I know it’s easy to be a rock fan and proclaim hatred for anything pop. However, I see myself sort of like that kid in the Frosted Mini-Wheats commercial that aired years ago. One side of me likes the side that’s good for me, in other words mind and attitude expanding music that makes me think, and the other side likes the frosting. Tasty, tasty frosting. So as a kid that was raised on some of the sugariest 80s pop, I have a sweet tooth for overly-produced happy junk food music. And Ke$ha’s new album hits the spot.
I must give Ke$ha credit where credit is due. All of the songs on this record are written or at least co-written by Ke$ha herself. Sure most of the songs aren’t really deep. It’s all about a festive party mood in most of these songs. Ke$ha just wants to have a nasty trashy good time. Is that so wrong?
We start out with the electro blast of “Warrior” or as I call it “Warriorior”, a dancefloor battle cry “We are the bad kids, the degenerates…” I don’t know if she’s going to start a revolution as the song states, but the song is a great start to the party. Meanwhile Ke$ha vows to “fight for the fuck ups”. Yeah this album is not censored like Animal and Cannibal. And Ke$ha loves to curse on some of the songs. As it should be. The song also has a nice Justice-esque glitch breakdown. Next is the big first single, “Die Young”. The guitar reminds me of a Boston song of all things. The song is loads of fun, has a great groove to it and has a pound-and-response chorus which is a sure fire way to get the song stuck in your head. Third on the menu we have “C’mon”, the newest single and hilariously weird video. This song is pure candy. Proof to me that Ke$ha understands how to craft a guaranteed catchy pop track. Here trashes a mexi-mart and sips on a warm wine cooler.
Ke$ha then turns up the rock and the trashy on “Thinking of You” where she belittles her “slut” of an ex with “I’m over it, so suck my dick”. She sure seems to love publicly humiliating those that do her wrong, maybe almost too much. And she makes it so fun! Next comes an out of tune whistled intro to “Crazy Kids” which almost sounds like “We R Who We R II”. Sure she will never me a respected world class hip hop MC. But she has a gift for rhyming things like Gucci and coochie, kitty cat and zodiac in a way that makes you smile. “Wherever You Are” comes next on a more serious note, but still an upbeat club track. While this could be a hit, it also feels like the first one I could skip past, as it sounds a bit like what else is on the radio. But still not bad.
Then we get to the second half, kicking off with… Iggy Pop? “Dirty Love” is a rockin’ duet with Iggy Pop. Seriously. And it’s one of the most entertaining tracks because it shouldn’t work but it does. Best lines go to Iggy of course, with “cockroaches do it, in garbage cans… Santorum did it, in a v-neck sweater…but Wild Child can do it better”. Then we slow down with the rock ballad “Wonderland”, which sounds kind of like Katylana Morisshakira. Not bad, but ultimately sounds like someone else…underneath her clothes.
“Only Wanna Dance With You” livens things back up, with a bouncy new wave beat. Pure pop catchy singalong heaven. All the right harmonizing, all the smiley cheesiness, I can’t help but feel good hearing this one. “Supernatural” gets back into familiar dark electro groove territory. I’m pretty sure the “baby when we touch” chorus is nicked from a similarly titled 2000’s club track. But it still works. Wait… now I know where that chorus is from. It’s “Wouldn’t It Be Good” by Nik Kershaw. The credits confirm this. Hmmmmm. “All That Matters (The Beautiful Life)” continues the clubbing. I’m sure this one will be a single also. I can see people putting their hands up already.
Then we hit the forehead-smacking part. The closing song, “Love Into The Light” is a blatant ripoff of Phil Collins’ “In The Air Tonight”. Not only the gated drum sound, but the vocoder vocals and big drum breakdown. To the uninitiated, this may sound great. But it sounded better on Phil Collins’ record. Sorry Ke$ha you lost me on that track.
The regular edition ends on that. The deluxe edition attempts to apologize for that last missstep with four bonus songs.
“Last Goodbye” is a bit more rock tinged stomp-along track about young first love and trying to make it together. It’s a nice chance to see Ke$ha outside of party mode. But next is the trashterpiece of the album, “Gold Trans Am”. It’s a mix of bastardized “We Will Rock You”, “Back In Black”, and sleazy pop-country a la a drunken Shania Twain, mixed with Ke$ha’s now signature rapping. It’s the perfect blend of familiar party music and filthy euphemisms. And “mustache rides”. This level of sleaziness is something Ke$ha does way better than her pop peers. Then we go full on club trance with (no one’s gettin’) “Out Alive”. It sounds like here she steals a piece of melody from Katy Perry’s “Teenage Dream” the way Katy may have stolen “Tik Tok” for “California Gurls” (play the choruses back to back!). “Past Lives” is a much better ending to the album, with an echoey sparse beat, and an acoustic guitar melody, and… The Flaming Lips! Duetting with Ke$ha… and it sounds great! And the credits reveal the strings that come sweeping in are conducted by Ben Folds! Because even alternative rock folks gotta have fun sometimes.
So for a good time call Ke$ha. I’m sure she’d want it that way.
Check out some great videos from the album:
“Gold Trans Am” (Lyric Video):