“Yikes. Whatever 55-year-old Tin Pan Alley hack wrote the lyrics for this one really needs to brush up on his contemporary pop culture references.” – me upon hearing the line “But we kick em to the curb unless they look like Mick Jagger” in Kesha’s “Tik Tok.”
How annoying is Ke$ha? Less annoying than you might think. But still pretty fucking annoying.
Let’s deal with the dollar sign name business first.
As noted imperial racist Winston Churchill (metal name: Winston Churchkill) once said of the fake rule about ending sentences with prepositions, this is the sort of nonsense up with I shall not put. In the interest of limiting my exposure to “shift 4” toxins, I’m just going to call her Kesha, which is enough of a backwater mall chick name to be sufficiently weird anyway.
Next. Obviously, the valley girl rap thing is a deal breaker. Her rhymes are terrible and her rhythm is forced (poorly), but the real killer is her inflection. She’s a terrible actress, over-selling every word and sarcastic aside. But it isn’t like her character is that complicated: she’s a boozy party girl. That’s it. All she had to do was play a techno beat and use the word “party” in the chorus to get that point over.
The other complaints about her can be placed in the who-gives-a-shit file. She’s not a very good singer, but being a good singer is the least important part about being a pop star, an idea I will expand upon in a separate entry and someday soon link to here. Her lyrics are terrible, but her beats and production are mostly good enough to make up for that. And I’m not going to talk about how she’s an ugly gross weirdo because I’m not 12 and that’s not true (she’s actually fairly pretty and everything else is counter-programing against the unstoppable force of Lady Gaga. But she doesn’t have the generic, Anime-like blank features of Katy Perry or Britney Spears.).
Overall, Kesha is not very well equipped to be a pop star. Her weaknesses are readily apparent and her strengths are hidden. She doesn’t have the looks, the pipes or the dance moves of her contemporaries, or even your average ham and egger American Idol contestant.
But. Think about her like this: she’s like a ninja who sucks overall but is really good with nunchucks. When Michael Dudikoff squares off against awesome nunchuck ninja, do you think well that guy’s really good with the nunchucks, but I’ll bet his creeping around skills and swordplay need work? No. You stop being a hypercritical sourpuss and enjoy the fucking show.
Kesha’s nunchuck is the disco battle cry. She is the undisputed master of it. The part where she goes “This place is about to blow-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh” in “Blow” always drags me out of my head and onto a dance floor. Same with “oh-ee-oh-ee-oh-oh” in “Tik Tok.” And “Tonight we’re going hard-hard-har-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-hard” in “We r We r.”
And, while I’m loathe to break up a perfectly good martial arts metaphor (and American Ninja reference), I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Kesha’s second skill: her willingness to let herself be digitally manipulated. Her voice ping pongs around the eletronic spectrum in a way that’s pretty fun and would have been impossible even a decade ago. I like to think that it’s exactly what it would sound like if Aphex Twin remixed Debbie Gibson as a prank.