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Don't be a little b1tch with your chit-chat
I take my critical stand in favor of... Ke$ha? Yeccch!

Great convo over on the Singles Jukebox, in full thrall even as I type this, about "Blah Blah Blah" which I reviewed at the last minute expecting to give it a 6 or so and discovered to my surprise that I was at a 9.

This was my Jukebox review:

Tunefully pretty clatter that's clatter nonetheless, fusillades of frosting from all sides, chocolate kisses battling with sugar squirts, totally blah-blah-blah appropriate. Wiseacres 3OH!3 show up sounding proper and somnolent in comparison and are instantly obliterated by Ke$ha's cotton-candy eruption.

And this was my comment, in response to Alex O. saying "She dares to be stupid and vapid and revels in it, and makes it sound attractive":

She may simply be stupid and vapid – I haven't done the research. She's probably just falling into clichés of the wild life as her path of least resistance, though I'd like to project desperation onto her in order to imagine depth. I hated her from the get-go and may still hate her. So I went into this thinking "catchy enough for a 6″ and came out with a 9; what happened is that I hooked into the high-pitched pretty chaos and the pulse that's quite a hot throb underneath and that pulls everything together, and as sound this began making "You Belong With Me" and "I Kissed A Girl" and "3″ and "I'm On A Boat" and "Loba" and "Tik Tok" and "Heels" and "Untouchable" and "Outta My Head" and "Wobble" and "Cry For You" and "Disturbia" seem too pale and bare and languid in comparison. As sound, that is.

In other words, this rocks. The nearest equivalent I can think of is Tommy James & The Shondells' "Mony Mony," and this has a throb that beats that.

Which doesn't necessarily make "Blah Blah Blah" better than all those – though maybe it does, my viscera often holding sway against everything else; but I'm not a one-issue voter. But if I were still thinking of going anywhere as a musician, I'd try to figure out what Ke$ha and her producers did here and ask myself, "How can I harness that?"


Tommy James & The Shondells

EDIT: Oh yes, and I spent half an hour last night doing a quick skim of John Leland's singles columns in Spin in the late '80s, unsuccessfully looking for what my memory told me was his recalling how he once said to his mom that he liked rock 'n' roll because it was noise, and by noise he meant Tommy James, not the Stooges. Maybe my memory is wrong here, and it was someone else, or my imagination.</failed fact check>
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I kind of like Ke$ha's homeless teen prossie vibe, tbh. XD; Like there's no way to take her party girl persona at surface value, because literally anyone who is like that in real life is deeply messed up and fronting for their self-esteem issues etc. So the assumption serves as well as the missing depth (there's not even a shorthand for the depth).

Actually I agree with you that this sounds good/immediate in the same way [The Shondells; I thought "early punk"; everyone on YTube says L'Trimm, which may be the FIRST TIME EVER I have derived an insight from YTube comments] does... I ought to have all sorts of sonic hangups about it but don't.

When I blurbed "Tik Tok" for the Jukebox I mentioned L'Trimm! (However, I said that Ke$ha barely belonged in the same sentence with L'Trimm. And the 6 I gave "Tik Tok" was too low by two points.

The Shondells were early punk! Or is that what you meant? (When Dave Marsh coined the term "punk rock" in 1971 he was talking about a ? And The Mysterians re-union gig, 1966 having been the year when ? And The Mysterians had their one hit, and when Tommy James had his first.)(But when Nick Tosches wrote "The Punk Muse" the summer before Marsh's piece, he was talking about the Heartbeats and Dylan.)

My nebulous thought was for the median of the stretch bracketed by the Shondells and L'Trimm (hence the half-assed math notation).

I think the one-dimensional thing is key here - we're only seeing her 'tough' outer shell, but said shell is actually see-through, there's nothing underneath that the shell is protecting. Why bother looking for cracks in the shell when you can see right out the other side anyway?

Actually, the way you describe it I almost want to defend the odd fragility of Ke$ha's persona. She's walking on a razorblade between fun and pathetic, party girl and alcoholic, funny and sad. She's both -- I've never heard the kind of alcoholism I saw in college drinking portrayed quite as bluntly than in Ke$ha's album. As Anthony says in his review, some of her details are just so weird and precise, and paint the picture of someone completely off the rails no matter how "calculated" that persona is. I wonder how much Ke$ha's drinking before she even goes out.

Anyway, the character as written and performed does kind of beg these questions, quite aggressively, in a way that most of pop's drinking culture doesn't. But at the same time I don't see any room for a satisfying way of "deepening" the character in any meaningful way; the contortions, for all their alternating calculation/control and genuine surprise are kind of the whole show. (Or to extend Kat's metaphor, when you start looking for depth in a piece of tissue paper you'll just end up ruining it -- but you'll also ignore the beauty and in this case strangeness that's right there on the surface.)

And yet I'm still not convinced that this whole Ke$ha thing isn't an elaborate marketing scheme for an upcoming music parody movie.

I admit that the spectacle may be *fascinating* to view from a distance (lol Ke$ha has fallen over in her own sick AGAIN) it's not something you actually want to experience first hand, holding her hair out of the way as her head's down the pan.

Still think that's a point in her favor, though. (Basically, I like how ugly it allows itself to be -- something Gaga, for all her savvy, fundamentally won't do; as far as I can tell she's never produced anything that's sonically or conceptually ugly outside of her music videos.)

Because Gaga is all about camp = rising out of the ugliness that's imposed on you by labelling fiat, yes?

I think this is the point too - the imposition of that self-defensive distance on the listener and - my, at least - inability to buy the surface msg on its own terms (it's not that there's nothing the shell is protecting, it's that the shell is see-through but the persona of the song doesn't realize this) is still a long ways from indifference.

The album as is can't really be deepened but one can wonder eg. where a second album might go (rehab?).

it's that the shell is see-through but the persona of the song doesn't realize this

I still think this is a point in Ke$ha's favor, somehow. I feel like there's something brutal about her (maybe her, maybe her "persona's") cluelessness, something genuinely shocking, but not at all for the reasons she wants to shock. And I think there's something to be said for the way in which Ke$ha somehow gets to a spectacle that's oddly uncontrolled, the antithesis of (I'd maybe say mannered?) Gaga spectacle, though I think they're doing different things and seem to like both of them now. But when I listen to Ke$ha my brow actually furrows, and I think about what the display sort of means, which is something I've never really been able to do with Gaga in a more visceral way, only abstractly, via costumes and videos and quotes etc. Her music doesn't make my jaw drop at all, which isn't to say it's bad, but that it's mising a certain kick in the gut that Ke$ha has, whether she means to or not (and if she means to, I don't think it kicks me in the gut in the way I think she means for it to).

"She stated that the title track of the album, which emulates the music of Flaming Lips and Arcade Fire, is the direction she would like to pursue on her next record."

I don't buy that Ke$ha's any more brutal or aggressive or out-of-control than the rest of pop's drinking culture, or even different in any interesting way. Last year alone the Paradiso Girls had you drunk and throwin' up/so! fucked! up!, Electrik Red had that drink in their cup, Jamie Foxx blamed it on the Goose. Going back further we have J-Kown getting tipsy, Trina forgetting where she parked and losing her iPhone, Sia drinking to get drunk and smoking til she's senseless, Lil' Kim being ready to fuck after three bottles, the entirety of Lil' Jon and Pitbull's careers. How is Ke$ha's persona remarkable in any way?

"She dares to be stupid and vapid" - how is this daring? How is it not what everyone else in pop does?

Pop's drinking culture and embrace of vapidity isn't bad in itself, but nor is it good in itself. What makes it good or bad is how you do it. And Ke$ha does it fucking terribly.

It's a matter of sounding in control despite singing about being out of it. Electrik Red and Jamie Foxx are completely in control of their songs -- they make it sharp and sexy. Ke$ha actually seems as out of control (and as clueless) as her music is saying she is, except there are two different "out of controls" here: one is the "outta control" wildness or whatever in the club and the other is out of control, of the song, of herself. The thing is that she's not quite inept, she's just...a little off, y'know?

That's a really fine review, Anthony. I guess I have to get the album now.

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