Voyou Désœuvré

What is it about Kesha that disorients people’s critical faculties? I suppose the Uffie comparisons sort of make sense, inasmuch as they’re both young women sort-of-rapping over electro-ish beats (the difference being that Kesha has funny lyrics and tunes). The same logic I suppose might lead to the Lady Gaga comparison’s, too, although the connection here is much more tenuous. The closest comparing the two might get to illuminating might be a SATs style analogy: Gaga is to New York as Kesha is to Los Angeles; the combination of a party-trash aesthetic and naive, heart-on-the-sleeve self-psychologizing is endearingly Californian. The comparison that’s most bizarre, though, is the suggestion that “Tik Tok” is a rip-off of Kylie’s “Love at First Sight”; well, the riff has a kind-of similar rhythm and contains a few of the same notes.

More than the desperate reaching for comparisons, though, I’m surprised by the vitriol of some of the reviews of Kesha’s album. I wonder if, say, some of the Amazon reviews aren’t a kind of rockist return of the repressed. Perhaps this is the truth of the Lady Gaga comparisons: a displacement of the criticisms of inauthenticity or shallowness that are so often leveled at pop artists, which people however feel somewhat uncomfortable leveling at the enthusiastically supported Gaga. Of course, Kesha isn’t anything like as interesting as Gaga, but her record is generally quite entertaining, especially the slightly 8-bit “Kiss N Tell,” and the Daphne and Celeste-esque “D.I.N.O.S.A.U.R.”

I wonder if part of the reason for the Gaga comparison is the paucity of American pop music to compare to. Or, rather, the disavowal of the relevant pop music, the R&B and hip-hop which Kesha’s electro-ey beats were surely influenced by. If you want a comparison, a  much better one would be Menya, though Menya are significantly better than Kesha (their funny filthy tracks are filthier and funnier, and their introspective tracks more affecting). Also, it’s clearly a sign that I’ve been reading too much Hegel that Kesha singing “I am in love/with what we are/not what we should be” makes me think of the preface to the Philosophy of Right.

Comments

  1. Anthony Paul Smith, 1:05 pm, February 7, 2010

    Actually Tik Tok is a rip off of tthhee ppaarrttyy by J.U.S.T.I.C.E.

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