Friday, November 6th, 2009

Ke$ha – Tik Tok

Now her head’s stopped spinning…


Chuck Eddy: Fun goofy rapping about bad dental-care habits that will be even funner to like if haters hate on it.

Alex Macpherson: Defending trashy paeans to getting wasted used to be so much fun, but it seems you can’t even get decent quality famewhores in 2009. It feels too obvious to call Ke$ha the destitute man’s Lady Gaga, even if it is accurate; you suspect she’d embrace that label, anyway. No: to fully appreciate how terrible this woman is, you need to know that she makes Uffie — remember her? Ed Banger’s resident “rapper” for about two minutes in 2006? — appear talented. Ke$ha lurches from dated argot to unconvincing posing, displaying a near-total lack of wit, rhythm and attitude along the way. Did Paris Hilton and Tila Tequila suffer all those hangovers in vain?

Renato Pagnani: Like slogging through shit to get to slog through piss.

Keane Tzong: This slots in almost perfectly next to “Party in the U.S.A.” in my playlists. Yes, that is praise.

Anthony Easton: Delicious as a roofie in a peanut butter chocolate milkshake.

Tal Rosenberg: The drums push the voice into zeros and ones, the keyboards over the edge of linearity, the party to the end. The “s” in her name is a dollar sign, and she brushes her teeth with Jack Daniel’s. That could be a 9, and the clock rockin’ is like Flava Flav and Bill Haley in one. But there’s not enough of the (great) verses, and there’s too much of the chorus, which makes the song a little less dynamite than it could be.

Martin Kavka: A recent commenter to the video wrote “Like Taylor Swift…but on drugs.” That’s not just about the physical resemblance. They’re both hard workers, and Ke$ha can even be a good lyricist — she co-wrote The Veronicas’ “This Love” — although she’s not on Swift’s level. Yet in desperation, Ke$ha’s gone for the lowest common denominator here, like a bad Lindsay Lohan drag queen. t’s still fun, thanks to Lukasz Gottwald’s production (better than “Love Me or Hate Me,” worse than “About You Now”). But I do hope when this single goes to #1, Ke$ha takes it as permission to stop pandering.

Matt Cibula: About as believable as a love letter from Jon Gosselin (airhead alkie girls still get it up for Mick Jagger?), and I am pissed that the infinitely awesomer Brooke Valentine seems to have disappeared from the face of the Earth. But I vaguely like the mechanical funk that seems to have been inspired by the eponymous L. Frank Baum character, always my favorite.

Ian Mathers: I think I might actually like this production/melody with another singer, but something about Ke$ha’s vocals – not just her word choice, but the actual tone of her voice (and no, I’m not just talking about the annoying, pro forma AutoTuning) just enrages me. It’s a voice that reeks of unearned privilege, of a painfully unreflective life focused on only the most transient and pathetic things, of someone who thinks her magpie-like appropriation of bits of cultural vocabulary is clever; basically, of someone who dropped out of school at seventeen to pursue the most shallow version of shame possible. She was okay on “Right Round,” and I almost wish it was clearer then how excruciatingly annoying she is.

Frank Kogan: Happy bratty party girl with a predictably sassy attitude and a good but not great Luke tune, her fun mannerisms are more forced and overbearing and vastly less effective than those of antecedents like Salt-N-Pepa and L’Trimm, though my letting her into the same sentence as them means I’m crossing my fingers in hope for her future.

25 Responses to “Ke$ha – Tik Tok”

  1. She’d be much better with about 30% less P!nk in her voice/attitude in the chorus. Can’t believe I’m saying it, but she needs MORE GAGA. Or at least a few moves from Megan McCauley’s playbook, now that she (Megan) has disowned it.

    Digging seeing Dr. Luke’s name written out as Lukasz, though! That would make him Läkare Lukasz, I think (Jessica P to thread?)

    Hey, whattaya know, this song is basically a 7. Moderately enjoyable times.


    …couplet of the century?

  3. How does that couplet even stand out after half a decade of crunk/junk/drunk lyrics. Also, how does Ke$ha manage to fail to convince at something so basic. Am pining for the halcyon days of Tila Tequila’s “I Like To Fuck” here.

  4. Oh, I was in no means trying to say that it actually does stand out, but, predictably, it is still my favorite part of the song.

  5. Hang on, no, the best comparison is actually from this year – this is basically just a terrible version of Paradiso Girls’ “Patron Tequila”, which is also completely shamelessly trashy but actually makes me want to go and get crunk myself. If I was hosting a house party, I would invite Paradiso Girls and Electrik Red and Paris Hilton and Tila Tequila, and halfway through we would have to throw Ke$ha, who no one would have actually invited, out of the house in disgust for pissing in the sink.

    Ian is sooooo wrong about why Ke$ha sucks, btw: “unearned privilege…a painfully unreflective life focused on only the most transient and pathetic things…someone who thinks her magpie-like appropriation of bits of cultural vocabulary is clever; basically, of someone who dropped out of school at seventeen to pursue the most shallow version of shame possible” – aren’t you so much better than those slutty party girls! No, all of that is fantastic subject matter for pop. And Ke$ha sucks because she can’t even do that well.

  6. Did Lil’ Jon do the beat of “Patron Tequila?” I like the production, but the lyrics are so repetitive, and not in any sort of hypnotic way, but in the “please turn this song off” way.

    I don’t hear the unearned privilege that Ian refers to, and I certainly don’t see it in the video, where she’s down and out in an alley getting picked up by a guy, getting arrested over the hood of a car, waking up and not knowing where she is, rinsing her teeth with Jack Daniel’s (considerably less expensive than Patron, which is shockingly pricey). Granted, the tone of the song and the video is considerably lighter and fluffier than that, but the beat hits really hard in a stomp that definitely reminds me of GaGa, but there’s a weird split between fun and utter despondency here that makes for a pretty strong contradiction, I think.

  7. I understand now how all the Brits felt about Pixie Lott, and I apologize.

  8. Then again, what Tal said: there’s a weird split between fun and utter despondency here that makes for a pretty strong contradiction, I think. Although it’s less present in the song, which opens with girls getting pedicures and trying on multiple outfits, the video, at least, is about a homeless kid — she sleeps in people’s bathtubs, for God’s sake, and when she slips out in the morning, she just goes and sits in the street, picking up guys, killing time till the next party, killing time till she finds another place to crash. None of which really hit me till the bridge, where both the song and the video stop pretending like being drunk and poor is cool, and get all transcendent about how the DJ builds her up and breaks her down, and she’s got her hands up and she’s asking you to put yours up too, let’s stop and feel this together. Which is probably what knowing this kid is like, too — she seems fun, she’s talking tough, but maybe out on the dance floor you get a glimpse of what’s really going on, but then she’s right back to being the party girl again.

    As far as I know Ke$ha herself is not, and has never been, homeless — which makes Ian right, on one hand: she’s playing at being poor and fucked-up because she thinks there’s something cool and glamorous about it. But on the other hand, what a heartbreaking little character to choose to play, even if you’re choosing it unconsciously, without reflection.

  9. …And choosing it unconsciously on Ke$ha’s part mirrors the unconscious desires of the character Ke$ha plays within the song, so there are all sorts of layers to peel apart here: Ke$ha the pop star unconsciously playing the unconscious and unconscionable Ke$ha character. Plus, I think it’s unclear as to whether Ke$ha has a firm grasp on what she is or isn’t playing at: Whether or not she thinks being poor and homeless is particularly cool or particularly heartbreaking, or maybe that there are a mess of contradictions in either.

  10. Choosing it unconsciously? Bullshit. She’s a songwriter guys, as has been noted.

    Aww, lex, and here I thought we were on the same side! You and Tal are missing what it is I hate though – I don’t particularly think that Ke$ha herself suffers from unearned privilege or what have you, and even then I’m not against unearned privilege per se. What I hate is that there’s something in her voice that I just can’t get around. Give this exact set of music and lyrics to another female singer of her demographic type, and I’d probably like this just fine – I don’t have any ideological problem with the song at all until I hear that voice, which for whatever visceral, irrational reasons, makes me hate a bunch of stuff that I normally like.

    So basically, when you say “No, all of that is fantastic subject matter for pop. And Ke$ha sucks because she can’t even do that well” we’re in total agreement. I just articulated it differently, because part of what’s disturbing to me about the (again, totally irrational and personal and frankly kind of baffling) hate I feel for this song is that it makes me feel so fucking reactionary! And that has very little to do with her lyrics/choice of subject matter/whatever and everything to do with my visceral experience of her voice. I DON’T general think I’m better than “these slutty party girls” (or whatever disenfranchised/’disenfranchised’/whatever group you’d like to sub in), either in pop music or in real life when I run into them in bars and clubs. But this song makes me feel like I am, and that’s fucking horrible.

    In retrospect/upon thinking all this out, I think that means I ought to have given this a 0.

  11. general = generally, whoops!

  12. But Ian, can’t you see how that’s not Ke$ha’s problem, it’s yours? And there is nothing at all wrong with making the two indistinguishable from each other, but it’s not like Ke$ha put a gun to your head and said, “Behave in a reactionary manner.”

  13. I mean, in your blurb you’re reading into all of these character flaws and faults in her upbringing simply judging by [i]the way her voice sounds[/i], which is totally possible but when the music and the lyrics don’t sound (to me at least) like they’re matching up to the life story that you’ve drawn out, then you’re on some serious Sherlock Holmes-style farsighted guesswork that I’m just not picking up on.

  14. Choosing it unconsciously? Bullshit. She’s a songwriter guys, as has been noted.

    Oh, come on.

    “Choosing it unconsciously” doesn’t mean she was literally unconscious when the song was written, like these words fell out of the sky and into her mouth while she was passed out in a gutter — it means that while she chose to embody this character, she may not have thought much about why she chose it, why she identified with it or glamorized it or felt it would make her more marketable. It means that though she made the choice, she may have been, as you put it, unreflective.

    I don’t think she’s a “songwriter” any more than Avril Lavigne or Katy Perry are “songwriters,” though.

  15. Oh, maybe I do agree with Ian a bit then, because the timbre of her voice is one of the reasons this song repels me as well. But it’s part and parcel with the clumsily written song and terrible, undanceable beat. I mean, if you’re going to yell about getting crunk, give us a beat that we can actually get crunk to! This is not hard.

    I’m quite glad I haven’t seen the video. A homeless girl, for real? :o

  16. So did I miss it, or did nobody talk about her yodeling?? (Also fun and goofy — but her singing, not so much. Both of which my blurb originally said, pre-editing anyway.)

  17. Dave, I would have linked “Tap That” if you hadn’t. A better Luke melody, and Megan’s more natural a singer than Ke$ha is.

    I’m generally fine with Ke$ha’s voice, though, or I wouldn’t be referencing L’Trimm; L’Trimm (who’ve got four or five songs I’d give 10s to and everything on their second album is 8 or better) were a couple of kids showing off for anyone who would listen. Reading Erika and Tal I can imagine Ke$ha taking the giggling girl thing to desperation; what’s wrong here is too much party sound, that fuzz bass, Ke$ha’s putting on all those voices; it’s the singer’s and producer’s desperation more than the protagonist’s and it sounds crowded and unpleasant (as opposed to the relatively spare Davis-Stone-Klein Miami bass landscape in which Tigra and Bunny let their imaginations romp about). Actually, a crowded half-desperate party could sound great, and Ke$ha could sound great in it, but not this one.

  18. Huh, in the video Ke$ha looks like the exact midway point between Taylor Swift and Avril Lavigne.

  19. i think shess HOTTTT… and awesome… and i dont understand anyones boring brain that has to think about her and doesnt just go with it and sing along’s brain… you make me bored… i loveee herrr :D

  20. Okay, that’s got me convinced.

  21. This song does much more than irk me. From the hokey and overly-simplistic verses to the formulaic beat, it’s clear that the producer was trying to pander to several genres at once.

    I don’t know who penned the lyrics, but they were either scrambling to meet a deadline or this is their first attempt at songwriting. Try again, and this time put a little bit of umph into it!

    This is a solid zero.

  22. I knew five seconds into this unbearable piece of so called pop music that kesha was just another untalented white chick trying to sound black.

    She sucks, and she’s a piss poor role model for my young daughters

  23. Yet she’s apparently doing Lilith Fair!

  24. Why are people taking this song/chick so seriously? It’s mindless bubblegum pop/dance music. You chew it up and spit it out…

    I actually enjoyed myself dancing with my 4 year old to this song. It served it’s purpose.

  25. Okay I forgot to admit I am a naive dumba** who cares less about artistic integrity and more about dumb whores carrying on about brushing their teeth with Jack. Seriously…I have zero taste in good music…so dont take my opinion seriously. It’s painfully obvious I am an idiot.