Warrior starts with static. There’s no genuine music, just a noise rather like millions of crickets or fingernails scratching wood. It’s not exactly pleasant.
But, it intrigues. Perhaps that’s the only thing that drew me to listen to Ke$ha’s newest album – a simple curiosity. And, of course, as they say … curiosity killed the A&E editor.
Ke$ha, whose debut album, Animal, topped the charts in 2010, has become one of pop music’s iconic figures. Appearing initially in Flo Rida’s “Right Round”, she’s since released singles “Tik Tok”, “We R Who We R” and “Blow”, among others. Her hardcore style and obscene lyrics have made her both a sex symbol and rockstar, comparable to Lady Gaga and Britney Spears.
As I continued listening to Warrior, the static eventually subsided to an actual electronic thrum and the sound of Ke$ha’s voice. Thus, “Warrior,” the title track begins, and we enter the artist’s world of rebellion, over-confidence and auto-tuning.
Sure, it’s catchy, with a pulsing beat full of energy. It makes the listener want to get up and go fight. Or dance. Or hit their head against the wall. It all depends on perspective.
If you’re alright with explicit lyrics and themes, Ke$ha’s your gal. She isn’t afraid to tackle sex, drugs, alcohol, cheating, lying or stealing. Sometimes she offers a unique perspective, as in “Wherever You Are”, singing “red wine and whiskey on your tongue, tangled up in your sheets, you saw the real me, you give me something to believe.”
Other times, she’s blatant and ugly; in “C’Mon”, she sings “feeling like I’m a high schooler, sipping on a warm wine cooler. Hot ’cause the party don’t stop, I’m in a crop top like I’m working at Hooters.”
Yet the girl does reveal she has a heart. In “Wonderland”, some of the craziness is slewn aside, and Ke$ha exposes a naivety, an insecurity and a longing that isn’t present in her other songs. She sings about living on spare change, sleeping in her car and enjoying the simplicities of youth and friendship.
Simply put, Ke$ha’s soul is in the music. It’s clear her life experiences fuel her intensity. She’s got decent chops; she hits some high notes and can bring it down low when she’s angry. But, to be plain, her intensity is almost overbearing. And most of those “high notes” are heavily auto-tuned.
Warrior is a step above Animal. But it’s still a significant step below what makes music musical.
By Lauren Puckett