Ke$ha, `the girl' from Flo Rida's "Right Round," releases an album of her own in early 2010 very similar in theme to that of Lene Alexandra's, for those who are familiar with her. It's an album which exudes a crystal clear persona and message through its lyrics and the performer behind them, and what it exudes is guaranteed to garner a plethora of negative critical response, scowls and gasps of shock from critics and parents alike. Briefly after its release, `Animal' is already boasting a #1 lead single (the most downloaded single of the year, in fact), a so-far-unreleased album cut ("Blah Blah Blah") shooting to #2 on the iTunes Top Charts and a #1 spot on the iTunes Top Albums Charts (which will inevitably lead to a #1 spot on Billboard); with all this, however, came an overload of predominantly negative critic reviews. So in essence, what we'd assume to have on our hands here is a musical version of Transformers 2. Unlike Transformers 2, however, Ke$ha's album is in fact fun and enjoyable, albeit vapid and free of substance.
The persona so many critics (and likely flabbergasted adults) are appalled with is the promiscuous, binge drinking partier Ke$ha plays on a large majority of her debut. Virtually every track brings mention of guzzling booze, screwing boys, and/or partying `til you projectile vomit. The recurring theme Ke$ha ultimately seems to be trying to push here is role reversal, essentially making a point to exude the stereotypically male attitude and mindset throughout her songs. `Just turn around boy, let me hit that, don't be a little b*tch with your chit-chat, just show me where your d*ck's at' she orders on one track, while another finds her repeatedly calling a male ex-lover a slut. The man-woman role reversal has been done before, but one has to ask, would this album be as shocking and would it garner as much negative attention if it came from a man? For most hip-hop artists and sexually-driven male singers, this sort of fare is startlingly commonplace-critics wouldn't think twice about hearing Snoop Dogg, R. Kelly or Eminem talk about rampant sex or getting wasted, but coming out of Ke$ha's blonde-haired, gum-cracking mouth it's suddenly worth blacklisting? This is likely because female singers under the age of 30 are immediately pigeonholed as role models, people who are supposed to set an example for the generation's youth; most specifically, young girls.
To enjoy Ke$ha's album, one must understand that they are listening to an entertainer, not a role model. Also like Lene Alexandra's album, the naughty lyrics are dressed up in infectious, head-spinning backbeats and production, thanks to production geniuses Dr. Luke and Max Martin; the genre Ke$ha tends to stick with is a dizzying blend of trashy dance-pop and thumping, pulsating electronica, a down-to-the-tee blend of Lady GaGa and Katy Perry. Naturally, as a result, the album comes off like the soundtrack to an endless night of clubbing. "TiK ToK," the highly popular lead single, more or less deserves its success-it's obscenely catchy and plays like the much-needed part 2 to GaGa's own "Just Dance." The album opener, "Your Love Is My Drug," isn't much different, with its dizzying stop-go thumps and loops. The thunderously infectious "Kiss N Tell" proceeds to follow the same formula, with an anthemic chorus loop chugging along to a surging electro-pop beat; it's her safest bet for single #2. The 3OH!3 collaboration "Blah Blah Blah" may be tied for that, actually-it's a pristine example of Ke$ha's seemingly trademark horny-drunk-girl lyrics paired with a beat so addictive even prudish listeners shouldn't have any complaints.
The vocals throughout the album are a mix of Gwen Stefani/Fergie-inspired bubblegum rapping and kittenish talk-singing, meaning in other words, no, she's no Christina Aguilera, but like most vocalists of that sort, she'll be instantly recognized on radio. Ke$ha's brief flashes of vulnerability work better than expected, and arrive in the tracklisting just around the time that the trashiness begins to wear thin. "Hungover" is the closest the album comes to a ballad, and it finds Ke$ha mourning over an ex, comparing her inability to get over him to-surprise surprise-a hangover. The song has a big, arena rock-style chorus and is her best bet for a sweeter, less morally questionable single. Similarly, "Blind" is one of the album's strongest tracks, boasting Avril Lavigne-esque angst and yet another larger-than-life anthemic chorus.
"Dancing With Tears In My Eyes" and the free-spirited title track also display the gentler side of Ke$ha, and tunes such as these can as a whole soften the blow of the album's vulgarity, but most listeners will find it difficult to enjoy `Animal' until they embrace it for what it is: a very of-the-moment, ironic slapstick raunch album that rides heavily on its exciting, infectious surge of electronic beats. It's debatable whether or not Ke$ha herself is in on the joke, but either way the one-dimensionality of it all allows her to sidestep the most common problem new artists stumble into: facelessness. She's solidly defined her persona and her music here, and admittedly it's one hell of a guiltily pleasurable ride, but it leaves one to wonder how she plans on building a long-term career out of this sort of thing.