It’s actually moderately surprising it has taken me this long to get to Ke$ha since she would appear to be the nadir of the sluttiness in pop I’ve talked so much about, but NOT SO. Read on, fair reader.
For the record, I will henceforth simply type Kesha, because she is really not worth the effort it takes to type any symbol of a currency. When she popped up as a solo artist in 2009 with ‘Tik Tok’, it immediately became an absolute smash, and really stepped into a mostly unfilled void (which she herself rarely has) in the pop music world. Sure, we’re used to hypersexual pop stars by now, and pop stars that love to party, BUT: was the world quite ready for trashbag-pop?
The clear answer, in hindsight, is yes. This is a fairly rare admission from me, but I may very well prefer trashbag pop to slut pop (see: Rihanna, selections of Katy Perry/Britney etc.) – terms I just made up – as a sub-genre of modern pop music. With trashbag pop, it’s about waking up still drunk after some party where, I don’t know, it was a condition of entry to be carrying a snake on your person, and if you hooked up with some dude, whatever man. You’ve got chlamydia anyway.
Conversely, slut pop is about being super hot and seducing some super hot guy (or girl, no judgement) generally somewhere inside, or in the vicinity of, a club and talking in anywhere from ‘kinda ambiguous’ to ‘so thinly veiled they’re transparent’ terms about how much you love having this dude/lady totally go to town on your bits because boning you is some kind of weird, sexual Everest.
There’s something so very insincere about slut pop. It’s about, more or less, a different dude every time; Rihanna does not seem particularly picky about whose penis is in her as long as the swordsman in question can joust to a sufficient standard. It tries to pass itself off as though the content of the song is intense but romantic rather than just a bit skanky. Trashbag pop, however, wears its syphilitic heart on its wizard’s sleeve.
Which brings me back to Kesha. Despite all my initial misgivings about Kesha – most of which still exist – she’s extremely and consistently committed to her bit. I’m beginning to admire the way she goes about her entire personality. To talk about the actual song for the first time so far, well, if you’ve heard any other Kesha song you know exactly what to expect. A danceable beat; some electro-pop/-clash synths; some autotune; some speak-singing, and a ‘wacky’ film clip featuring a newly self-deprecating James Van Der Beek because James Van Der Beek has to eat, you know?
Oddly, I kinda find the lyrics the stand-out part of the song. Not because they’re good, at all, but the way she’s becoming more self-aware and self-referential. Observe:
Back door, cracked we don’t need a key
We get in for free
and the chorus itself
This place about to blow, blow
She’s not afraid to make references to the slutty brush with which she’s been tarred (largely by herself, admittedly), which actually makes me crack a grin when I listen to it. As soon as she makes a reference to a ‘back door’, and really just the word ‘blow’, I think, “Kesha, you wry bastard! Very clever.” She’s figured out how she wants to be portrayed, chosen that niche and let’s face it, it’s working for her.
Her music isn’t really very good, like, at all. However I do find ‘Blow’ quite catchy, in the same way that in hindsight I find Tik Tok extremely catchy if painfully irritating and We R Who We R as catchy as Kesha’s many diseases despite the irritating lack of grammar in the song’s name.
As far as pop stars go, I think self-awareness is a hugely valuable trait. Lady Gaga? She has it to a degree, but there’s still too much self-importance and delusion there. Rihanna? Not quite, because she’s still deluding herself with her manufactured slut pop. Katy Perry? A little bit – her whipped cream bra in the California Girls film clip is a case in point, but the shitty faux-inspirational garbage of Firework shows that she thinks a little too highly of herself. Britney? She’s self-aware in the most superficial possible way, as evidenced by constant references to her own personal dramas.
But Kesha knows exactly what she is, how to market it, how to keep people interested in it, and how to elevate it again and again. For that, I thank her.