We are in the second week of the third month of 2010, and if the pop charts are any kind of measure, than the most important woman in the pop year to date is Kesha Rose Sebert, a twenty-three year old singer born in the San Fernando Valley and mostly raised in Nashville, who calls herself Ke$ha and pronounces the first syllable of her name to rhyme with bleah, or meh.
Read the whole thing, shit’s EPIC. I’m just posting assorted thoughts.
—Things I don’t think anyone’s mentioned about “Stephen”: the chorus is “nanny nanny boo boo,” (try it: “nanny nanny boo boo / why won’t you call me”) and during the bridge the 8-bit almost mockingly plays “Here Comes the Bride.” Also, she reminds me of Robyn’s spoken bit in “Be Mine!” on the “knit you a sweater line,” which somehow gets to something that disturbs me a little about the Robyn song, just a (probably totally projected) sense that maaaaybe this relationship wasn’t quite, er, the healthiest.
—She sounds like a teenager trying to get a rise out of an authority figure, phrasing her mockery in the form of a compliment in order to say “whut I said I liked it” and cackle with her friends when he goes predictably off.
Yes — somehow spelling it “whut” made that click for me! The other thing is that what seems to be happening here (IRL) is that Ke$ha is in the studio being automatically Autotuned, whether she’s singing or speaking, and is amused to see what it’s doing to her voice. It’s a moment dawning realization of the possibilities — “oh shit, I am about to annoy the FUCK out of some people on this album, heh heh heh.” She starts off hesitantly…”hey! Hey…so…ha ha ha” then “yer love…your love, your love…” she half-sings it to help bring out the Autotune, I mean, she still needs to sing right? And then “Tik Tok” happens. Ke$ha, a girl who could sing on key, is experimenting singing just slightly out of key to see where the boundary between her voice and the software is. (I’ve often complained that people who think Autotune is “ruining singing” is looking at Autotune the wrong way around — it’s not the electronic encroaching on the realm of the organic, it’s introducing the organic into the world of the electronic. It’s not a shitty human voice, it’s an awesome computer algorithm designed to emulate the human voice. Y’know, the Avatar technology of robot singing.
— the Martin/Luke factory isn’t really known for its quality control.
I think it’s also worth noting here that not since the original wave of Martin-led teenpop (Britney/Backstreet) has this particular cabal (Denniz Pop/Max Martin-Cheiron, later Dr. Luke and now Shellback) really shaped a whole album, or even attempted to. They have scattered hits, but they’re usually flukes or one-offs in the scheme of that artist’s career; this is even true of the epicenter for the Max/Luke juggernaut — Kelly Clarkson, whose “Since U Been Gone” set the template for countless derivations but the bulk of whose material (prior to her most recent album) was moving toward the Hodges/Moody/Clif Magness darkness and hugeness of songs like “Addicted” and “Hear Me” — a lot of that sound shows up on My December, even though that album seemed to signify a total revamp to some pop commentators.
On the Ke$ha album, only 4 of 14 songs aren’t produced by Luke or Max (or Shellback, another up-and-comer who I think deserves mention with them — he’s co-responsible for “Party at a Rich Dude’s House” and has production credits on Britney’s Circus and P!nk’s “So What”). Katy Perry only has two bonafide Max/Luke tracks (“Hot n Cold” and “I Kissed a Girl”), plus Cheiron fave Andreas Carlsson on “Waking Up in Vegas.”
This means that as far as I’m aware Ke$ha is the first artist to actually receive the full Max/Luke treatment for a sustained effort, and with co-writing credits on every song (not true of all Max/Luke projects). It’s not just Ke$ha’s debut album; in a way it’s the first Dr. Luke album.
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