To Ke$ha, With Love: A Plea For Sanity At Age 25
Photo by Marc Brubaker.
Happy birthday. If 18 and 21 are the "good" birthdays, and 30 and 40 are the "bad" birthdays, what do we make of turning 25? I like to look at the positive side of things: You're old enough to have grown up responsibilities, but young enough to still party hard and get away with it.
For me, birthdays are a time to take stock of the life lived and the future ahead. Right now you're working on your next album, trying to avoid the sophomore slump that hits so many artists while sticking out among the crowd of young female divas currently swapping the top spot on the charts.
As a fan of both your music and pop in general, I'm writing you this letter hoping that you'll really think about what you have planned for your next album and the next year ahead.
I'm worried about the future of pop music and you, dance commander, may be our only hope.
I imagine that the first time someone stretched out some animal hide and beat it with a stick rhythmically there was someone standing there with their arms crossed muttering "it just sounds like noise". As long as there is music there will be someone who complains about it.
A lot of people I know don't understand why I listen to your music. They see nothing more than the bastard child of "Fight For Your Right To Party" with the baseball caps and leather jackets replaced by body paint and glitter. They pine for a time where real artists made real music about real things with real emotions.
I think it's all rather silly. The same people that dislike your music are the same people that think "Big Balls" is hilarious and turn up the radio any time "Kickstart My Heart" comes on.
Now, I'll admit, I do think the fashion war that's been going on between you and your fellow pop divas is silly and distracting, but up until recently I've been willing to look past that because the music was good. If wearing a trash bag to the VMAs is edgy and keeps your name out there, then who am I to judge?
What worries me is that you'll make the same mistake so many other divas are making right now: trying to shock the public so that they don't notice that their songs stink.
Photo by Marc Brubaker.
Before I was an Animal (Team Bear), I was a Little Monster. However, I became significantly less interested in Gaga right after the Jo Calderone experiment at the VMAs. The Gaga I liked wrote kick-ass dance songs and made things that were visually interesting.
As she became more involved with her performance art, her music suffered. Born This Way might have sold a lot in week one, but she's been a ghost on the radio for most of the past six months.
At least she stopped at one alter ego. If my math is correct, Nicki Minaj could have her own Wu-Tang Clan made up of silly personae she's created. That live horror movie she did at the Grammy Awards got people talking, but for all the wrong reasons. People became so obsessed with a manufactured culture war they failed to notice that the song she performed sucked.
As for Rihanna and Chris Brown, I don't have anything new to add to the conversation. The situation isn't even that surprising. The seeds for those songs were planted months ago, on Twitter and in the press. The only question left is if her inability to carry a tour on her own means they hit the road together, bringing their drama to arenas across the country.
On the list of shocking behaviors, there isn't much left. Katy Perry already milked the fake lesbian thing and Amy Winehouse partied her way to an early grave, so unless you're planning on Vince Neil-ing Jessie J I'm at a loss for suggestions. If only you didn't already have a release titled Cannibal...
Jokes aside, the most important thing you can do right now is to stay in your lane. The market for your brand of party-pop is still there. If it weren't, Jay-Z wouldn't be throwing his weight behind Rita Ora and that awful "Party and Bullshit" song she just released.
So keep making songs about having fun and going crazy. Make them loud and obnoxious. Remind people that music can be fun and reckless. You'll have plenty of time to get deep and introspective in the future, once the right bad relationship comes along. You're only 25.
So party while you're still young, but make sure you can make it to the studio the next day. After all, you still have grown-up responsibilities.
Get the Music Newsletter