Ke$ha’s “Animal” a bad hangover

By Kayla Roux

Ke$ha, the dishevelled princess of intoxicated pop is better known for her ruckus partying style than her musical aptitude. This fact, however, did not inhibit the sale of millions upon millions of her debut album, Animal, released by RCA Records in January this year.

Following the release of singles such as TiK ToK and Blah Blah Blah, Animal was received with screams of excitement from preteen party-girls all over the world who were delighted with this album of fifteen exhausted electro-hits. Although pop is not my favourite genre, I have genuinely enjoyed the work of many of Ke$ha’s contemporaries. Unfortunately, this does not apply to the poorly selected, poorly performed, and poorly recorded work of Ke$ha.

Ke$ha, whose signature style relies heavily on tousled, grimy hairstyles, a chewed-down manicure and the shockingly excessive use of glitter and face paint, was first introduced to the world of hip-hop with her appearance in Flo Rida’s hit single Right Round in 2009. When some of her earlier demo material was leaked on the internet, Ke$ha was rumoured by some critics to be the next to follow in the footsteps of “hip-hop rude girls” such as Salt ‘n Pepa and L’Trimm with originality in all their sharp, merciless and plain-old foul-mouthed excellence. The nauseating, syrupy teenybopper anthems of Animal, however, were a severe disappointment to these wishful thinkers.

Leaning heavily on technical hocus-pocus and what sounds like robots having epileptic fits, Ke$ha does little to display her vocal capabilities in tracks such as Hungover, in which her tedious refrains are barely audible through bourbon-soaked vocals. When she drops her signature drunken lilt for songs such as sickly sweet Boots & Boys, however, she achieves little more than to evoke tired, run-of-the-mill replicas of Katy Perry or Taylor Swift only auto-tuned and vocoded into oblivion. When Ke$ha is not rhyme-rapping or heaving into the microphone, she is shrieking like the shrill and obnoxious Valley Girl she is.

There are, however, a few tracks on Animal that might deserve a more sympathetic ear. Stephen, for  example, is reminiscent of the catchy, energetic girl-pop that has propelled some of Ke$ha’s peers, such as Miley Cyrus and Demi Lovato, into fame. Backstabber, on the other hand, has some fierce, mischievous and cheeky arrangements that would not be out of place playing at a 90s schoolyard dance-off.

Dancing with Tears in my Eyes had me checking that I was still listening to Animal with its tinny, acoustic sound and honest vocals, it is completely out of place in this album that seems to be personified by the sneer of the American brat. This does not, however, mean that it was good. A closer listen to this seemingly sincere, country-inspired track reveals little more than a thinly veiled attempt at variety and depth that fails dismally.

Where Animal is lacking in technical fortitude, it fails to make up in lyrical or thematic content. In true Ke$ha style, she fritters away precious minutes of her debut album with truly uninspired numbers such as Party at a Rich Dude’s House and Take it Off. These tracks, which are based on personal experiences such as vomiting in the shrubbery outside a friend’s house, are inappropriately packaged as irresistible tween attractions. If Animal is an autobiographical work, then drunken debauchery, sexual frivolity, a complete disregard for moral values and a lack of self-respect on all fronts seem to be recurring themes in Ke$ha’s life. Much is also left to be desired with lyrics along the lines of “blah, blah, blah / nah, nah, nah” and “dance until your pants come off”.

Ke$ha and her debut album, which exalts with trashy magnificence the “living for the weekend”-mentality and can get the party started well enough, are a fascinating sociological peek into the psyche of the modern American brat. They are also, ultimately, a pointless waste of time.

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