere! I literally keep my eyes and ears open everywhere I go. The world is full of hidden art. It could be something I overhear on an airplane or a slogan I see on a billboard… I like to think of a song as a million dollar word puzzle and then hope I can solve it so the world may actually get to hear it.

JB: Where do you find inspiration to dress?

BM: I love Pinterest because it's like a virtual rabbit hole of beautiful things. It's great because you can go through old classics and check out Blondie or Brigitte Bardot, and then also see what the modern girls are wearing in the nightclubs in Paris. The Internet is an awesome, voyeuristic portal into the lives and minds of tastemakers.

JB: Describe your own sense of style.

BM: Street Chic. I love referencing classic punk rock like the Ramones or 80s NY Madonna, and mixing it with of-the moment-designers. I always, always wear designer shoes: Giuseppe Zanotti, Brian Atwood, Charlotte Olympia, Louboutin, Casadei…

JB: What's the best beauty advice you've ever received?

BM: Quit drinking.