Does Ke$ha Know Something We Don't?

Illustration for article titled Does Ke$ha Know Something We Don't?

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.

She's Goofing Off, and She Knows What She's Doing

Earlier: Ke$ha: "I'm Not Just A Little Pop Moron"



I just don't think making fun pop and making good pop are at all mutually exclusive. Why are our only options self-absorbed "performance artists" or boneheaded one-dimensional disposable pop? Why is the "innovation" so blatantly regressive? Where are the new ideas, the creative thinkers? Literally the only mainstream pop singer I can think of who regularly challenges herself to explore new sounds is Beyonce, and 1. she's a fuckin' veteran by now and 2. her challenges to her sound aren't really that challenging. And don't fucking try to say Lady Gaga ANYTHING to me, her music is so bland and derivative that no one would have paid attention to her if she'd just put on some damn pants two years ago. She survives SOLELY on the hype around her; her music is and has always been incidental. She'd have been something like a genius if the music video was still remotely relevant but it's not. So enough of the lady who won't wear pants and makes music that I used to hear on the radio in 1995. ENOUGH.

The only innovative genre we've got right now is hip hop and it's making its progression in fits and starts (but my god how incredible some of those fits and starts have been). Rock is dead, deader than a fucking doornail, and whatever electro-new wave-garage-indie hybrid has been growing in its corpse is now just bland and predictable. Pop has always been the breeding ground for greatness, a veritable Garden of Eden in which genres could cross-bread and mutate. But now it's as polluted and barren as the rest of our fucking planet.

I eat, sleep, breathe, live, and die music. I love the fringes and I love the mainstream. There is always room in my head for a new sound, a good sound, an enjoyable sound. It does not have to be laden with message and subtext and bullshit; hell, I prefer it NOT to be! Just good sounds! Give me good sounds! I can't even get that anymore. I don't care if Ke$ha knows what she's doing, if she's in on the joke. MAKE. BETTER. MUSIC. E-FUCKING-NOUGH.

(edited for spelling mistakes. whoops.)