Sometimes artists break out in unexpected ways between albums, doing something new and unpredictable, or exhibiting a more mature perspective on life than they had earlier in their career. It's always refreshing when that happens.
Alas, such is not the case with Ke$ha.
Earlier this year, the pop singer told Rolling Stone, "I'm trying to keep the rock 'n' roll mentality—'Let's destroy s‑‑‑ and party and get laid!'" That's pretty much the mindset that permeated the songs from Ke$ha's first full-length album, Animal, and the truncated EP, Cannibal, that followed. And if "Die Young" is at all representative of what to expect on her new album, Warrior, she's still quite infatuated with living the hard, fast and supposedly regret-free life of a "real" rocker.
Co-written and produced by pop maestro Dr. Luke, with assistance from fun. frontman Nate Ruess, among others, "Die Young" offers a flesh-obsessed, consequence-free take on that whole hyper-carpe diem thing. Specifically, Ke$ha finds herself on the dance floor with someone she's got a hankerin' for, and she'd like to make the most of that chemistry—never mind that he came in with someone else. "I hear your heart beat to the beat of the drums/Oh what a shame that you came here with someone/So while you're here in my arms/Let's make the most of the night like we're gonna die young."
Further romanticizing a lifestyle lived with no thought of tomorrow, the chorus repeats gleefully, "We're gonna die young/We're gonna die young/Let's make the most of the night like we're gonna die young."
Ke$ha continues to unpack exactly what making the most of such a life looks like in subsequent verses: "Young hearts, out our minds/Runnin' till we outta time/Livin' hard just like we should/ … Lookin' for some trouble tonight/Take my hand, I'll show you the wild side."
Of course, when you're looking for trouble, odds are you're going to find it. And in this case, Ke$sha amps up the carnality quotient another couple of notches when she spies some drunk hunks stripping on the dance floor. That prompts crude commentary about how they look in their tight skivvies. "Young hunks, taking shots/Strippin' down to dirty socks/Music up, gettin' hot/Kiss me, give me all you got," she coos. "It's pretty obvious that you've got a crush (you know)/That magic in your pants, it's makin' me blush (for sure)."
Or not (for sure).
Rock 'n' roll does indeed have a long history of throwing caution to the wind and tossing cultural mores out the window in the name of rebellion and shock. But Ke$ha's conception of the "good life" hardly feels shocking in 2012. Mostly it just feels sad and shallow, devoid of any meaning beyond the cheap, momentarily "thrills" of cheating and lusting.
Because when the best vision of life you can muster is leering at a bunch of inebriated guys in their underwear and dirty socks, well, let's just say that even the rebels who pioneered the whole defiant rocker cliché would probably roll their eyes and hide their heads in shame if they had to listen to "Die Young."