Monday, December 10, 2012

This Warrior Won't Last Long

Do I like Ke$ha's new album? Yeah, it ain't half bad. I listened to it at work for three days straight over eight hour stretches, so obviously, the dirty glitter queen did something right. However, my overall sense is that Warrior sounds too much like Animal, Ke$ha's first record. This cements the notion that this girl is a moment in time and that moment is passing. Her look, her sound, everything about her screams 2010. Proof? Despite having a #2 single on the American charts, Warrior is expected to sell only 80k - 85k albums in its first week, which isn't too shabby except for the fact that its predecessor debuted with sales of 152k and it's competing with the likes of Rihanna's Unapologetic (238K), P!nk's The Truth About Love (281K), and Taylor Swift's Red (1.21 million). An album that likely cost upwards of $2 million to make needs to sell more. That's the bottom line.

It's hard to tell whose fault this is. I imagine it's a combination of both Ke$ha and Dr. Luke's. Dr. Luke and his co-producers (Cirkut, Benny Blanco, etc.) seem to be stuck in a cycle, releasing what sounds like the same old stuff. I'm surprised, because Dr. Luke is incredibly talented and had no trouble reinventing his style in the past, moving from POP-rock hits like U and Ur Hand to electro-POP like 'Till The World Ends. Should Ke$ha take some of the blame? She does seem like a free-spirit, but at the end of the day, her career is handled by Dr. Luke and his label, Kemosabe Entertainment, an imprint of Sony, so I'm suspicious of how much decision making power she actually possesses. When you (allegedly) operate as a corporation, as any global POP star does, various precautions are likely taken to ensure the business runs smoothly. Ke$ha's PR team seems to have done a great job organizing interviews in which she claims to be the person behind it all, but PR is PR (aka bullshizzle), so who knows what is in fact true?

What are my favorite tracks? C'mon, the proper successor to Tik Tok, is incredibly fun. Thinking of You has a beautiful, heart-wrenching chorus. In fact, the best parts of the record are the melodies that sound as though they were initially crafted as country ballads, which also include Wonderland - an ode to nostalgia and old friendships that features The Black Keys' Patrick Carney on drums, Last Goobye, and The Flaming Lips' produced Past Lives, which describes romance as time travel. These are the warm gooey insides, the pieces of molten chocolate cake savored by the fire with tall glasses of milk that every record needs.

Yes, Ke$ha will probably not experience the long stretches of POP-cultural impact enjoyed by Britney or Beyonce, but she will surely stick around in the more modest way Avril and Alanis have. Fortunately for us, Ke$ha holds so much talent, as indicated by the gorgeous tune she composed with The Flaming Lips. Past Lives proves that she can achieve greatness with just a guitar and Dr. Luke out of sight. I can't wait until the time comes when she stops attempting to be the POP-cultural juggernaut she once was.


Barry Gregory