Tuesday, February 8th, 2011

Ke$ha – Blow

This is now the sixth Ke$ha song we’ve reviewed, and I’ve got bored of looking for still pictures of her, so here’s a screengrab from Eagleheart instead…


Jer Fairall: Surprising only in that it turns out to be on the subject of neither of the things one would expect a Ke$ha song called “Blow” to be about.

Alex Macpherson: Jesus Christ, “Satisfaction” is now NINE YEARS OLD, how is it possible that pop music is still trying to scavenge usable shit off its corpse?

Josh Langhoff: Sounds like it was spat out of some diabolical Ke$ha song generator: Auto-Tune, synths, glitter, dirt, dancing, not paying, talk of going “crazy” and “insane”. The only time she shows instead of tells is the climactic “THIS-PLACE-A-BOUT-TO!”

Jonathan Bogart: It’s all in the pinched, nearly hyperventilating way she says “we are taking…over,” like she’s a little kid having so much fun she almost can’t stand it, like she must have some release or she’ll burst. Remember that feeling? It’s why climaxes — musical and otherwise — were invented.

Jonathan Bradley: I believe it was a NATO agreement that saw the US swipe dance music back from the EU. Chief Ambassador Ke$ha substitutes trailer- for Euro-trash, and the villainous Dr. Luke leavens the mute nightclub grind with a Billboard Chart chorus. That chorus isn’t as memorable as that in “We R Who We R,” though it does rediscover a sense of disrespect absent from the It Gets Better uplift of the prior Cannibal single. “Blow” succeeds thanks to its adolescent recognition of ennui as something to be celebrated: “Dirt and glitter cover the floor/We’re pretty and sick, we’re young and we’re bored.” Teenage angst has paid off well.

Alfred Soto: If 120 mph lung blasts threaten to knock down power lines and shatter windows, better Ke$ha than Katy Perry, who has the good sense to confine her deep thoughts to where’s-the-party blather.

David Moore: Ke$ha wins on points but misses the knock-out. This time she actually describes the glittery dirt on the floor that’s merely implied in “Take It Off” and lets Autotune autopilot the sleek club chorus for her instead of provocatively barfing through it. She’s getting restless — having long since fallen in love with the DJ, she is now ready to eat him and break all of his stuff.

Martin Skidmore: An electro club banger, with some good Max/Luke/Benny power behind a couple of points of the chorus, but by and large her rather shrill voice and stiff rapping still just irritate me – by now I don’t expect to ever like any of her music.

Anthony Easton: Placeholder, though some interesting abrasive noise.

Katherine St Asaph: “Blow” is not Ke$ha’s strongest song qua song. “Take It Off” does danger more convincingly, the autotune here is obvious but not enough for a voice-as-tool defense, and this isn’t the place for a “TiK ToK” rap. But Ke$ha is not interested in how things are supposed to work. Take the club, as an archetype. The Club is traditionally dangerous because it is a place where sex and drugs and corruption happen, where girls are coerced to clutch at some stranger’s — or strangers’ — hungry thirsty roots until they dwindle away. Even the fun songs bury this narrative underneath their major chords. It’s deeply problematic, of course, but it’s even more deeply embedded in listeners, particularly girls. Spend enough time listening and you feel like the radio’s turning you into prey, voices and bodies tracking you down on every station. Ke$ha devotes a total of two words to this: “VIP sleaze,” the stuff of bottles-models bragging. Then she rejects it and every other club trope: the welcoming dance floor, the DJ who gets you falling in love or falling to lust. And then — what? Not sex; everyone tries to make Ke$ha into the supposed anti-Taylor Swift, but it doesn’t work. She’ll “do what you don’t,” except that here she doesn’t; there’s not a partner to be found. Ke$ha doesn’t even go for the sex pun like Katy Perry would. Not drugs — that pun isn’t there either, and there isn’t even any alcohol. Not even real danger; the place is constantly about to blow, but it never does. All we get are the standard Ke$ha signifiers: dirt, glitter and unspecified craziness. Together, they add up to nothing. She’s just bored, after all; nothing really matters. The subversive part is how accessible she makes this to her core audience. Take her chorus, which doesn’t mention the club or any other specific location. Much like the Black Eyed Peas sang “people in the place” so they can secure weddings and Super Bowls as readily as dance floors, Ke$ha’s chorus is just as applicable to your house party as the bar down the street they’d need a fake ID to crash. When she sings “drink the Kool-Aid,” it’s not just an idiom; add some vodka and it’s what teens literally drink at parties. And Ke$ha is out to shanghai everyone; you’re one of us, she sings, now come destroy things with us. It’s nihilism for the party crowd, a call to dance until you’re dumb and don’t stop. And she laughs about it. And believe her: no one’s getting out.

Michaelangelo Matos: Was kind of disappointed she didn’t offer me a rail. Maybe then I could enjoy this. Oh, who am I kidding?

Zach Lyon: Not a fan of these Ke$ha tracks that seem to play off the melodies of children’s songs (“Take It Off” is the other big offender), though I admire the levels of irony she plays with. Detached from the song itself, I really do admire most of it (esp as Bogart discusses, the fact that she keeps everything action movie without making it a coke/blowjob metaphor, her complete willingness to take this mythologization of sorority-girl culture to an extreme), I just don’t enjoy listening to this one.

3 Responses to “Ke$ha – Blow”

  1. I believe it was a NATO agreement that saw the US swipe dance music back from the EU.

    Too bad they only swiped the worst bits of it then (and even more of a pity that they didn’t even manage to fully swipe it – seriously, TAKE DAVID GUETTA YOU CAN HAVE HIM, and please don’t let him back). And that the best of European dance music is still as strong and pace-setting as ever.

    Re: Ke$ha, I am more convinced than ever that her defenders are suffering from a radio version of Stockholm syndrome.

  2. Would’ve given this at least a 7, possibly an 8, if I had thought of anything to say about it.

  3. Jer’s one liner is the review I’m quoting at the moment as the line I wish I had said first – as for Ms Seber’s least-challenging single, it takes a bunch of hoary 2010-ish cliches, throws in a little RedOne’s stutter effect, and thanks to my man Luke never letting a good hook going un-weapon-ized, becomes eighth top 40 hit in fourteen months, something even GaGa didn’t manage. Success hasn’t spoiled her yet, but her Apocalyptic Crackhead Barbie shtick is being challenged by Jessie J (better voice) and Nicki Minaj (randier antics).