In the world of Nickelback and Kings of Leon, what distinguishes true artistry? The answer to this question is unknowable, but I can know that Ke$ha doesn’t have it.
Ke$ha’s debut album opens with an expression of self-doubt: “Maybe I need some rehab.” But through Animal’s 14 tracks, which reek of texts from last night and QPac, I got a sense that even rehab wouldn’t be enough to clean Ke$ha up.
Animal is nothing short of vulgar. At times, she has her “drunk text on,” at other times she’s “gettin so smashed / knockin over trash cans.” “Hungover,” a ballad, represents a misguided stab at poetry, featuring hearts “as broken as the bottles on the floor.” The title of “Party at a Rich Dude’s House” would be gross enough on its own if the song didn’t actually mention puking in his closet.
It’s strange that someone like Ke$ha should become so popular, for she really embodies the worst in all of us. She’s that girl that’s too drunk (and is letting you know), or whose ass is hanging out despite the sub-freezing temps or who is making out with every man (and woman?) in sight, thinking she’s sexy.
And this is where Ke$ha really misses the mark. “TiK ToK” is a novelty, a fun(ish, I actually hate this song, too) glimpse into the lifestyle of a trashy, out-of-control 19-year-old. Fourteen Tik Toks does not an album make, and yet Ke$ha spends over an hour without a noticeable departure from this mode, carrying the themes of broken bottles and intoxication throughout the album.
I fully understand that what Ke$ha’s doing is just for shits and giggles and that she’s not to be taken too seriously, yet I can’t help but wonder what else she could have shown. Occasionally Animal provides glimpses of the album that could have been, hints of a talent suppressed in favor of the party-girl persona. The final track (“Animal”) plays like an mashup of The Postal Service and Katy Perry (which under typical circumstances could hardly be considered a good thing), and yet its lyrics seem to suggest a uncharacteristic (and welcome) rejection of the Toad’s lifestyle, for some reason it still sucks a whole lot.
I think the problems I have with Animal come down to the fact that Ke$ha’s just filthy-gross n’ stanky. Being too drunk isn’t funny, throwing up in a closet is revolting and Mick Jagger is actually really old and nasty. If any of those sound appealing to you, Ke$ha’s your girl.