Ke$ha is confusing. When I first heard "Tik Tok," I thought it was a joke. An unfunny morning radio jingle, in which a white girl was "rapping." When I realized it was an actual song, I was incredulous — is this what people like now? I was bewildered by the human race. A year ago, I wrote the words, "her music is fucking terrible." As her songs became impossible to ignore — blaring out of radios, dance parties and movie trailers — I tried to assure myself that she was a one-hit wonder, a novelty, soon to be seen in a light-hearted I Love The Early 21st Century special on VH1. But Ke-dollar -sign-ha has stuck around, and, unlike some other pop stars, she seems to realize she's ridiculous. We've had hints that she's in on the joke before — like when she said she wanted to do a duet with Oscar The Grouch. But now that we've seen the glitter guns, unicorns in tuxedos and the "'instruments" she plays, it's gotten to the point where it seems like maybe Ke$ha knows what she's doing. Which is: Making crappy, cheesy music and having fun doing so.
Lousy cornball acts are not new, silly female-driven novelty tracks are not new. It is possible to enjoy JJ Fad's "Supersonic" or L'Trimm's "The Cars That Go Boom" while recognizing that they are not well-crafted, high-quality recordings. Good fun? Yes. Good, technically? No. But those acts produced memorable songs and then disappeared. Ke$ha has two albums, a tour and has been nominated for six Billboard awards. Upsetting — unless you accept the fact that she was never trying to make high-caliber, hall-of-fame worthy music.
New York Times writer Ben Ratliff went to Ke$ha's show, and writes:
The concert was likably ratty, semi-legitimate electro-pop pantomime. It felt neither safe nor transgressive, but within some unmarked middle space, one involving glitter blown from air guns, fluorescent lipstick and a fuzzy phallus costume. It was both sharp and completely naïve, crass and sort of innocent, a sparkly anti-performance. It ended with a version of the Beastie Boys' "(You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (to Party!)" and a piñata bashing. It knew what it was up to.
Emphasis ours. Ratliff also uses words like "infantile," "dumber," "lame, enthusiastic and joyful." And since that seems to be exactly what Ke$ha is aiming for, I think we can all agree that she's succeeded.