Friday, February 22, 2013

Ke$ha and the Duty of Pop Music

Look, I know what you’re thinking: “Ke$ha? That trashy slut?”  I am here to tell you that you’re wrong, and that the new Ke$ha album Warrior is Important. This is what the kids are listening to, and the kids can’t be ignored.

The album’s first song, and title track, starts with the revving of an engine, before Ke$ha’s voice kicks in: “We were born to break the door down/fight until the end.” She repeats the word “warrior” a few times, stretching it out to absurd lengths, before the beat kicks in. The song is meant to be uplifting, and a call to arms. It’s about not being a victim, and empowering yourself. The song has fantastic hooks, but an odd structure. This is pure pop to be sure, but the song’s glitchy breakdown keeps things interesting.

The next song, “Die Young” was one of the best mainstream tracks of 2012. It’s a nihilist pop anthem, a shout out to living in the moment. It’s also protest music, the sort of thing people should be paying attention to.

In many ways, it could be seen a response to to the stuff Dylan was doing in the ‘60’s. Consider “Bob Dylan’s Dream”:  “with hungry hearts through the heat and cold/we never much thought we could get very old./We thought we could sit forever in fun/and our chances really was a million to one.” Dylan was aware of his eventual demise, and he sang as if he was resigned to it. Ke$ha, on the other hand, doesn’t care. She’s going to party and fuck shit up. She’s going to make sure each moment counts.

This must somehow be evident of the mindset of America’s youth today. Kids today are more culturally aware than at any moment in history. They’ve gradually grown disillusioned. What Ke$ha does is represent this mindset.

In one of the album’s best tracks, "All That Matters (Beautiful Life)" Ke$ha mutters “fuck it I don’t care” before declaring that all she wants to do is get high. The song has a pulsing disco beat and a huge chorus: “baby, all that matters/is the beautiful life.” Obviously, this song is built for arenas. That sentiment is expressed during the song’s bridge when Ke$ha sings “put your motherfucking phones up” and it brings forth the image of thousands of kids waving their smartphones in the air.  Ke$ha’s music exists in the here and now, these songs couldn’t exist in any other decade.

If we really want to examine where our culture is heading we should look towards pop music. Yes, it’s a cliché to say that children are the future, but the distinction is obvious. Good pop stars can channel the energy of their audiences, and Ke$ha, with her army of so-called Animals, does exactly that. Even if she doesn’t consciously know what she’s doing, she’s bringing kids together with positive messages of hope and love, and living life to the fullest. Sure, some of the things she sings about may be considered reprehensible, but that’s only there to get the kids hooked. Pop music uses the rush to entice people, like any good drug. Warrior and the message it contains, is vital. Pay attention. 

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