– Jacob O’Gara
I begin this post with only the most tenuous grasp on what about its subject I’m going to write. As suggested in the title, the purpose of this entry is to provide notes toward a theory on Ke$ha, one of the more bawdy pop acts in the post-Gaga musical age.
She lacks the faux innocence and self-destructive tragedy of Britney Spears or the post-modernism and wit of Lady Gaga, yet Ke$ha somehow managed to force herself, in all her lipstick-smeared and torn-leggings glory, onto the culture.
As one Facebook page asserts, Ke$ha seems to be like Taylor Swift—the current pop princess of wholesome, all-American innocence—if Swift started using crack cocaine. She’s the dark, demented flipside to the blonde, beauty pageant-ready look. Whereas a Taylor Swift uses makeup to enhance her beauty, a Ke$ha uses makeup to distort it.
When her breakout single, “Tik Tok,” was released, critics immediately compared Ke$ha to Lady Gaga, since they have both sung about clubbing and other nightlife activities. Such comparisons are cheap and demonstrate incredibly shallow thinking. Lady Gaga is more European and introspective in her sensibilities; Ke$ha’s all about, as she says, “boys, boots, beer, [and] boobs.”
However, the two singers do have a commonality: both have a surprisingly rigorous intellectual background. Gaga was admitted into the Tisch School of Arts at NYU at the age of seventeen, and her former gender studies teacher has said her essays regarding politics, gender, and race were brilliantly written and argued.
In high school, Ke$ha had “near-perfect” SAT scores, was involved in the international baccalaureate program, and would drive to the nearby university to listen in on lectures about Cold War history. A strange start for someone who would later sing about using whiskey as part of her dental hygiene plan.
What does this all mean though?
Does her intellectual curiosity during her high school days cast a shadow of a doubt over the authenticity of her “boys, boots, beer” manifesto? Perhaps after going west in search of fame and fortune, she fried her brain on Jack Daniel’s and crack cocaine, and now she’s this glitter-covered party ogre with sun-bleached hair.
Maybe, though, the true message of Ke$ha is that you can be both of these things. You can score well on the SAT and look like a “pimp in [your] gold Trans Am.”
You can know the intricacies of America’s relationship with the former Soviet Union and feel like P. Diddy when you rise from bed in the morning. There’s a little bit of Ke$ha in all of us, mainly because there’s a little bit of all of us in Ke$ha.
I’m going to let you finish, Taylor Swift, but Ke$ha is the best representation of today’s American society of all time. Of all time.