Tuesday, March 2nd, 2010

Ke$ha ft. 3OH!3 – Blah Blah Blah

The video is roughly one-third shoving, one-third sticking out of tongue, one-third I HAVE PHONE NOW. In case you were wondering…


Dan MacRae: Hey rich teens! Are you planning on accidentally running over a homeless person and driving away like nothing ever happened? Ke$ha and 3OH!3 have got the soundtrack for that adventure covered.

Chuck Eddy: I approve of Ke$ha; sometimes I even like her. Last time I checked, “D.I.N.O.$.A.U.R.” and “Ki$$ N Tell” were my favorite non-“Tik Tok”-ers on her album. I have also approved of 3OH!3 on occasion, and I don’t doubt they were made for each other. But tragically, this cut never catches up to its wonderfully infantile nursery-rhymes-with-guitar-riffs-scatched-in-by-turntablist beginning. Sad!

John Seroff: The genderfuck politics are fun and this is a big ball of stoopid but it’s not half as interesting as “Tik Tok” or even “DINOSAUR”.

Matt Cibula: Gave eight points to the beat, so you can work out how much I took off for the confused boring poorly-done lyrics by Our Lady of Perpetual Skankitude, and how much for the worst “featured” appearance I’ve ever heard in my life.

Alfred Soto: Obnoxious in the best sense. I’m impressed by Ke$ha’s continued reluctance to sing — let alone enunciate — like a good girl. She’s like the guy who deliberately sits in a squeaky chair to bother neighbors.

Kat Stevens: Was I this annoying when I was 24? I’m fairly sure I stopped making huge sexist generalisations about Men Do This But Women Think That around then. I also stopped hiding my swearwords with squelchy sound effects, because that got boring VERY QUICKLY.

Martin Skidmore: Okay, let’s start by dismissing the idea that this is a song about men in the style that male rappers talk about women: no it isn’t. There are two or three lines that fit with that, but most of it doesn’t – when did men focus on whether the women will get it from them? She delivers it with some confidence and force, and the bouncy electro tones work well enough, but it’s half-hearted in its publicised aim. One of those times where I might have liked it more had I had no knowledge of its intent.

Martin Kavka: I like things retro. Indeed, I have prayed to Gloria Gaynor for the return of the music of my youth. But this throwback to the sounds of the early video arcade — dark, soulless, and devoid of companionship — is hardly what I wanted. (Damn you, Gloria!!) The first things that pop into my head as I hear “Blah Blah Blah” are images from fashion magazines dating from when women first began to shatter glass ceilings in corporate workplaces; the range of approved fashion choices went from unflattering variations on men’s suit-and-tie combo to even more unflattering variations. Ke$ha’s pose, as she tells some guy to STFU if he wants to get laid, looks just as mannish and just as ugly.

Anthony Easton: That they are working on the same problems, using the same musical tools, and the same heritage of white boy hip hop and suburban house, ratchets up the nasty (nasty as in bodies, as in ideas, as in presentation). The ugliness, the abrasiveness, the refusal of sweetness, the hard edge is so blank and so amoral; the amorality makes it.

Doug Robertson: Ke$ha has dollar signs in both her name and her eyes, which is fair enough really as generally she’s pretty ace, but this is essentially filler for the Galaxy FM drivetime show. It never really lifts off, and seems content to just idle at the traffic lights, revving it’s engine every now and then in a bid to show willing but failing to actually take the initiative. Maybe the dollar has devalued more than I realised.

Frank Kogan: Tunefully pretty clatter that’s clatter nonetheless, fusillades of frosting from all sides, chocolate kisses battling with sugar squirts, totally blah-blah-blah appropriate. Wiseacres 3OH!3 show up sounding proper and somnolent in comparison and are instantly obliterated by Ke$ha’s cotton-candy eruption.

Keane Tzong: The appearance of 3OH!3 is a grievous mistake from which “Blah Blah Blah” almost fails to recover. Aside from that misstep, it’s, well, more Ke$ha: aggressive, featherweight fun that prompts the question “but why is showing up to the recording booth drunk a bad thing?” I’ve made up my mind on her, and by now you probably have too.

51 Responses to “Ke$ha ft. 3OH!3 – Blah Blah Blah”

  1. I find it very difficult to pinpoint exactly what it is about Ke$ha that annoys me so much (I utterly failed in my blurb above, sorry). It’s not really ‘woe unto feminists everywhere their hard work is for naught’, and immaturity itself shouldn’t be an obstacle for a popstar. The song isn’t horrendous in itself but relies on Ke$ha for any noteworthy moments, and she seems to be ignoring it completely and doing her own thing (which again, shouldn’t be a problem). Maybe it’s her hairdo?

  2. Kat, this frustrates me too. Dave Holmes has perhaps gotten closer than most to articulating it.

  3. I should have given this a 7 or an 8.

  4. That’s a good starting point Martin! I guess the 13-year-old girls in question are only imagining one side of what they think wild 21yos are like – they’re not going to imagine the hangovers or the self-loathing or the fear that they’re going to be found out as a fraud or the GENERAL EMPTINESS INSIDE that goes with such a lifestyle (anxieties that eg Lily Allen manages to get across), let alone imagine that most 21yo girls really aren’t very wild at all. Perhaps it’s some weird subconscious rebellion where the 13yo girls are trying to suppress the knowledge that when their parents were 21 they were probably getting married & having kids.

  5. […] ft. 3OH!3 – Blah Blah Blah […]

  6. Haha thus begins a pattern that every time I read the TSJ blurbs for a Ke$ha song, I go and listen to the song for the first time, grin like an idiot for three minutes, and then lament not doing something about it in time to give it a “7.” (By now “Tik Tok” is closer to an “8.”)

  7. Was wondering about that text message myself — I guess she’s writing “Douche Master,” like Thigh Master, but as is I imagine her as the Renfield to 3OH!3’s shitty dracula.

  8. Last thing — does anyone else get the feeling that Ke$ha is actually a character in some teen comedy that we haven’t been told about yet? There’s something about the incongruity of her look and persona that suggests the girl from Veronica Mars “making a statement about FameExcess [/Miley] and perhaps also something something commercial manipulation something sheep” in the music biz satire that will attempt to revive Mandy Moore’s career as a boring singer-songwriter for another three seconds. (She’s the one with the CRED, of course because initially no one thinks her music is any good. After a fluke car accident puts her in touch with the head of a big label [Alan Cummings] she is quickly on the road to fame…but at what COST???)

  9. Metal Mike Saunders via email, in January:

    the entire Ke$ha album (only two weeks old at retail; it racked on jan 3rd and was a no.1 album its first week, with about 160,000 and 30% higher sales than “projected”) is also a wtf, like the 1974 Dictators (lyrically that is) channeled into a genre-mixing FEMALE writer/singer 35 years later. it seriously has the most over the top 74shernoff-retardo-funny/cool lyrics since Go Girl Crazy. and ha, two no.1 hits right out of the box, another song in the Top 15, and two more in the Top 50. with other definite hit songs not even in play yet.

    Don’t think I’d go nearly as far as Mike does there, but I like Katy Perry more than him, so what do I do know. I am thinking I should’ve given this song a 7 now, though. (And “Tik Tok” an 8. Maybe I should just add one point onto all future Ke$has scores, as a matter of principle.)

  10. I really think the feminism/”oh, so a GIRL can’t do this?”/”woman songwriters can’t catch a break” thing is a red herring. Ke$ha isn’t sassy or empowering or clever, she’s just a fucking asshole who also happens to be pretty catchy. So if her popularity means anything along those lines it’s that she signals a willingness by the american public to put up with catchy assholes regardless of gender? Yay?

  11. Yep. Showing the world that ‘girls can be annoying too’ may be great for feminism but it’s not so good for not-being-an-asshole-ism.

  12. Man I must be on a different planet from you all, as I find her neither musically/lyrically catchy nor adorably assholish, nor even cunningly calculated. And I’ve never been accused of letting good taste get in my way of enjoying something. So, uh, hmmm.

  13. I’m basically with Matt here. Look, I like famewhores and assholes and amoral party bitches! I would be completely fine with Ke$ha’s persona except a) as Erika has put it, it codes less “crazy party girl” and more “homeless junkie”, b) it feels really…overdone, writ way too heavily and bold face and block capitals, L@@K AT ME I AM CRAZY PARTY GIRL!, rather than just…getting on with partying.

    Anyway those are not the real problems, I’m sure I’d get over them if the music was as hooky or danceable as the best Pussycat Dolls or Paris Hilton numbers, but she has no rhythm whatsoever and when she goes into autotune barf combined with rudimentary treble bleeps it’s almost as bad as Animal Collective for pure sonic grossness. Neither of her hits have shown themselves to be even memorable, let alone catchy. I actually look at some of her lyrics and wish someone would corral them into a decent club banger, tbh.

  14. So basically, this is Lady Gaga all over again, right? And we’ll all love her a year from now? (I don’t think she’s as good myself, but I won’t be shocked if I’m proven wrong.)

  15. I don’t mind the autotune here, better than actually hearing the real voices involved. But I DO mind her not being able to make up her mind about whether she wants to hit that or not; having it both ways doesn’t actually work in this situation, and dumb confusion is not clever ambiguity. Also I think she probably smells like lavender and has minty fresh breath, and would never actually get busy with Mick Jagger, even the young one.

  16. And I didn’t love Lady Gaga until she did that pretty piano ballad on Saturday Night Live where she proved that there is a pretty cool person in there somewhere; and I haven’t really loved anything she’s done since then. Do we think that Ke$ha has hidden depths? Do we WANT her to have hidden depths?

  17. i am hearing this album blasting out of all types on the subway: black, white, latino, asian, female, male, skinny, fat, square, hipster but always YOUNG. 25 and younger.

  18. and by “blasting out of”, I don’t mean “in the spirit of”. I mean I can hear the album from their headphones.

  19. Actually, I won’t be shocked if Ke$ha comes up with something decent a year from now, or maybe sooner. I don’t think she’s making her songs sound unlistenably annoying because she can’t do better, but because treble autotune vomit is the common currency of the charts these days (and she just goes the extra mile to make it more trebly, more autotuned and more vomity than anyone else). Which doesn’t change the fact that “Tik Tok” and “Blah Blah Blah” just sound horrible, much worse than any of Gaga’s early singles. Gaga raised her game from “bog standard” to “really great”, Ke$ha has a lot further to go.

  20. Matt, the Ke$ha stans on ONTD often link to this as proof of her hidden depths, but I’m unimpressed — it’s very hired-hand, like the third-to-last track of a second-tier Disney star’s album. They’d probably be better off linking to those videos of her backing up her brother at some Nashville bar (but then, that’s his show, so how much credit can you give her?) or “Animal” off this album.

    I probably would like her to have hidden depths. I was delighted when GaGa did, I was disappointed when Katy Perry didn’t, and I’m continually hoping that Lily Allen does But the thing about GaGa and Katy and Lily that separates them from Ke$ha, in my mind, is that they all seem to understand what having hidden depths means. Even Ke$ha’s attempts at not seeming blatantly dishonest and pre-packaged are blatantly dishonest and pre-packaged.

  21. Literally passed out on my bed as I was preparing to write this up, but I’m oddly conflicted about Ke$ha and have been listening to her album all weekend, more or less?

    The thing is her hooks are catchy and her assholishness is catchy as well at times, but more so than anyone else she really seems to be pushing the sonic ugliness of the trebly autotunery that Lex talks about – which actually makes the music more interesting to me at times, because I’m fighting through occasional ugliness to get to the pop that my ears and gut sense buried underneath (kind of like lo-fi indie?). I don’t know whether she’s hindered or made more interesting by the texture, but it does GRATE. Basically the question is “does the grate make it great?”.

  22. But yeah, the appeal of Ke$ha is not the “hidden depths” and I think I would actually be disappointed if they were there – GaGa’s depth was welcome since her shtick was predicated on being an intelligent “project” engaging with celebrity and music and fame and blah blah blah. Katy’s lack thereof is annoying because she’s playing with elements that require some depth even for a good surface performance (her weird gender stuff, mostly). The joy of Ke$ha is sort of like the joy of 3OH!3 (who she’s sonically closer to, imo, than any of the Euro/electro-pop women who have emerged on the American and UK charts) – she dares to be stupid and vapid and revels in it, and makes it sound attractive.

  23. she dares to be stupid and vapid and revels in it, and makes it sound attractive.

    I think this is really what it comes down to. Gaga is much, much different because there are all sorts of conflicts between the trashiness of her music and the supposed high-art of her image. My feeling is that a lot of people’s problem with Ke$ha is that her image just isn’t very interesting, and her music isn’t interesting either. Maybe “intriguing” is the better word here, since there isn’t very much intrigue in Ke$ha’s music the way there is in Gaga’s. But Gaga is building a world of intrigue, and Ke$ha’s just living in an exaggerated–and in my opinion, satirical–take on party culture.

    I haven’t listened to the album yet, although I definitely want to now, since what I’ve heard–the two singles we’ve reviewed here–are totally great. Would have given this an 8. Ke$ha (by the way, I LOVE that she puts a $ where the “s” should be; the last person who did this was Ma$e circa Harlem World, another inexplicably (critically) overlooked commercially successful artist) just transforms all the conversation around her into “blah blah blah,” which has to be for one of two reasons: 1. She’s wasted 2. She doesn’t give a shit. I can identify with both of those things, since I shut people off all the time regardless of whether or not I’m drunk. And I LOVE how much more overtly house this music is than Gaga’s. It’s kind of circuit house (I can’t vouch for that term, I glommed it from Kevin John on an ILM thread), but it bumps steadily while changing up, and the keyboards either act as leads or as backgrounds in a way where the conflict exists in the separation of both sounds. The music is so simple, but it’s totally effective, just like Ke$ha’s image, I think.

    I’m writing thi$ in a hurry, $o apologie$ in advance for all the $pelling mi$take$.

  24. wow that viral is truly execrable

  25. But the thing is, Ke$ha’s “thing” – her selling point, what should convince us that she is worth paying attention to – can’t be that she’s wasted and doesn’t give a shit, as great as those things are and as great as it is to hear them reflected in pop music. Because what else has, oh, the entire past decade and more been about but getting wasted and not giving a shit? Ke$ha’s schtick doesn’t differentiate her in any way from any of her peers, and noting it doesn’t feel adequate, and I think this is where she fails to win me over, because the relentlessness with which she trowels the schtick on seems to indicate that she does think “getting wasted and not giving a shit” makes her interesting in and of itself. Whereas when that aesthetic succeeds, it’s due to how well and in what way the artist gets wasted, whether that’s Lil’ Jon or Trina or Electrik Red or the Paradiso Girls.

    I mean, Gaga’s rhetoric/output imbalance at the start was a case of her talking the talk, but failing to walk the walk until a bit later. Ke$ha doesn’t even talk the talk interestingly.

  26. That acoustic song sounds like a Jewel outtake. I dunno, throw Ke$ha over some decent beats and I wouldn’t be surprised if she comes up with a good club banger, but if her current suckiness is disguising anything, it’s not probably not hidden depths as such.

  27. she dares to be stupid and vapid and revels in it, and makes it sound attractive

    She may simply be stupid and vapid – I haven’t done the research. She’s probably just falling into clichés of the wild life as her path of least resistance, though I’d like to project desperation onto her in order to imagine depth. I hated her from the get-go and may still hate her. So I went into this thinking “catchy enough for a 6” and came out with a 9; what happened is that I hooked into the high-pitched pretty chaos and the pulse that’s quite a hot throb underneath and that pulls everything together, and as sound this began making “You Belong With Me” and “I Kissed A Girl” and “3” and “I’m On A Boat” and “Loba” and “Tik Tok” and “Heels” and “Untouchable” and “Outta My Head” and “Wobble” and “Cry For You” and “Disturbia” seem too pale and bare in comparison. As sound, that is.

    In other words, this rocks. The nearest equivalent I can think of is Tommy James & The Shondells “Mony Mony,” and this has a throb that beats that.

    This doesn’t necessarily make “Blah Blah Blah” better than all those – though maybe it does, my viscera often holding sway against everything else; but I’m not a one-issue voter. But if I were still thinking of going anywhere as a musician, I’d try to figure out what Ke$ha and her producers did here and ask myself, “How can I harness that?”

  28. Listened to the whole album today and was surprised to come to the conclusion that the Secret Ingredient was SCOOTER!!!!

  29. Lex: I don’t understand how artists talking about getting wasted and not giving a shit, which is a current that reaches way past the last decade, precludes Ke$ha’s music from being enjoyable. And her schtick is unimaginative and uninteresting, but the music is so direct and violent, but with bubblegum on top.

    I don’t hear Tommy James & The Shondells like Frank does. I hear–and this might be obvious–a sloppier Fannypack with louder drums.

  30. But Gaga is building a world of intrigue, and Ke$ha’s just living in an exaggerated–and in my opinion, satirical–take on party culture.

    I don’t see the satire. That’s what I mean by “hidden depths” — not secret singer-songwriter feelings, but any hint of anything beyond the party girl persona. She apparently wants us to believe that there is something beyond it (see her Billboard interview), but she doesn’t do anything to back up those assertions — her interview schtick is generally the same as her musical schtick, and she attempts to pass off obvious fiction as her “real” life (see: Ke$hawood). Which, I mean, on one hand, fine. I don’t think music needs to be all genuine and heartfelt and artistically pure to be enjoyable or worthwhile. But on the other hand, something about it needs to be interesting. Listening to Ke$ha is like trying to have a conversation with a pile of cigarette butts.

  31. Sorry, want to clarify the thing I said to Lex, which is that I can understand how qualms with someone’s image and what they represent and what they say can preclude enjoyment of music, it’s just that how Ke$ha’s schtick’s unoriginality sours the music is something I don’t quite understand in this particular instance.

  32. I haven’t seen/read her interviews, only seen the image she projects in her videos and on billboards plastered all over the city. And the image imparted in those outlets seems so over-the-top that, regardless of whether or not it’s satirical–which I still think it is–it’s hilarious. But I’ll read the interview and maybe it’ll change my mind.

  33. a sloppier Fannypack with louder drums.

    When I first blogged Ke$ha I was saying something like this but with L’Trimm in place of Fannypack (except I added that Ke$ha barely belongs in the same sentence as L’Trimm, which still may be true, but as I said, this rocks).

    “Mony Mony” was sloppy and raucous for its day.

    I spent half an hour last night doing a quick skim of John Leland’s singles columns for Spin in the late ’80s, unsuccessfully looking for what my memory told me was his recalling how he once said to his mom that he liked rock ‘n’ roll because it was noise, and by noise he meant Tommy James, not the Stooges. Maybe my memory is wrong here, and it was someone else, or my imagination.[/failed fact check]

  34. I LOVE that she puts a $ where the “s” should be; the last person who did this was Ma$e circa Harlem World, another inexplicably (critically) overlooked commercially successful artist)

    Well, Toby Keith (easily one of the most inexplicably critically overlooked commercially successful artists of the past decade) did name his best album, from 2006, White Tra$h With Money, for what it’s worth.

  35. From Ke$ha’s Wikipedia page:

    “Kesha listed Beck and Queen as her main musical influences. She draws from rap music and old-school punk as well, and credits her older brother with exposing her to groups such as Fugazi, Dinosaur Jr. and the Beastie Boys.

    Love it, love it, love it.

  36. No, Ke$ha’s unoriginality doesn’t sour the music! It’s the other way round – the music sours the unoriginality. Generic songs about being stupid and vapid and wasted and not giving a shit can, and have been, really great pop songs – elevating the unoriginality, or bypassing it, or doing something to it such that it doesn’t matter that it’s unoriginal. Ke$ha’s music doesn’t do this, in fact all Ke$ha seems interested in doing is hammering home the unoriginality as though it’s interesting, which it isn’t.

    Listening to Ke$ha is like trying to have a conversation with a pile of cigarette butts.

    LOL, and also: a pile of cigarette butts which thinks that being a pile of cigarette butts is inherently fascinating.

    What I am saying boils down to: Ke$ha, we have heard this (many times) before and we have heard it (a lot) better. What, precisely, is the point of you?

  37. TBH, such is my fondness for amoral, partying famewhores, I’d really, really like Ke$ha to be as good as some claim she is. But no, no, no, when she raps she lurches around the beat, she has no sense of rhythm, the herky-jerkiness of it means that it’s not even good to dance to and the sonics of the autotune bleeps are just painfully ugly.

  38. (But I don’t want to prejudice Lex against Tommy James, who actually can sing.)

  39. See, the lurches, ugliness and herky-jerkiness all seem to make the music grossly distorted. And I love those distortions, because they somehow all work together to give the music its own mutated shape. It’s because everything seems so exaggerated that I see her M.O. as satirical.

  40. a lot of people’s problem with Ke$ha is that her image just isn’t very interesting, and her music isn’t interesting either…a pile of cigarette butts which thinks that being a pile of cigarette butts is inherently fascinating.

    I dunno, I could be mistaken, but these criticisms sound to me a lot like what people were complaining here about Gaga eight or nine months ago. (But anyway, to my ears, one thing they have in common is really simple: They’re both bringing over-the-top high-energy disco-beat Europop to an American audience, bigtime, that heretofore had mostly shied away from such stuff. Actually, Katy Perry does that too, to a certain extent, I think; just not as unabashedly. And I’m not sure that what I love about Gaga has anything to do with her alleged art-world “depths” in the first place; if anything, that stuff was a barrier to connecting with her music.)

    I will say, though, that at least so far, I haven’t wound up obsessing over any of Ke$ha’s radio hits — not even “Tik Tok” — like I obsessed on Gaga’s last year. I kind of love Frank’s “Hanky Panky” comparison, but I can’t say I hear what he hears when I listen to this song.

  41. Oops, not “Hanky Panky” — “Mony Mony”! (There’s a difference, main one being that I’ve never really loved “Mony Mony” much, in either its Tommy James or Billy Idol versions. I dunno, maybe I’d give it an 8. “Hanky Panky” would be an easy 10, though. Tiffany’s version of “I Think We’re Alone Now” probably a 9; Joan Jett’s version of “Crimson And Clover” most likely an 8.)

  42. Er….that’d be an 8 for James’s “Mony Mony,” a 7 at best for Idol’s. For James’s “I Think We’re Alone Now” and “Crimson And Clover” scores, add one point each to the covers above. “Draggin’ The Line” might be a 9, too.

    So anyway, if “Blah Blah Blah” = “Mony Mony,” what part are people supposed to yell out “hey motherfucker, get laid, get fucked!” to? (Or would that be redundant now?)

  43. My favorite Tommy Jameses are probably “Crimson And Clover” and “Hanky Panky,” but “Mony Mony” is the one that feels like it’s got noise crawling all around its edges. Can’t find any good streams of “Mony Mony” online, at least not that do justice to Tommy’s singing (he’s got a strong soul sound on that one), but here’s one that gets the noise, though I’m sure you had to be there in 1968 to feel it as noise, in context.

  44. The first song on the Ke$ha album, “Your Love Is My Drug” is really great! The rest, um, well it’s like lesser xeroxes of that innit, except the plagiarism-tastic “Tik Tok” which has lost all its thrill with overexposure by now.

  45. http://www.lefthip.com/albums/1290

  46. Backstabber, guys, _backstabber_

  47. I can only imagine that “BlahBlahBlah” is what all pop music sounds like to people who hate pop music. And if you do hate all pop music, I can’t even imagine what this song would sound like to you.

  48. Ke$ha, to me, sounds like what you would get if you took any one of the girls off Jersey Shore and put her in a studio for a couple days with a mediocre generic house producer. (Which I’m sure we’ll be seeing sometime soon, and the results will be no worse than this.) Gaga is a completely different animal; her artiness aside (hardly her biggest selling point and certainly not necessary to enjoying her music, I’ve never watched one of her videos in my life), she simply writes vastly better songs, conveys emotion, and doesn’t come off as the most annoying person in the world, as Ke$ha does. I mean, would you, would anyone like to party with someone who sings of herself in that shrill nasal whine, “the party doesn’t start till I walk innnnnnnnn”?

  49. I posted a bunch of lj & tumblr links to recent – good – Ke$ha convos.

  50. “The appearance of 3OH!3 is a grievous mistake from which “Blah Blah Blah” almost fails to recover.”

    This was a sentiment repeated a couple times on this board. I’m very curious what you people think 3OH3 does wrong that Kesha does right.

  51. 3OH!3 just sound pasted-in like they’re barely able to manage a walk-through, while Ke$ha is all squirmy and splashy.

    3OH!3 were tense and fierce and pretty on “Don’t Trust Me,” so I don’t know what went wrong here.