Ke$ha. No matter what you think of her, you can't argue that the "Tik Tok" singer has managed make herself a topic. And in doing so, she is severing the musical ties that bind. It's a pop-culture Civil War.
You might want to dismiss Ke$ha as a flash in the pan; it's easy to define her as a wannabe club kid who lucked into a maniacally catchy hook. No such luck. She's the first #1 artist of the decade, and even the most strident of haters cannot deny that she's a Big Deal, garnering attention not just for her mastery of autotune, but also for her non-musical antics — blatantly capitalizing on rumors of her bisexuality, bashing little Justin Bieber, setting a new nadir for all American Idol guest costumes. And now, with her new single dropping, Ke$ha is as ubiquitous as ever. But she of the glitterface and ratty hair is inspires strong reactions from her fans and her haters. You have to choose sides; here's who's on each team.
Those in the PRO-KE$HA CAMP site her catchy riffs and potential to save the music biz - the woman managed not merely to topple Susan Boyle and her Ladyship Gaga, but do so despite the making her free downloads readily available. Others just think she's fun - and provides validation for those who choose to spend their weekends prancing on small-town bars without underpants! On this side of the divide we have:
Barry Weiss, head of Sony's RCA/Jive label group, who declares, presumably from a money throne: "Ke$ha's going to be this year's Halloween dress-up [costume]. Last year it was Gaga. Ten years ago it was Britney [Spears]. That's how big this feels." We're trying to envision this, making a mental note to either stay in or stock up on Jack and toothbrushes before the inevitable rush.
The New York Times is another fan of what they describe as "a zippy and salacious celebration of late nights and mornings-after." We hope any dentists reading have added a cheap-whiskey-flavored flouride option; otherwise we despair for the oral hygiene of the generation of children who've succombed to its zippy and salacious charms.
On the internet, naturally, the battle rages furiously. One StacyCaba, on "Amplicate," might be said to speak for all Ke$ha-lovers when she writes passionately, "I love Kesha, you're all nuts. Kesha's such a non-conformist and totally punk and everyone hates her cause she's georgeous. We are all animals and I believe to feel completely at one with your being, you have to be in tune with those primal instincts, its just nature. Geese, you all just keep on livin' within the Matrix, with your blinders on, good little sheep. you can have fun and still be good smart people, I mean that is possible. I love her, I will always, I cannot wait till she comes to Chicagoland."
And Weiss, again, summarizes with chilling accuracy the singer's power: "18-22-year-old girls and women are getting on the bar in Milwaukee when "Tik Tok" comes on. This is their song." (This could also be an argument in the "Con" column.)
The ANTI-KE$HA CAMP, on the other hand, finds the singer derivative, shameless and manufactured, a horsewoman of the social apocalypse with dangerous middle-brow appeal. Or at least, that's what we assume Sam Ronson is saying when she writes that "ke$ha should die." (Um, opinions do not reflect those of the editors.)
Her online critics are, of course, brutal. Writes the mastermind of one of several anti-Ke$ha Facebook groups, "i cant stand the fake nasty thing."
Professional critics are scarcely kinder. Sniffed the Independent, "She adopts a calculated cheap'n'trashy persona à la Britney and throws in a little Katy Perry-ish staged controversy. Over the long haul, Ke$ha's shtick palls."
And Ke$ha has also made a powerful enemy in professional jackass and would-be music critic Perez Hilton, who screams, "Ke$ha, get your OWN style!"
In the crucial UNDECIDED CAMP we have both the many millions who don't care...and Courtney Love.
On the one hand, she Tweeted Pro-Ke$ha, describing the singer as, "a chick from Lolla and i want her to be my new BFF that the coolest girl in High school huh? LOVE HER!"
But upon further reflection, she took it back, going Anti-Ke$ha in this video: "I saw this picture of Ke$ha at Lollapalooza and I put her on my TwitPic because I thought she was, like, a cute, cool girl … And then I heard [the song]! Sweetie, I need to fix your shit!" From Ke$ha's perspective, this has got to be either the pinnacle, or the nadir, of achievement.
Perhaps when Courtney's decided, the war will be as well.