The pop culture hive-mind has already begun anointing 5 Seconds of Summer’s “She Looks So Perfect” the song of the summer, and with good reason: it is pure grade windows-down power-pop. It is perfect for summer, and that’s the thing – it’s too perfect. It’s such an engineered encapsulation of that not-a-boy-band-but-definitely-a-boy-band sound that if you were trying to make a parody of the genre, you couldn’t do any better than “She Looks So Perfect.”
5SOS (as they're colloquially called) take a tried and true tradition and very nearly perfect it. Everything is here: the opening "he-E-y" chants, the Tumblr-able lyrics, the bass-drum driven, hand-clap inspiring bridge. It is the sugary side of pop-punk, infinitesimally edgier than straight-pop One Direction, but still catchy as hell. "She Looks So Perfect" is factory-made for summer and teens. You hear it once and say "of course that's the song of the summer." But if you listen to it enough times (and by August you absolutely will), you begin to question how it can possibly be real.
How did four Australian teenagers nail that "sound" (and look) so perfectly? "She Looks So Perfect" and it's accompanying video hits every power-pop trope so directly on the nose that it's almost comical. Let's analyze the music video:
We open on three of 5SOS looking exactly as they're supposed to: skinny jeans; black shirt, sleeveless shirt, or both; canvas sneakers; hair styled just ever-so disheveled. You can't see it now, but the drummer is wearing a bandana headband.
Lip ring. Because remember, they're edgier than your typical boy band. The only thing missing is for the bassist to have ear gauges.
"You look so perfect standing there in my American Apparel underwear"
Seriously, how is that real? Has any line in any song ever been written so purposefully for high school Tumblrs? Did American Apparel commission a power-pop band?
And this – this is a joke, right?
It has the mandatory "get me out of this place" teen angst:
"This deadbeat town's only here just to keep us down"
They all look into the camera like this at various points in the video, with their wide-eyed, heart-melting stares.
And then halfway through the video everyone (except the band members themselves) starts to take off all their clothes, in true pop-punk tradition. Seriously, it's Jimmy Eat World's "The Middle" a decade later.
I am roughly 80 percent sure that this song is a parody. How else do you explain lyrics like "Your lipstick stain is a work of art" and "I made a mixtape straight out of '94/I've got your ripped skinny jeans lying on the floor"? "She Looks So Perfect" is oozing with sweet teen sentimentality. That lipstick line is straight out of an 8th grade poetry journal.
OK, so it's probably not a parody, but it doesn't matter – the point is that 5SOS somehow crafted the perfect summer pop song with just enough hint of something else, and it's so good at what it does that it feels synthetic, like cotton-candy or Pepsi. And who doesn't love cotton-candy and Pepsi in summer?