By Beth Rowe
Ke$ha has been released.
The former Britney Spears back-up singer’s debut album, Animal, parties on with an endless rave of electro-pop beats and transparent alcohol metaphors that possess all the sophistication of an episode of MTV’s “Jersey Shore.”
Since the release of her hit single, “TiK ToK,” in 2009, Ke$ha’s party girl chants have been dominating the radio. With a sound that compares to a combination of Lady Gaga, a trashier Miley Cyrus , and Alvin and the Chipmunks (she’s squeaky, okay? ), Ke$ha has been tackling the tough issues most important to a generation of youth caught in the whirlwind of an economic disaster: booze, boys, and parties.
As for her spoken rhythm white-girl rap, it fully complements her albums’ party girl theme, because quite frankly, it sounds like she may have downed a few “bottles of Jack” before stepping into the recording studio.
In “Stephen,” a track that utilizes synthesizer harmonies that trace the thin border of love ballad and N*SYNC cover, Ke$ha mixes the muses of a heartbroken, emotionally underdeveloped teenager (“Stephen, don’t you think I’m pretty? Do you not love me? Is that why you won’t call me?”) with seemingly irrelevant information (“I’ll knit you a sweater”…uhh, okay?).
Her collaboration with electro-hop, dance pop group 30H!3, “Blah Blah Blah,” reaches new musical heights. By the time this track rolls around, Ke$ha decides that the beauty of her music transcends lyrics, and instead of writing words, decides to just sing random vowels, while throwing in a few lines about casual hook-ups and objectifying men (it’s like ironic rap!).
As the album progresses, Ke$ha steps away from the clubs (sort of…) to tackle some serious stuff. She deals with tough break-ups in power ballad “Dancing with Tears in My Eyes.” As you can see, Ke$ha cannot stand to be away from the parties, but she’s still super-sad about it. The pathos is overwhelming. This song revolves around more of the same by capturing the overused cliché of associating the end of a relationship with the end of one’s life. In this way, Ke$ha connects to her younger audience via the same (although admittedly more self-destructive) route of Taylor Swift. Ke$ha cannot survive without you, nameless boyfriend!
Animal does, however, have its highlights.
The lead single, “TiK ToK,” is undeniably catchy. Try as one might to deny its charms, it gets stuck in your head. And once it’s there, no way it’s getting back out. On the plus side, it’s high energy and great to dance to. From its quotable lyrics (“’Cause the party doesn’t start ‘til I walk in” ) to its questionable but enthusiastic vocals, “TiK ToK” has become the anthem of the year.
The title track, though somewhat distorted by an overdone techno beat, boasts a lively performance of relatable (and fairly wholesome) lyrics. As the last song, its theme of ending, “I am in love with what we are, not what we should be,” and making the most, “So if it’s just tonight, the animal inside, let it live and die,” resonates with listeners of all ages. And, as usual, it is very danceable.
Ke$ha’s music follows a simple principle: escapism. Similar to TV shows like “Gossip Girl,” Animal‘s popularity can be attributed to a younger generation’s desire to escape to a foreign world, where boys are toys, liquor is free, and Mick Jagger is actually considered attractive. I like to call this magical place “Ke$haLand.”
If I had any reason to suspect that Ke$ha had incentive to make a statement, I might consider Animal to be an introspective viewpoint of American youth and mainstream: the worse things get, the harder we party. No money, no problem. Materialism is our creed.
However, after seeing her music video for “TiK ToK,” that idea has been irreversibly stricken from my mind. For those of you who haven’t seen it, she spends the majority of her time partying in a car with a hillbilly. Besides, I mean, she spells her name with a dollar symbol. Come on.
In Animal, America’s newest “singing” sensation serenades us with her message of bubbly teenage love, hedonism, and poor decisions. However, Ke$ha’s incredibly rare displays of dubious talent give her debut some salvages of solid entertainment.
Although I would not recommend this album to more critical ears, Animal is undeniably fun and goofy. Even with kitsch-crunk flops like “Take It Off” and an odd, crossover throwback to her Tennessee roots in “Boots and Boys,” Ke$ha’s wacky side saves the CD in songs like “Dinosaur” and “Party at a Rich Dude’s House.”
Animal may not be a work of art, and I sincerely hope that it is not the future of mainstream music. But if you’re looking for a party, Ke$ha brings the goods.