Album sales in the toilet? Buy a will.i.am verse and your score will be too. Limited time only!
Anthony Easton: Ke$ha has always flirted with earnestness, and positioned her partying as a kind of self-actualization. It was hinted at, never quite made explicit, but it was kind of a road-of-excess, Blakean thing. The interesting bit about that is that she never let the inspirational process fall over the genuinely pleasurable bits. It was a bonus. Making it the main course — and adding will.i.am — kind of ruins the meal.
Will Adams: When will his reign of terror end? Never mind the whistling (I’d rather not talk about it), someone please explain to me who decided it was a good idea to replace one of Ke$ha’s sharp-tongued verses for will.i.am’s dribble. He loses a point for “boobies” alone (though to be fair he gains it back with the mumbling bit, which is genuinely funny). The song itself is mediocre, another in a line of Ke$ha’s mission statement and another in a line of a build-drop template composed of two disparate parts held together by Scotch tape. It’s not nearly as crazy as the title wants it to be.
Alfred Soto: Her career fading a bit, she turns to the track with a redundant will.i.am bit and revs up the riffage. Who needs this when “Die Young” and “We R Who We R” exist?
Rebecca A. Gowns: I’m one of those people that adored Warriorwhen it was released — it’s just a fun set of songs. So I’ve heard this song several times by this point (and yeah, this is super close to the album version; as is typical lately, the “remix” just consists of a VERY lazy will.i.am. verse being shoved into the middle for 25 seconds). My seasoned review of “Crazy Kids” is as follows: the whistling sounds as if it’s being performed by an asthmatic, the guitar parts are dreary, it’s full of that “youth!!” marketing flavor that’s all over the radio, and the song is not NEARLY crazy enough. The verses are fine enough to dance to, but even then, it’s still warmed-over Far East Movement. The song as a whole has too many sleepy parts to really get a crowd moving; frankly, those parts are not even rousing enough for people to pull out their lighters (or cell phones) and sway them slowly. 1 point for being dull but serviceable, 2 points for being a Ke$ha song, after all.
Daniel Montesinos-Donaghy: Despite the successes of “We R Who We R”, the underlined Up With People approach in Ke$ha’s music has never successfully aligned with her most famed aesthetic – the spirit-drenched mix of goofy rapping and standardized four-on-the-floor beats. Her optimism isn’t at odds with her flippant club persona, but rarely have they clicked successfully, with one overpowering the other. But suddenly on the “Crazy Kids” remix, everything makes sense. The verses’ muffled techno programming allows Ke$ha and guest will.i.am to enjoy the spoils of their silliness, the latter seeming more human than he has in years. This gives way to the chorus’s mix of strumalong guitars and appropriately tribalistic drums, the setting for the artist to build a community out of the clubhoppers, make-out kids and weekend warriors: “We are! We are we are!” The repetition of ‘we’ above all else makes it a mantra, a charmingly naive message of inclusion topped off with a whisper: “WE ARE THE CRAZY PEOPLE.” The whisper, straight from a theatre-kid playbook but undoubtedly effective, seals the deal of inclusion. The bridge (returning to her apocalyptic imagery from “Die Young” and “Out Alive”) acknowledges that there may be little more to her politics than to gather people together for celebrations, but even that is enough in a world spinning out of control: “This is all we’ve got/And then it’s gone.”
Brad Shoup: I’d like to add a point to my Mariah/Miguel score, please. I forgot the no-whistling curve.
Jer Fairall: Ke$ha remains, to me, a one-trick pony whose one trick I never cared much for in the first place, though I’ll give it up a bit for will.i.am’s “speaking in a mumble” bit–the only time he’s ever made me laugh on purpose.
Katherine St Asaph: Lots of pop stars start or moonlight as session writers, but it’s only ever brought up on two occasions: when they’re trying to break out, the “she’s written for Britney!” script; or when pundits want to prove their authenticity with the trusty Procrustean rubric “she writes her own songs!” (As always, always she.) Everything else is just assumed to be part of the artist’s grand 360-deal vision — which can be misleading. The chorus to “Crazy Kids” is so clearly a Kesha Sebert work for hire: a pretty, melodic clarion call to whoever you are, singable by whoever you’ve got: Avril, Selena, Britney, Katy, Amy out of Karmin had she not reached her “hello” limit. Ke$ha took this one herself — maybe under duress — and because Ke$ha can’t yet release a single that’s entirely fluttery plaint, it’s awkwardly grafted onto a dirty bit, with a will.i.am verse grafted onto that for the single. (Give Will this: that muffled shutting-up of an ending is probably fanservice for lots of people, and he knows it.) Session writing isn’t inherently bad, and Sebert’s very good at it; that intro “hello” is some Lionel Richie shit, but to a kid alone with the airwaves, it probably sounds like her fairy godmother. The verses are identikit$ha, but they fill their time. It’s just that none of this, content or construction, is crazy.
David Lee: will.i.am is definitely one of those assholes who likes making Roller Coaster Tycoon POV videos in which unfinished roller coasters pull their passengers to thrilling heights only to fling them into the air and kill them. It wouldn’t be an endeavor all that different from his work of late. Like “Scream and Shout,” this presents a buildup that never achieves any kind of recognizable, cathartic chorus. I shouldn’t be surprised, though, since will.i.am seems to have a knack for making bland party anthems. Only the Ke$ha parts of “Crazy Kids” – no, not the rapped bits that are covered in will.i.am’s fingerprints – redeem it from total failure. They make up about 40% of this remix so it gets a
Crystal Xia: The original without will.i.am is one of my favorite songs of last year, probably my favorite album cut off of Warrior. It features a lot of things that I am really into: dumb and probably needless whistling; acoustic guitar serving more of a rhythm role; Ke$ha faux-rapping about her coochie in her perfect bratty intonation; and that grounded “Like a G6″-esque beat in the verses. Those things are all still here, except now we’re down one Ke$ha verse where she gives us a bratty “booty paahp” and more vagina talk (coded as “kitty kat”). It’s been replaced by a giant, awkward pause from the fun when will.i.am verse comes in. It is impossible to describe how bad he is; all I can say is that there are un-fun boob jokes and there is actually part where he just goo-goo-gah-gahs like a child. What a shame the original wasn’t released as the single.
Ian Mathers: I mean, there are obviously ways, musically and not, that Ke$ha is admirable, and her songs are often quite good, but she can’t elevate will.i.am (no matter how hard the production tries), she can’t quite make whispering “we are the crazy ones” in a song at least partly about partying any less dodgy, and she can’t make this one feel much less distinctive than her great songs.
Sabina Tang: Ke$ha has the intonation and the laugh of a high school cool girl; not a bully so much as someone whose gaze would have raked me with contemptuous mild amusement in the locker room. Such girls will always be a different species. Find a specimen who’s in school now: no matter how old you are and how much you’ve changed, she’ll look at you and see that you weren’t a cool girl then, and fail to respect you accordingly. That frisson of.. native enmity?… is what makes me pay attention to Ke$ha; even in moments like this one, when her surroundings vie to render her anonymous.