You can call me a hater or a cynic if you want, but I keep waiting for the whole Ke$ha thing to, um, blow over.
That’s because at first, second and even third glance, she looks like little more than a prefab, trashed-up mash-up of Madonna, Britney and Gaga. Take away the excessive glitter applications, Auto-Tune and hit manufacturers Max Martin and Dr. Luke, I submit, and what are you left with?
And yet …
Ke$ha keeps charting hits as big as any of the artists she arguably imitates. The most recent? “Blow,” which is her sixth consecutive Top 10 entry (and the second from her EP Cannibal) in the 15 months since ” TiK ToK” first topped the charts. For those keeping score at home, even the seemingly ubiquitous Lady Gaga has only had four Top 10 hits during the same time period.
Sonically, Ke$ha’s latest doesn’t deviate even one iota from the formula she’s firmly established. “Blow” dishes out another dose of pulsating, trash-tastic dance-club pyrotechnics. As the lyrical proceedings commence, Ke$ha practically bursts with braggadocio about getting into an exclusive club (“Back door cracked/We don’t need a key/We get in for free”), after which she leads her lucky entourage (“Follow my lead/Now you’re one of us/You’re coming with me”) into a coup-like siege of the dance floor: “Tonight we’re taking over, no one’s getting out/This place about to blow.”
Keep listening, though, and Ke$ha trades in her militaristic dance-revolution swagger for a psychological disclaimer—as in, grrl’s ’bout ta go CRAZY!: “It’s time to lose your mind and let the crazy out,” she chants. “Go, go, go, go insane.”
And speaking of letting the crazy out, let’s talk about the video.
If the music itself is predictable and the lyrics actually less dicey than several of her previous hits, the video romps its way into bizarro land. It begins with a disclaimer: “No mythological creatures were harmed in the making of this video.”
Right on, then. What’s next?
Since you asked, it’s a scene showing a champagne-sipping Ke$ha at a posh dinner party telling two well-dressed, wide-eyed unicorns, “So I grabbed the bear by the throat, looked him right in the eyes and said, ‘Bear, you have until the count of zero to put some pants on and apologize to the president.’ And, um, that’s the story of how I was elected to the parliament of Uzbekistan.”
Then the music starts. And things weird up another significant notch when former Dawson’s Creek star James Van Der Beek turns up playing either himself or a suave pseudo-secret agent who shares his name. You choose. In what feels like a campy ode to The Spy Who Loved Me meets Mr. & Mrs. Smith, the pair make googly eyes at each other before Ke$ha begins writhing suggestively and yanks a bra out from beneath her dress. Van Der Beek calmly returns the gesture in kind, pulling another one from inside his buttoned-up shirt. Oh, and Ke$ha also licks one unicorn and kisses another.
That kooky sensuality devolves into even kookier mock violence after a round of name-calling. Ke$ha mockingly dubs her nemesis “James Van Der Douche.” To which he responds, “I don’t appreciate you slander Beeking my name, Ke dollar sign a.” A gunfight with laser pistols ensues, with lots of unicorns getting the worst of it (their wounds exploding into rainbow bursts).
OK, OK, I’ll skip to the end already: The actor’s head winds up as a wide-eyed trophy on Ke$ha’s wall, with the words “James Van Der Dead” visible underneath. Ke$ha cackles crazily in the foreground.
Go, go, go, go insane indeed.
After serving as an associate editor at NavPress’ Discipleship Journal and consulting editor for Current Thoughts and Trends, Adam now oversees the editing and publishing of Plugged In’s reviews.