Release Date: Dec 4, 2012
Record label: RCA
Genre(s): Pop, Pop/Rock, Dance-Pop, Party Rap
Ke$ha was born to be a rock star. She's a disco queen who dresses like Axl Rose and overdoses on personality like the New York Dolls. She rules pop radio with her megasleaze boombox beats, junk-shop rags and bleached-Sabbath hair. We all know glitter girls who dress like Ke$ha, talk like Ke$ha, party like Ke$ha and slap the world around like Ke$ha.
There were two paths Ke$ha could've followed on her second album, Warrior. She could've tried a respectable street, sticking a pen in her heart so her feelings would pour onto the page, or she could have not changed a note, replicating the glitter-bomb of Animal. Cannily, she decided to split the difference between these two routes, remaining defiant in her tastelessness but flashing just enough depth to show she's not a passing fad.
There are nuclear bombs with more subtlety than Ke$ha. High goddess of bombast, queen bee of the obnoxious, debut album Animal was greeted with equal amounts love and disgust from music fans of all genres. Is she manufactured, or all her own creation? Deadly serious with her unbrushed hair, facepaint and failure to 'sing pretty', or playing a gigantic joke on us all? Becoming such a polarising figure was undoubtedly a huge achievement for Ke$ha, an artist utterly determined to get up the noses of absolutely everyone who might have beef with a young woman talking about drinking, partying and sexing it up.
Love her or hate her, Ke$ha always inspires some good debates. Her defenders say she’s a pop rebel who tweaks sexual double standards. (Well, she does call a guy a ”slut” on her new album, Warrior. Feminism!) Her detractors say she’s a shameless promoter of boozy toothbrushing, no better than a frat boy.
As a colleague of mine recently noted, you have to be really smart to make music this dumb. Ke$ha has become incredibly ubiquitous in an extremely short amount of time, everything about her screaming “manufactured pop diva” but a surprisingly small amount of these criticisms actually holding water (or in her case, whiskey). As easy as it is for people to mock her hedonistic sorority-girl party jams (and it is incredibly easy—and fun, to boot!), Ke$ha has done something that few other dance divas have done in the course of their entire careers: she’s crafted a wholly unique identity and personality for herself, and in the increasingly crowded realm of soundalike pop radio, it’s that very thing that has helped make her stand out.
Phil Collins's “In the Air Tonight” appeared on a couple of ballots—including mine, briefly—for Slant's Best Singles of the 1980s earlier this year. The song didn't make the final cut, but it seems we're not the only ones who are fans of the bucket banger's 1981 arena ballad, as Ke$ha—or, rather, the Bird and the Bee's Greg Kurstin—lifted it wholesale for “Love Into the Light,” the closing track on the pop singer's sophomore long player, Warrior. It's one of several moments on the album that genuinely attempt to expand Ke$ha's limited sonic palette, which would be surprising if she hadn't been boasting to the press about her personal and creative growth, to say nothing of her promise of inventing a new genre, which she's coined “cock pop.
It's always tricky when top-40 pop stars incorporate "what they really listen to" into their music. For glitter queen Ke$ha, this means not only adopting a hard-drinkin', hard-screwin' classic rock attitude, as she did on her debut, but also lifting her no-guitars ban, with help from the Black Keys' Patrick Carney, the Flaming Lips' Wayne Coyne and the Strokes' Julian Casablancas and Fabrizio Moretti. Wisely, Ke$ha's producers ditch the grab-bag approach in favour of coherency.
Since her last album proper, 2010's Animal, lurid chart-pop siren Kesha has been behaving oddly – befriending Iggy Pop and Alice Cooper; giving blood to the Flaming Lips. A little grit has rubbed off. Dirty Love is a roustabout rock tune, featuring an amusing intercession from Iggy, while Supernatural essays a little tokenistic dubstep. Really, though, her graceless output remains unaffected.
Having sold 3m copies of her 2010 debut album, Animal, self-styled bad girl Kesha Sebert has decided not to fix what ain't broke. Warrior is basically the same product as Animal but with added effing and blinding. With or without swearing, her blunt-force pop, mainly produced by the emperor of strident electronica, Dr Luke, offers more pain than pleasure.
Kesha’s not dangerous. She plays at being a terrible influence — drinking, sex, swearing, hard nights at the club — but the furtive surprise at the center of her project is sweetness, as it always was. “Warrior” (RCA), her second full-length album, contains a very nonlethal competitive ambition. She’s coming at her targets in a bumper car, rear-ending them and laughing and, with a weird consistency, philosophizing.
Ke$ha's trademark trashiness is disturbingly infectious. Nick Levine 2012 Back in 2009, when she released her debut single TiK ToK, Ke$ha presented herself as wilfully trashy. Here was a pop singer who'd inserted a dollar sign into her stage name and sang about brushing her teeth with a bottle of whiskey. However, her debut album Animal turned out to be against-the-odds enjoyable.