Locked on Ke$ha
I’m not exactly the most ‘up-to-date’ person in the world. Now by saying this, I mean that if there’s a brand new song that’s tearing up the charts or a super-controversial/salivation-inducing new video going viral or a new saying bouncing its merry way among the excitable ‘youth of today’ such as ‘that’s mint’ or ‘aw man that’s so sick’, I’m probably not savvy to it until it’s:
A. A year old
B. One of my friends uses it and I stare blankly until they smile pitifully and explain it
C. It’s painfully uncool now and I’m still unaware. And usually, not really arsed with it.
To put it in basic terminology – I am a 22 year-old student, and I am so not down with the kids. I don’t know much about what song/recording artist/group is the hot new thing, I don’t watch music channels and I don’t go clubbing.
Now you may read this with some sadness thinking ‘My god, she must be some kind of college loser who never goes out’, but let me assure you, I am fantastic. Joking. I just don’t see the point in following what’s deemed to be cool if I like something completely different.
My love lies with old rock/metal/blues/punk/jazz, I read (and partake in art) and clubbing is not for me because it’s sweaty and packed and I can’t bring my easel in without getting weird looks. I went to visit my sister (in Holland) in the last week of July and would spend some of the days while she was in work watching the music channels for a source of entertainment, and so stumbled across a music video for Ke$ha’s song ‘Blow’, fully believing this was a brand new track from a singer I’d only heard described as ‘skanky/dirty/sleazy’.
To be honest, I thought those words were apt as the only songs I’d heard from her were auto-tuned electropop aural sodomy with lyrics that seemed to celebrate the debaucherous and vile lifestyle of my bored and horny generation. The first song I’d heard was ‘Tik Tok’ and I thought she sounded like she was going to climax and fall asleep at the same time.
The lyrics alone made me want to avoid her music like the plague I thought she may have had. Judgmental? Oh, so much. This was back in 2009.
I’d heard about two others songs after that, and was wholly unimpressed, until I realized something. Her bloody songs were infectious. I may not have liked hearing the almost lazy yodel-like noise pumping from her lungs, but I couldn’t get it out of my head. Soon I was You-tubing the songs just to hear them, grinding my teeth when I realised I actually enjoyed this! Now before you think ‘Oh of course, the rock music enthusiast would naturally hate the pop genre’, let me be honest. I love music in general.
If there is true talent and pure emotion in the song, chances are I will love it, regardless of genre. So when it comes to pop or softer rock, I can still like it. I didn’t like Ke$ha because in my mind she was a filthy skank promoting promiscuity and alcohol poisoning to an already impressionable set of people: Twenty-year olds. Yes, I know, I sound like a lunatic. But this was what we call ‘surface impressions’. Book being judged by cover etc.
I had the same feelings for Lady Gaga when I first heard her stuff, but I admitted the woman had talent regardless of her dubious lyrics. I eventually realised that this is the stuff people want to hear when out clubbing, hammered on the dance floor with one arm around your best friend and the other waving some sort of glowstick while moving like your life depended on it. This music may speak of filthy antics and regrettable choices, but it’s not like you weren’t going to do it anyway. It’s not like the song suddenly made you go ‘Ah! If (insert popular singer) wants us to do it, we must do it!’.
I finally caved when I realized that this sort of wild, party-til-you’re dead music is perfect for working out, and so I left my moral high ground rotting in the shit-heap of High-Horse-Land where it belonged (let’s face it, I sounded like some sort of prudish weirdo who thinks it’s not the people who do it but the music that says, therefore becoming the crazy person who thinks music is evil, and that’s just not me) and bought Ke$ha’s EP ‘Cannibal’.
I listened to it and noticed that beyond the lyrics I’d once furrowed my brow at and slightly twitch-inducing auto-tune, the songs are damn good. ‘Your Love Is My Drug’ is an upbeat, joyful summer-song that captures that teenage feeling of being so crazy about somebody that you almost feel addicted to them, that when they aren’t around you feel withdrawal, you become this moody dry-shite, but instantly perk up and feel your heart swell at the mere thought of them. It’s a celebratory song that actually makes me chirpy every time I hear it.
Then there’s ‘Tik Tok’, which I originally hated but now find puts a spring in my step, makes me upbeat and ready to take on the day, even at 7am. One of my new favourites is ‘We R Who We R’, a catchy anthem with an addictive beat and melody to it that just snakes its way around your brain and leaves itself there until you cave and listen to it again.
After getting my first fix of the album, I looked up Ke$ha to see her background and what it is that makes her this electric personality and ended up surprised and impressed, and humbled. She comes from a single-parent family and initially had to live off food stamps and welfare payments, then spent her childhood sticking out like a sore thumb in school because she was so unconventional and different. She’s had musical influence since she was a toddler as her mother is a singer-songwriter, and had her vocal talents noticed during her early teenage years, eventually leading to her dropping out of school at 17 to move to Los Angeles to fully pursue a career in music. During this time she waited tables, which led to her replacing the ‘S’ in her name with the dollar sign as an ironic twist;
I was so happy being broke. And I’m happy not being broke. It doesn’t really affect me either way. I care about taking care of people that have taken care of me – that’s important to me. But to be honest, I’m kind of repulsed by the gluttony and excesses of a lot of people in the limelight.
After reading this quote, I realised that so many people critique her, denounce her and run her down (myself included, in the past) as if she’s just another trashy singer getting high on fame and money and sings about it because it’s all she knows. So many people think she’s just like the others, singing about all they have and how great they are and all of the filthy exploits they can do, but it’s just the opposite.
Having the life she had, growing up being so different, earning her way up the food chain and not changing who she is because it’s what’s expected when you become mainstream has made her this phenomenal person who realistically is a role model in some ways. She stuck to her guns and made the music she wanted to make, she kept her look that others called ‘dirty’ because she didn’t want to be all glammed up like so many other female artists; she wanted to look like how she is.
She’s unashamed of the content of her music and expresses herself through her look, not once acting pretentious and holier-than-thou because she’s just being herself, and after all, how great is that? I’m glad that I sat and watched her bizarre video for ‘Blow’, and I’m glad that I bought her EP, and I’m glad that I looked up who she is and where she came from, because it enlightened me to so many things, one of which is that she’s truly a diamond in the rough.
She stands out so much, even if it may ruffle other people’s feathers, but is unapologetic and unwavering in her ways, much like Lady Gaga, much like Madonna, much like Dolly Parton. All of them fell under criticism for their music, their looks, their life (or what people believed was their life), all of them were judged unfairly, and all of them still stuck it out and battled on and shone through because all of them had talent and guts and determination, which is certainly what Ke$ha has. In bucket-loads.
The next time you see a music video or hear a song or see a performer that you might have originally fobbed off because you thought to yourself ‘Ah that’s shite’ when only hearing them once, barely, just stop for a second. Find out the name of the artist or the group or the song and give it a fair listen, and if you like it, do what I did. Go buy the album, look up the background and find yourself delighted that you found a gem just because you gave the dirt a chance.