Based on what I’ve had to say about pop music so far, you’d probably think I hate it. On the contrary, I love pop music. The problem is that so little of it is actually good. I can stand derivative. I can stand manufactured. I can even stand trashy music that has no redeeming value. I actually prefer it. This is probably my favorite origin story of any current pop singer:
At Conway Studio where Luke works in Hollywood, he plays me two songs from the Ke$ha demo, each striking for different reasons. The first is a gorgeously sung, self-penned country ballad that hints at what could’ve been had Ke$ha pursued a different path. The other is a gobsmackingly awful trip-hop track. But at one point toward the end, Ke$ha runs out of lyrics and starts rapping, for a full minute or so: “I’m a white girl/From the ‘Ville/Nashville, bitch. Uhh. Uhhhhh.”
Luke and his producer friends were smitten by this bit of screwball-gangsta improv. His face lights up even now as he remembers. “That’s when I was like, ‘OK, I like this girl’s personality. When you’re listening to 100 CDs, that kind of bravado and chutzpah stand out.”
The first Ke$ha song I heard was Tik Tok. It’s not a great song. I thought it was a ham-handed mashup of Fergie and Pink. But there was something different about it. I didn’t get her until I heard We R Who We R:
It’s fucking terrible music. Her makeup, her clothes- ridiculous. This will give some of my uptight punk rock buddies a rash, but she makes me think of this:
we began for the first time to hear the NY Dolls. I was shocked by how bad they were. How much it hurt my ears! And then I started to laugh – laugh at how stupid I was. How bad they were. Bad enough to be good. By the fourth or fifth track, I thought they were so, so bad, they were brilliant.- Malcolm McLaren
I’ve always loved the bad, the ridiculous. Ke$ha is a big fuck you to everyone who wants their pop stars a combination of model hot, flawless singer and great dancer. Her new album Warrior, isn’t quite as inspired as her first- it seems like she wants to move on from the party hits and hasn’t quite managed to do it yet. We’ll see where she goes from here, but for now, she’s number one in my book.