“Anyone who would spell their name with ‘$’ in it deserves scorn.” — Alexi Helligar
Words of the week so far, courtesy of my big brother. Not that Ke$ha gives a hoot what Alexi or I think. She’s an American idol who, in the last few years, has made more money than all my Facebook friends combined (minus Moby, who I’m sure is a lot richer than she is) will probably see in a lifetime.
But my God, her music! I’ve spent most of her time in the spotlight deriding her because of it. While I suspect that she and I might actually get along in real life (any woman who’d brush her teeth with a bottle of Jack Daniel’s is no lady, which is exactly how I like them), I just haven’t been able to hop aboard the Ke$ha train and stay on it. Yes, I’ve stuck around for a stop or two: One drunken night in the Prince of Wales in Melbourne two years ago, I actually found myself dancing to “Take It Off” and loving it (the dancing, not the song), and although “Blow” blows, the video was one of my favorite clips of 2011, the best thing James Van Der Beek has done since before Dawson’s Creek! But when all is said and sung, I’d rather walk.
How is it possible, I’ve asked myself numerous times since “Tik Tok,” can the spawn of the woman (Patricia Rose Sebert) who cowrote Dolly Parton’s great 1980 No. 1 country hit “Old Flames Can’t Hold a Candle to You” spawn such crap? You can’t choose your family, but thank God, you can choose which of their songs end up in your iPod!
Then along came “Die Young,” the first single from Warrior, Ke$ha’s second full-length studio album, which is out December 4, just in time to ruin my holidays. To be completely honest, “Die Young” doesn’t sound much unlike what’s come before it. There’s the same lazy rapping-singing vocals, canned electro-pop beats and youth-gone-wild pose, and the under-the-strobelight riff was lifted right off of Taio Cruz’s “Dynamite,” or Flo Rida’s “Good Feeling,” both of which share a co-songwriter and co-producer (Dr. Luke) with “Die Young.” Ke$ha still sounds like she’s wasted on the Jack she gargles with. Maybe it’s not her, it’s me. I’m in a great mood this week, so I’d like anything, maybe even Rihanna’s underwhelming “Diamonds” the next time I hear it.
But seriously, I think it’s the song. The only thing that will stop it from going to No. 1 (it just debuted at No. 13, three notches above Rihanna’s “Diamonds” and way above the apparent No. 34 peak of Christina Aguilera’s “Your Body”) is Adele’s “Skyfall.” Ke$ha had me at hello with this one. From the moment she sings the first line, “I hear your heart beat to the beat of the drum,” and it’s punctuated by a synthetic drum beat, I’m totally in.
Its MVPF (most valuable production flourish) is the marching beat that underscores the rest of the chorus, building the tension and the spark, making it one of the most exhilarating ones I’ve heard all year. The verses are standard issue Ke$ha (in other words, kind of lame), but in the hands of the right remixer, one with a stronger rock & roll sensibility than Dr. Luke, the entire song could end up rocking harder and better than anything on Pink’s new album, including that too-tame Eminem duet.
Does it make me want to die young? Not a chance. But it almost makes me want to change my name just so that I can stick a “$” in it.