Smart Pick of the Day: Ke$ha, “Stephen”

Much like her name itself, my fondness for Ke$ha/Kesha is twofold. On a superficial, visceral level, the snotbag partyboy in me relishes her trashy diva aesthetic and brain-cell-killing music (perhaps that’s “KeDollarSignHa”). But on a deeper, more intellectual level, I harbor an inordinate amount of respect for her place in the pop industry (reflected in her recent post-rehab reversion to “KeSha”).

From the moment her messily mascaraed eyes emerged from that bathtub in the “Tik Tok” video, Kesha seemed poised to redefine pop music, with a renewed commitment to lowbrow, the dancefloor, and tunes so infuriatingly catchy they really only require one listen. She was out-sassing Pink, out-strutting Katy, out-partying everyone. I mean, poor Avril Lavigne, right? The fact that Kesha wrote “Till The World Ends” – a tremendous electropop hit – but then handed it to Britney Spears, demonstrates an acknowledgment of where top 40 girly music comes from, and of where it’s going.

Her last album, Warrior, served more of her trademark DGAF-ery; “C’Mon“, in my opinion, is an instant classic. But I’m worried (just so, so worried) that Kesha is being pigeonholed as the superstar with the white trash aesthetic. And furthermore (really, I lose sleep at night) this narrow-minded approach is preventing Kesha’s songwriting talent from truly taking off. Were she allowed to tap into the kind of existential drama of Sia, or Robyn’s dancey mysticism, or even Beyoncé’s powerfully dignified brand of diva, she could be unstoppable.

Don’t think for a second Kesha’s drunk partygirl act is anything other than a cunning marketing ploy. Now she needs to rebrand and expand that image, or risk becoming out of touch (ahem, Gaga). If her next album consists of much of the same rollicking filth, I’m going to be disappointed. I’m going to be dancing my ass off, but I’m going to be disappointed. You only need to see the video above to know she’s cleverer than that.

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