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Ke$ha Day 2
koganbot
I was with friends at Tokyo Joe's this evening, a quasi fast-food Japanese joint, and music was piped-in, adding noise to a place already full of crowd noise. Not sure what the purpose of the music is, since it's not loud enough to help create the ambience. Perhaps by adding more noise to the noise it provides cover for people who don't want the customers at adjacent tables to overhear them. In any event, within this overall noise is music that I don't attend to and that is not really discernible - except suddenly I hear a sound of hard compacted beauty emanating from the uproar, pulsing balls of beauty. I'm thinking "This is incredible!" and then realize it's "Blah Blah Blah." Throbbing prettiness within Ke$ha's aggressive clatter, emerging from above and joining Tokyo Joe's dinner clatter.

File photo of Tokyo Joe's, without crowds or clatter or Ke$ha. 1360 Grant Street, Denver:
Image Hosted by ImageShack.us

"Blah Blah Blah" has the boshingest beat ever to hit in North America, even more bosh than Cascada. "Bosh" is a poptimists word that's not easily definable but evokes the most twistingly propulsive and opportunistically ear-attacking squelchy techno or acid house beats (or other genre names the Brits would know better than I) revving up from underneath some Polish (or somewhere) post-Italodisco hot tuneful Europop ditties, or disco-speed covers of "You Give Love A Bad Name" sung by fashion models or sisters-in-law turned "diva." But "Blah Blah Blah" being in white Anglo-America where fun is never part of the natural order but rather is as competitive as everything else, it intensifies the fierceness and the crassness. I used "Mony Mony" as my touchstone yesterday, for having a strong center and a messy party surrounding it; I also think of the Troggs' "Wild Thing" and the 7-inch version of Flipper's "Sex Bomb" (walking sludge that lifts itself up until it's thundering across the landscape) married to the dance-insistence of "Into The Groove." Modern touchstones might be Lindsay Lohan's "First" for its fundamental message of NOTICE ME NOTICE ME NOTICE ME!, and Britney Spears' Blackout for all its wormy little beats and riffs and background voices, a world of crawling creatures, Britney's own self-absorbed voice crawling and scratching and finding its way to a self-centered center. What I said yesterday about "Blah Blah Blah" making other music seem pale and bare in comparison: Britney's Blackout has that effect too, foliage with insects and annelids going about their own business, a minor cacophony on the margins.

But my needing all these comparisons to describe "Blah Blah Blah" just emphasizes its uniqueness. Nothing else on the album comes close to its bosh or bounce. A lot of yesterday's convo revolved around what Ke$ha might be doing, and while she gives the track aggression and meanness as the official party-girl master of ceremonies, this isn't about partying or the concept of the party any more than beer is about partying. Rather, it's the noise maker you use to create a party. "Blah Blah Blah" is pretty much its message, syllables, yammer yammer yammer (cf. woolly bully, a-hip a-hop, womp bomp a loo bomp, dang digga dang d-dang d-dang diggy diggy), that and the boshbeat and the insane prettiness.

The album is something of a surprise, now that I've heard it. It's pretty too, in fact, I was expecting more aggression and less tunefulness (not that the two need be incompatible). In "Blah Blah Blah" prettiness is merely part of the overall assault, albeit a central part. On other tracks prettiness is almost the point. Dave is right that Luke has gotten himself under control on this album, maybe 'cause he's not on the most Lukish track, which is by people who aren't going for the supervolume that Luke would ruin his own tunes with. Dave's and my complaint when we mention Luke (producer-songwriter Lukasz Gottwald, and when we say "Luke" we sometimes mean frequent colleague Max Martin) is his tendency starting 2005-2006 to create a pulverizing landslide of overloud beauty in his choruses. (Megan McCauley's "Tap That," though an excellent song, and somewhat proto-"TiK ToK" in its Salt-N-Pepa stylings, was a harbinger of future Max 'n' Luke overkill.) Maybe what Luke is now doing right is that he's attaching the beauty to rhythm rather than slathering it all over everything. At least that's what he does on "TiK ToK." The most Lukish track is "Party At A Rich Dude's House" (that and "Backstabber" are my two favorites after "Blah Blah Blah"; neither Luke nor Max is on those three, though I do like some of theirs too), which has a balance that Luke never achieved; basically, what it's got over third-album Avril, which it resembles, is that - maybe inspired by Ke$ha's supposed party vibe - it moves faster, so it doesn't throw so much weight on the chorus.

To be continued. Haven't said much about Ke$ha's lyrics, 'cause I haven't attended to them yet, or her image, whatever it is. Her voice isn't much, which is surprisingly not a problem on a lot of these. Maybe she sometimes knows what she's doing when it comes to sound. The pretty, uncharacteristically spacey title song works best when Ke$ha lets it drift into the distance like Feist or Enya, but the track doesn't have the courage of its wimpy convictions, and Luke revs it up too much.
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been listening to the album a lot, blah^3 has a BIT of bosh - there's the eurobeat beat-doubling thing in the middle

another ref in the mix for you, as lots of bits, (esp eg dinosaur) reminds me of Daphne and Celeste.

Yes, reminiscent of D&C (whom she may not have heard), and L'Trimm and Salt-N-Pepa (whom she definitely has). Btw, thanks for posting comments on my threads. I'm way behind on getting around to thinking about all the stuff that people have been saying on my "What do philosophers do?" threads and several others, but if you don't hear back that doesn't mean that the comments aren't appreciated.

Picking up on a few things I said either here or elsewhere, I've been distinguishing between "the heart of the party" and "reflection on the heart of the party," a kind of second-hand recalling of the party with some kind of undercutting edge. On Animal Ke$ha falls somewhere between these two poles, at her best getting right into the heart, where the nonsense syllables become content and stage trumps character, but most of the time there's something a little more off-kilter about it. On the times where it almost-not-quite connects I find myself just as captivated as I am when I play the more obvious party tracks (and there's an almost-not-quiteness even in "Blah Blah Blah," I think, but the song itself is massive enough to make this more irrelevant). Nowhere in any of this do I have sense of Ke$ha as a character, but maybe as ringleader or (shock) emcee. And in that sense I see her like a Tim Burton character -- specifically the mayor from Nightmare Before Christmas, who has only two faces (Cheshire cat grin carnival barker and terrified kabukiesque worrywart) but seems to "exist" somewhere between the two. But like that character, she's more of a guide through the stage than an interesting character in her own right.

Man, still not hearing this -- "Blah Blah Blah," I mean. I like the album fine. But to my ears, "Blah Blah Blah" really goes downhill after its amazingly visceral first 17 or 18 second (which I'd probably give a 10 to), and after that -- when the melody comes in, I guess -- it slips into averageness. Good averageness, but still averageness I'm having trouble caring about. Need to listen to the album more; honestly have yet to pick up on all the audaciously retardo lines everybody keeps raving about either, so obviously they're at least not jumping out of the background at me. Mainly, though, I guess I'm starting to realize that I might have no idea what people mean by "bosh" -- not clear to me, say, how this song is more HI-NRG Europop than, say, "Bad Romance" much less, I don't know, Aqua or Las Ketchup or Jordy or somebody. (Maybe they were too early to be bosh-worthy, or didn't get high enough on the charts? Though it is interesing Gaga and Ke$ha are Americans!) So basically, so far, I wish I was hearing more Scooter (and Dictators, and Flipper, and disco for that matter) in Ke$ha. But maybe I will, still. (Also not sure why people are pretending that nobody took Kid Rock or 3Oh!3 -- the former of whom I prefer to Ke$ha, the latter of whom I don't -- to task for singing about life as a big bumb party, because I thought people took them to task for that all the time. But maybe I'm strawmanning. (Should also mention that I haven't yet absorbed this entire post or the comments yet, much less other blog talk about her -- really falling behind on keeping up with in-depth Ke$ha analysis these past couple days! -- so maybe I'm saying things other folks have already said, I dunno.) (And at that, it's still one of my favorite albums of the year, fwiw, though that's got as much to do with lack of competition as anything else. Doesn't sound like a Top 10 worthy album to me, though that could conceivably change.)

"17 or 18 seconds" plural I meant, obviously.

Also wondering why nobody has compared the album yet to Licensed To Ill (not that I'm saying it's necessarily comparable, but that one definitely reminded me of the Dictators in its day -- and you could dance fast to it, too.)

(And right, I know it was Metal Mike -- not you -- who made the Dictators comparison {See my reposting of it on Dave's Tumblr and on Jukebox.} I don't even know what you think of the Dictators, come to think of it, Frank! And Mike was talking about her lyrics, where you're talking about her music -- get that. Yet somehow you end up in a similar place.)

Don't think that "Bad Romance" is any less indebted, but I think "bosh" has to be a little less...I think the word is "tasteful"?...in its execution. The three you mention after "Bad Romance" may just pre-date the concept, yeah, though I think Aqua comes closest. There's also a specific strain of bosh in which non-Europop songs are given a throbbing techno beat (the ones I think of most readily are Cascada, though to be honest I think in some ways their version of "Sk8er Boi" is less in your face than the original). The only direct sonic Scooter link that I find on Animal is "Take It Off." But there's something about Scooter's single-mindedness that I think Ke$ha has in a way Lady GaGa doesn't.

See, I don't hear how Cascada are less tasteful than Gaga, at all. (Not sure I hear how Ke$ha is either, though apparently it's in the lyrics and the noise I haven't yet picked up on.)

Do get how Scotter is less tasteful than all of them, though.

Actually, I'd say the synths in "Hot And Cold" by Katy Perry sound pretty darn boshy, or at least Europoppy, too.

This is why Cascada doesn't quite fit the example, it's just the one I think of most obviously as doing something boshy. Scooter seems to be the Center of All Bosh in my own mind, though.

Ke$ha's tone of voice, whether she's singing nonsense or not, often seems of the "neener-neener" variety, snotty and petulant (I even find this to be true in the more Katy Perry-like ballad songs, her singing voice having a certain throaty screaming quality to it), whereas Gaga actually makes even her gibberish signify somewhat...well, maybe "tastefully" isn't the word after all. But there's something cool about Gaga that Ke$ha doesn't have.

I think that cool has at least a little something to do with how much more stuctured GaGa's songs are. The melody/music is a lot more structured, for one -- in a lot of Ke$ha's songs, I found it difficult to tell when the verse was ending and the chorus was beginning as I listened to it for the first time, whereas I could always tell with GaGa (and of course GaGa's beats are much more rigid). But the vocals are more structured as well -- they both have tracks where they just singsong their way through the verses, passing time till the big chorus, but GaGa's singsong, like her beats, is more rigid and even. The overall effect is that GaGa feels cleaner, more stylish than Ke$ha.

This'll no doubt by a xpost by the time I hit submit.

I'd forgotten Aqua, despite being the person who put "Lollipop (Candyman)" in my top ten of the '90s list. Aqua's beats might be too non-techno-aggressive to be bosh, though.

I think katstevens may be the person most responsible for popularizing the term "bosh" (at least in its poptimists use; I seem to recall that in the intertitles to the original Douglas Fairbanks' version of The Mark Of Zorro Don Diego's father always kept saying "bosh!" but I think he merely meant "nonsense," since in 1920 Eurodisco had yet to cross over to the U.S. in a major way). I don't know if Kat would endorse my view of the blah blah blah chorus as being essence du bosh, but I don't care; I think the blah-blah-blah chorus is the pinnacle of bosh, and I'll define bosh any way I want in order to get that result.

I would say that RedOne's aggressive bass push, which I don't always like, takes us near bosh (and rock, for that matter), and of course he's the producer of "Just Dance," "LoveGame," and "Poker Face." But GaGa still seems not "bosh," but something else. (Which isn't to say that she shouldn't be something else.) Didn't some of you decide last year on that ilX GaGa thread that she was old Belgian new beat?

You know, I've barely heard the Dictators. Beastie Boys certainly fight for your right to party, but in sound I'm getting them more "Kick Out The Jams" rather than "Wild Thing," which is to say not the garage Troggs punk I'm associating with "Blah Blah Blah" but the more reflective, probing punk that I wasn't calling "punk" until '77 of, say, the MC5 and the Stooges and Sex Pistols (was considering that not punk because I still associated punk with junior high school creeps playing tough, rather than thoughtful strong people probing toughness, not simply trying to act it out). Of course the MC5 covered the Troggs, but not very well.

(I'm not necessarily saying that "Blah Blah Blah" should be considered punk, by the way. Don't know how usable "punk" is as a term, anymore. Too respectable. But also, without anyone necessarily intending it, there was a sense in "Louie Louie" and "Wild Thing" that they were taking us at least a millimeter if not more away from where we'd been before, the very idea that these should be our anthemic party favors. I'd say that even Scooter has that sense. Whereas the Ke$ha party does just seem to be a niche and a cliché, the skank version of the L.A. thing, just more Hollywood Reporter and TMZ fodder. I wouldn't mind being wrong about that, though.)

people are pretending that nobody took Kid Rock or 3Oh!3 -- the former of whom I prefer to Ke$ha, the latter of whom I don't -- to task for singing about life as a big bumb party, because I thought people took them to task for that all the time

Not sure what you mean here; from the Jukebox thread a lot of the complaint about Ke$ha - at least a lot of Lex's complaints about Ke$ha - is that she's doing a boring old hat version of big dumb party, and he'd probably take Kid Rock and 3OH!3 to task for the exact same thing, and he did take Asher Roth to task for it. I mean, I don't think anyone's claiming that it's a breakthrough for Ke$ha to be taken for task for sounding like a big dumb party. Would seem to be an American perennial, the partying and the taking to task. I wouldn't be surprised to learn that supporters of John Quincy Adams took supporters of Andrew Jackson to task for dumb partying.

Shooter Jennings' "Daddy's Farm" ought to be part of this discussion, though that's a somewhat different strain of recalcitrance - the Blue Cheer strain, perhaps, mixed with Hank Jr. (whom I don't know nearly enough about). But in his way Shooter is as L.A. as Ke$ha is. --Sad that I didn't have enough nominations to get "Daddy's Farm" into the poptimists best of 2005 thing. By the way, while you weren't looking, Miranda Lambert and - finally - Ashlee Simpson got tracks that qualified for the next round of the best of the 2000s

junior high school creeps playing tough

I certainly get a vibe of "junior high school creep playing tough" from Ke$ha. It squares with the "13 year old's sense of what being a party girl is" commentary (perhaps the missing link between legit party girl and girlboymusic's vision of Ke$ha as something more like a street urchin). Maybe the difference between Ke$ha and Gaga is that Ke$ha would have terrorized Gaga on the playground, only for Gaga to get her revenge off the playground. Ke$ha still treats LA as a playground, and the game she's playing isn't very good -- her details aren't very imaginative, and she's been playing the same game for so long that it's more of a ritual than something one does for fun. Which would explain why there is a lot of disaffection in, e.g., her "blah blah blah." But there's also still a playground around it, which makes what she does in it secondary to the idea of where she's doing it. (OK, metaphor is starting to wheeze and buckle under its own weight here so I'll let it go.)

And no, I'm still not clear on why where Ke$ha chooses to play her games is different from where Gaga chooses to play hers. It's still just a gut feeling at this point still.

I'm saying this in ignorance, since I haven't delved enough into either GaGa or Ke$ha, and this is conceptual as much as (or more than) it is aural, but GaGa is everyone is a star, it all can be art, which can come from the Merry Pranksters and the Dead and the Airplane as much as from Warhol and Madonna, but it's definitely an artist's viewpoint, someone who's committed to long-term creation, building your art over many nights and many dances, not the moment's pie-in-your-face explosion. And Ke$ha may actually be a long-term artist (though my money's not on it), but her sound and persona are the blotto and the instant blat.

GaGa is everyone is a star, it all can be art... it's definitely an artist's viewpoint, someone who's committed to long-term creation

I see that in her videos and in pictures of her in magazines, obviously. Not so sure where it shows up in her music, though.

Actually, Ke$ha's album turned out to be less blotto and blat than I'd hoped (though maybe doing the blotto and blat once very well and going onto other things is the saner course).

Not sure what you mean here; from the Jukebox thread a lot of the complaint about Ke$ha - at least a lot of Lex's complaints about Ke$ha - is that she's doing a boring old hat version of big dumb party

Oh that's easy (though there's no reason you should know what I mean there, I was just strafing aimlessly by that point in my rant); it came from Dave's Tumblr yesterday (though I'm pretty sure Dave didn't write it -- with Tumblr, I can never tell who wrote what half the time, which drives me nuts): "I hear people talking kind of anxiously about how the emptiness of her (persona’s) party-always lifestyle isn’t reflected in the lyrics, and I wonder why I never hear that about 3OH!3 or Kid Rock or Lil Jon." I wonder where whoever wrote that has been for the last several years, myself -- though now that I re-read the comment, it may not have been saying what I thought it was saying; seems to imply people want the party-always lifestyle to wind up in her lyrics more?? (And maybe in Kid Rock's and Lil Jon's lyrics more too???) Weird. I thought the persona came from her lyrics. And whoever wrote that is apparently reffering to what others had previously written, which others I haven't read. And I may well also be taking it out of its intended context. Guess the comment struck in my craw, and I wound up referring to it where it made even less sense than where I had originally seen it. Hard to keep all this stuff straight.

I think what that person meant was that this is a silly thing to take Ke$ha to task for, for not saying that there's a sad emptiness that underlying her partying, and so the person would be asking, how come no one's criticizing Kid Rock and Lil Jon and 3OH!3 for not themselves writing songs that portray the sad emptiness that underlies their partying. (Seems to me that Rebel Without A Pause did have sad emptiness songs, and Ke$ha does have one herself, which I'm sure that the people over on Tumblr were aware of and I'm typing fast and not checking back, so now that I think of it I may just be confused; Dave and Erika were saying that they consider Ke$ha's tears of a party clown song one of her worst; I'd place it in the middle; it has a nice tune.)

But then again, I don't know if Lil Jon or Kid Rock ever did a song about brushing their teeth with Jack. I wouldn't put it past the Ying Yang Twins, however; though I'd hope that they wouldn't follow it up in concert with "Wait (The Whisper Song)."

Seems to me that Rebel Without A Pause did have sad emptiness songs

Yeah, I'd probably put "Only God Knows Why" and "Black Chic, white Guy" in that category. And as Kid's gotten more country tears-in-your-beer sorry-for-himself later in life, I'd guess that his sad emptiness quotient has increased, if anything.

But okay, I do see how I probably misread that (twice) now.

That was me (http://aceterrier.tumblr.com) who wrote that, and I'm positive that Chuck's right and I'm wrong about people not taking Kid Rock and 3OH!3 to task for their consequence-free party-hearty music; I just haven't seen any of that taking-to-task. (Where have I been? Mostly listening to very old music; I've only really started trying to participate in current pop discussions within the last year.)

And also of course Kid Rock addresses the emptiness plenty. (I don't know 3OH!3 beyond the one hit, or Lil Jon beyond his guestwork.)

Just another girl alone at the bar

koganbot

2010-03-06 09:23 pm (UTC)

Welcome Mr/Ms Terrier. I generally find your commentary to be ace, and would hope that you continue to visit us.

30H!3 do address the emptiness, but in a rather empty way. "Don't Trust Me" and "Starstrukk" are no Earrings Of Madame De..., that's for sure. (Earrings is the superb Max Ophuls flick in which Charles Boyer declares to Danielle Darrieux, "Our marriage is only superficially superficial.") I justified my liking for "Don't Trust Me" over on poptimists' Yet Another Year In Pop.

Rebel Without A Pause is actually Devil Without A Cause. ("Rebel Without A Pause" is a Public Enemy song.)

Didn't some of you decide last year on that ilX GaGa thread that she was old Belgian new beat?

Well, somebody decided that -- wasn't me, or anybody whose name I recogized at the time -- and I liked the idea, but had no idea whether they were right or wrong about the issue. I'd guess, though, that Belgian new beat (inasmuch as I've heard it) and bosh (at least in the Scooter sense) are probably not all that far apart in the first place (though maybe it's mostly just the uber-Aryan Sprocket-rap vocal style those two have in common, I dunno. Which also makes me wonder how much, say, Real McCoy or Rammstein songs that have hit in the States fit into the bosh equation.) (Okay, Real McCoy were early. And I'm joking about Rammstein. I think.)

Also, re Shooter btw: If you haven't already, you should read what's been said on ILM Rolling Country and Rolling Hard Rock about his strange, audacious, and mostly pretty awful new art-grunge-metal tea-party-era police-state conspiracy concept album featuring Stephen King. (George Smith also mentioned that Shooter had been in failed L.A. glam metal bands before his country career, which I somehow wasn't aware of myself.)

yammer yammer yammer (cf. woolly bully, a-hip a-hop, womp bomp a loo bomp, dang digga dang d-dang d-dang diggy diggy)


Gotta say this -- which I'm probably taking out of context, since I haven't absorbed your entire spiel -- is perplexing me a little too, given that one thing that's been so obviously great about all the Gaga hits in the past year (which I've pointed out repeatedly) is their unabashed reliance on goofy repeated nonsense syllables. Of course, Gaga doing it doesn't negate Ke$ha doing it, but I'm not sure how Ke$ha is doing it better (maybe you think hers are more in your face? She does put them in the song title, after all.)

And actually, personally, I'd say that, compared to Gaga or Sam the Sham or Little Richard or Sugarhill Gang or Kid Rock, Ke$sha's blah-blah-blah's feel considerably less in my face! They sound kind of bored -- and, uh, blah, when she could instead be using them to, say, propel the beat. (Though I do get the idea that, by her yammering, you might actually be referring to the rest of her words there.)

GaGa's nonsense syllables always sound gentle and lyrical (though not lyric-al)!

But what was on my mind was that "blah blah blah" should be taken more as nonsense syllables than as belonging to whatever Ke$ha might think that she's saying in the lyrics (so I'm extracting "blah blah blah" from the idea that Ke$ha may be making a comment on partying [which she may well be doing; I haven't gotten that far in figuring her out; but blah blah blah as party enhancer supersedes any commentary that it may contain, is my point] - this was in reaction to Dave and Sabina's and Erika's focus yesterday, which is a fine focus, but isn't fundamental to what I was reacting to in "Blah Blah Blah").

I'm not sure how Ke$ha is doing it better

I don't think you and I are quite having the same conversation. I mean, the first person I know of to love "Just Dance" was me. But for what it's worth I don't think GaGa is even trying to get in our face with her sound. In any event, that's not what I value in it. (My three favorites of hers are "Just Dance" and "Paparazzi" and that guest spot she did for Wale.) She and her collaborators are creating nice tunes and good grooves, and building up from there. I don't think "Blah Blah Blah" and "Wild Thing" are what she's aiming for.

Hmmm...maybe part of the reason we're not having the same conversation is that we value different things about Gaga; my favorites by her are probably "Bad Romance" and "Pokerface," which don't sound gentle to me at all, in their nonsense syllablizing or otherwise. They kick. And they're also where her Europop influence is probaby most blatant, given their hooks taken from Boney M and Aqua and all -- a couple of which are the same as her nonsense syllables! (Not saying they're "Wild Thing," obviously -- and obviously, again, if I was hearing much "Wild Thing" in "Blah Blah Blah" myself we might not be talking around each other so much. To me, after its opening, it sounds timid to me compared to the Gaga songs I love most. But then, so do the Gaga songs you love most.)

Well, parts of those two Gaga songs do sound gentle to me, I suppose -- the beautiful parts! Just don't think I'd characterize Gaga's vocals that way, in general. (For what it's worth, "Just Dance" initially hit me as as so-what average as "Blah Blah Blah" is hitting me now, and it wound up growing on me later. So I'm not denying that the same thing could happen with Ke$ha's song. And I do get the idea that, whether we're talking "Mony Mony" or Ke$ha or plenty of '00s hip-hop, my ears don't always tend to notice lots of the allegedly jarring and interesting studio noise or what- have-you that people insist is happening in the margins. Just flies right by me sometimes, apparently. Though then again, if it's not actually jarring me, it may not be doing its job.)

Flipper's "Sex Bomb" (walking sludge that lifts itself up until it's thundering across the landscape) married to the dance-insistence of "Into The Groove

Ha ha, isn't this what Sonic Youth (as "Ciccone Youth") were blatantly trying to do on their "Into The Groovey" 7-inch? And much as I hate to say it, from my current vantage point, they did it a lot better. (Though if I was actually hearing either "Sex Bomb" or "Into The Groove" in "Blah Blah Blah" I might think otherwise. Honestly, musically my favorite part of the song might actually be those repeated jolts of metal guitar noise that sound like they're being turntabled in in that aforementioned first 18 seconds. My ears tell me they disappear after that, but maybe they just become more subtle, and I'll notice them later. Though, the way people describe this song, subtlety should not be an issue.)

The girl who put the FUN back into dysfunctional

koganbot

2010-03-05 06:14 pm (UTC)

OK, now, POTENTIAL INSIGHT!

Both Ke$ha and Ying Yang Twins are making a big thing of their behavior's dysfunction as part of what makes it fun. Ying Yang Twins: "Got so drunk he fucked the floor! FUCKED THE FLOOR? Yeah, fucked the floor." But my initial impression (more from reading what others are saying than from my own research into and pondering of the matter), is that Ke$ha is willing to wave DYSFUNCTION as a banner, not in sadness but in pride for how far over the edge she'll go, while for the Ying Yangs it's the over the top and onto the floor FUN that they're waving. The Ying Yangs are regular old partying taken to extremes, while Ke$ha is EXTREME PARTYING.

Do you think that holds as a distinction?

Re: The girl who put the FUN back into dysfunctional

skyecaptain

2010-03-05 07:40 pm (UTC)

I'd agree that Ke$ha is doing something that is not "regular old partying," but I'm not sure I'd call the distinction "Extreme Partying" by any means. She hasn't pushed partying into some new area, but rather approaches partying from a bizarre vantage point, from which partying becomes "partying." Part of my fascination with her is that I still hear a party even though logic is telling me that she doesn't quite understand what a party actually is. And it's in this disconnect that I'm projecting something like sadness (here is someone rendered pathetic by their pursuit for fun -- someone who doesn't really sound like they're having any fun at all).

There's a kind of alchemy happening, wherein the content that tells me that this person has no understanding of actual joy beyond accidental weirdness or cliche (which is not something I'd ever claim of Ying Yang Twins) is still inspiring actual joy in me. There's a difference from the other Lukeites, who sound like they're dressing up (poorly, in my opinion, but that's not really the relevant thing) -- there's no "other thing" (depth thing) to compare Ke$ha to, hence this weird character just kind of sits there in the center of everything. She neither invites nor discourages the party, it just happens around her.

Re: The girl who put the FUN back into dysfunctional

koganbot

2010-03-05 08:30 pm (UTC)

Instead of "extreme partying," maybe... well, I think what I'm trying to get at is that she is willing to go to any lengths and suffer any consequences to have her party, and then try to make that seem like a virtue, make the vomit the symbol of the good time. (If that's true. Still haven't delved into the words much.) A crack ho also goes to any lengths, but probably doesn't parade then parade the degradation as an emblem of the experience's fun and value. (Well, I wouldn't know. Haven't done a survey of crack ho's recently.)

So, what would be the right term for what seems a determinedly low-rent way of going to any lengths and suffering any consequences to have her party, and then trying to make that a virtue, the vomit being the symbol of the good time?

("Hungover" wouldn't fit this, but it's mediocre, so let's forget it.)

Re: The girl who put the FUN back into dysfunctional

skyecaptain

2010-03-05 08:53 pm (UTC)

Hmmm. Well, what you're describing is something like a gas-huffer, really! But I guess you're also describing something like a Midas touch -- take all the ugliness and all the generally-badness (this includes cliche as much as it includes vomit) and turn it into PARTY. All signs point to party, become a feature of that party. Where most people have a party, Ke$ha seems to be in possession (or in the jaws of) a PARTY MONSTER.

So inadvertently (I presume) her generic title takes on an interesting meaning -- the party itself (not Ke$ha) is the wild animal. She's the hapless person who thinks she's controlling the damn thing, without realizing that being carried in its jaws is not necessarily the same thing as riding it.

Re: The girl who put the FUN back into dysfunctional

skyecaptain

2010-03-05 08:59 pm (UTC)

This also means that in a given Ke$ha song, the subject is not really Ke$ha, but the monstrosity itself, with Ke$ha being something of a red herring in her own material.

Re: The girl who put the FUN back into dysfunctional

skyecaptain

2010-03-07 03:13 am (UTC)

Another thought -- Ying Yangs take partying to extremes, but Ke$ha turns partying into a pathology. Still not sure how the down-a-notch numbers fit in here though and think I'm being overly selective in my reading by ignoring them. The album is a bit like the Veronicas debut where the convo outpaces the album as a whole.

Re: The girl who put the FUN back into dysfunctional

koganbot

2010-03-07 03:58 am (UTC)

Or the lyrics outshout the sound in a lot of people's commentary. As for sound, "TiK ToK" and "Blah Blah Blah" are the most aggressive tracks on the album; I was surprised at how much the rest is down-a-notch.

What I'm trying to get at here, though, isn't so much how you and I perceive Ke$ha (or the discrepancy between her presentation and how we perceive her), but what her party is straight-up signifying about itself. My saying "EXTREME" might or might not be steering us wrong. The party in "Party At A Rich Dude's House" is OPPORTUNISTIC: you can trash his living room and throw up in his closet, since he can always replace his wardrobe and buy a new living room. So the party is like a tide that simply looks for where it can settle in, finding this place or that place to unfurl. (Think I'm mixing my metaphors there.) The fact that "vomit" can be a positive signifier and not as beat or rock or punk flaunting of self-destruction but as a form of vibrant life (or something?) is what I'm trying to make something of, so "pathology" isn't the right word either. "Mess" might be what I'm looking for. Ke$ha the messa.

Think of how hangovers are portrayed in popular culture: the treatment tends to be half-comic and half congratulatory (unless it's a serious TV problem movie about alcoholism or addiction). Whereas irl a hangover might be a sign of fucking up and that the person is in trouble and the body is breaking down. Ke$ha's "Hungover," uncharacteristically, goes for the irl version, and doesn't seem to fit with the album (and is the third-least-good song on there), though I suppose it makes perfect sense as a cheesy bit of abyss-staring rounding out an album full of blatant partying.

Re: The girl who put the FUN back into dysfunctional

(Anonymous)

2010-03-07 06:05 pm (UTC)

Actually starting to think the sensibility (of her whole thing sorta, but especially the hilarious "Party At A Rich Dude's House" even if Ke$ha's theoretically young & broke rather than young a& rich in it herself) reminds me more of the Tubes' (pre-"punk") "White Punks On Dope" than any of the other predessor so-far named, to wit:

Teenage had a race for the night time
Spent my cash on every high I could find
Wasted time in every school in L.A.
Getting loose, I didn't care what the kids say

We're white punks on dope
Mom & Dad moved to Hollywood
Hang myself when I get enough rope
Can't clean up, though I know I should

Other dudes are living in the ghetto
But born in Pacific Heights don't seem much betto

I go crazy 'cause my folks are so fucking rich
Have to score when I get that rich white punk itch
Sounds real classy, living in a chateau
So lonely, all the other kids will never know


Maybe other Tubes songs too; gotta give that more thought.

Also thinking that "Hungover," as hangdog as it kinda sounds, is probably my favorite of Ke$ha's (what are, three or four? maybe even five? I keep losing count) not-so-great ballads, which are probably in general, where she's at her most Katy Perry-like (though "Animal" sounds like she's maybe trying to do a Kate Bush thing instead I guess. And "Stephen," which is only an almost ballad, reminds me of Katy, too. So, still having trouble hearing Ke$ha as that big a leap from other suburban girl burlesques from the past couple years -- only song that really reminds of Daphne and Celeste or L'Trimm tbh is the also hilarious "D.I.N.O.$.A.U.R.," though my wife actually mentioned Northern State. Though there are moments in some songs, like e.g. that great part about a minute into "Rich Dude's House" where her voice gets all gravely and she imitates the synth hook, kinda playing drunken air guitar with her mouth. I could imagine Daphne & Celeste doing that, for sure.)

Songs I still really don't care about one way or the other: "Your Love Is My Drug," "Blind," "Dancing With Tears In My Eyes," "Animal." On the cusp of caring, maybe; we'll see: "Stephen," "Hungover," "Boots & Boys."

Btw, has anybody talked about / tried to figure out / explained / voiced any opinion whatsoever about the 3Oh!3 dude's cameo part in "Blah Blah Blah"? Maybe I should go back and re-read the Jukebox reviews. (Maybe I should meet them in the back with a jack by the Jukebox.) I can't figure out if it actually adds something or not.

Re: The girl who put the FUN back into dysfunctional

chuckeddy

2010-03-07 06:20 pm (UTC)

Oops, this comment above was me, though I figure you'd have figured that out already, from the, uh, tone. And as you've probably also figured out, the album has been growing on me. (Do think she's something new, and not nearly as Gaga like as I suggest above -- and usually not Katy Perry like either. Just not all that dumbfounded by her newness, and as I think Frank suggested already re: the way she only parties-all-the-time some of the time, I'm a bit confused by people seeming to imply that she's just one thing.)

Inner CD sleeve picture with the Tyrannosaurus and manatees and cheetahs and space penguins surrounding her looks really awesome, btw. Also didn't notice until I finally opened the booklet yesterday that part of the album -- "D.I.N.O." and partly "Hungover" at least -- was recorded with Max Martin in Stockholm rather than just Luke (and others) in L.A. Haven't studied the credits in detail yet, though. (Not sure I will).

And oh yeah, my wife (who didn't like the album much at all when we were playing it in the car yesterday) also pointed out that "Back$tabber" stands out by being in a minor key.

Re: The girl who put the FUN back into dysfunctional

chuckeddy

2010-03-07 06:28 pm (UTC)

(PS: Also, when I say the ballads recall "Katy Perry", it's possible that what I really mean by "Katy Perry" is "Pink.")

Re: The girl who put the FUN back into dysfunctional

chuckeddy

2010-03-08 04:55 pm (UTC)

Uh...Now "Stephen" is sounding like Lily Allen in my head for some reason. That can't be right, can it? (Ann Powers called it "space-country" in her [i]L.A. Times[/i] review, which seems off to me but I like the idea. Also wondering which parts of Ke$ha's album reminded her of Big & Rich -- weird.)

Re: The girl who put the FUN back into dysfunctional

koganbot

2010-03-08 06:02 pm (UTC)

I replied here on my new thread since if we add a few more posts to this thread lj is going to start nesting the subthreads, which'll make it a fucking pain in the ass to read.

Re: The girl who put the FUN back into dysfunctional

chuckeddy

2010-03-07 07:06 pm (UTC)

"vomit" can be a positive signifier ... a form of vibrant life

The Dictators, 1975:

My favorite part of growing up
Is when I'm sick and throwing up
It's the dues you've got to pay
For eating burgers every day
("Master Race Rock")

Soon he threw up in the store
But if he does it anymore
I'll make him eat it off the floor
("Weekend")

Bruce Springsteen, same year, interestingly enough:

I broke all the rules, strafed my old high school, never once gave thought to landing,
I hid in the clouded warmth of the crowd but when they said "Come down" I threw up
Ooh-ooh growin' up


(Actually, looking over all those Dictators Go Girl Crazy lyrics again, maybe they had more Ke$ha in them than the Tubes after all.)

Re: The girl who put the FUN back into dysfunctional

chuckeddy

2010-03-07 07:14 pm (UTC)

Oops, Bruce's grow up/throw up almost-rhyme actually '73 (his debut LP) not '75. (Not sure if the Dics were fans, or not.)

Re: The girl who put the FUN back into dysfunctional

koganbot

2010-03-05 08:40 pm (UTC)

And significantly, the vomiting doesn't symbolize "suffering" or "depth." (Or anyway, I don't take it that it's supposed to symbolize suffering or depth.)

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