John Mayer’s Katy Perry duet “Who You Love” attempts a deceptively delicate balance. It’s the only obvious-seeming radio hit from Mayer’s Frank Ocean-guesting 2013 album Paradise Valley, but it’s also a horn-simmering, Van Morrison-style guitar ballad unlike what you expect from Top 40 (even in a year when Lorde’s “Royals,” Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines,” and Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky” finally put an end to the Will.i.am-LMFAO/EDM-pop hegemony). It’s a song with a potentially universal, maybe even politically charged theme — just, “You love who you love” — but it’s also very deliberately about Mayer and Perry as a romantic couple. It’s a major-label single with a legendary producer and a thoughtfully conceived video, but it’s also presented as an intimate moment, with organic instrumentation — Mayer, premiering the video with Perry on Good Morning America, kept using the word “authentic” — plus a closing vérité Perry “love giggle” you simply can’t unhear.
The newly released video is all love giggle. Deal with it. Directed by Sophie Muller (behind Rihanna’s “Stay,” Beyoncé’s “Ring the Alarm,” Blur’s “Song 2,” and many others you’ve probably seen), the audaciously simple clip shows Mayer and his Prism pal cuddling together, interspersed with footage of other couples riding on mechanical bulls. The celebs’ closeness could strike you as supremely adorable, supremely annoying, or both, but the point seems to be that they don’t care — though why they’d actually want to sing so close to each other’s faces, who knows. The video doesn’t make a big deal out it — rightly so — but it’s great to see more than just other white, straight couples riding those bulls. Oh, and there are some sublimely ridiculous shots of Perry and Mayer together on their own mechanical bull, before it all ends in confetti. Unlike Kanye West and Kim Kardashian’s “Bound 2” video, it might not be ripe for a South Park spoof, or a Seth Rogen-James Franco spoof. But as a great man once said, “What’s better than followers is actually falling in love.” Go ahead and puke, but puking sucks, so why would you wanna do that?