Album Review: Ke$ha's 'Cannibal'
Ke$ha sings “We’re pretty and sick/we’re young and we’re bored” in “Blow” —it’s not about what you think—one of the nine new songs on “Cannibal,” out today.
In that single phrase, she neatly sums up the Ke$ha ethos, if we can be so highbrow as to call it that. Socrates said the unexamined life isn’t worth living. This would not be Ke$ha’s belief. Hers is a world where every night is Friday night— a chance to blow off steam, get stumbling drunk, and if you’re really lucky, pick up a guy for a one-night stand or achieve your dream of sleeping in your car or couch surfing. The road goes on forever and the party never ends.
The title track shows off her fairly dexterous spoken delivery despite the absolute inanity of lyrics, including tackily invoking a notorious mass murderer: “Be too sweet and you’ll be a goner/Yep, I’ll pull a Jeffrey Dahmer,” she says. And yet, since she’s so classy, she substitutes “ass” for a more medically correct term: “Now that I’m famous/ you’re up my anus,” she tells a boyfriend.
If you liked her major label debut, “Animal”—and more than a million of you did— there’s plenty more to appreciate on “Cannibal.” First single, that great self-acceptance anthem, “We R Who We R,” entered the Billboard Hot 100 at No. 1. With its rat-a-tat beat, “Sleazy” is easily the most interesting song on the album (as well as the one with a compelling—did I just write that?— sung chorus). On “Grow a Pear,” she had me laughing out loud with the line “I just can’t date a dude with a vag,” about her ex and his effete ways.
In less than a year, Ke$ha has completely established her swaggering —and often staggering —character. But there are indications that she is finding the party life a bit of a gilded cage and she wants to spread her wings. On “The Harold Song” Ke$ha shows she has a heart and it turns out it’s been horribly broken by Harold. Wait... what if all the tough girl braggadocio is really just a front to cover for her sensitive side? Nah....
Though her rhyming is often on the skill level of a first grader, there are several times she doesn’t take the easy out, such as on “Blow,” or on the largely sung (as opposed to spoken) “C U Next Tuesday,” which is not about what the saying has come to stand for. In Ke$ha’s world, isn’t that a bit of a squandered opportunity? Subtlety will never be her strong suit. But she’s the crude party girl who is hip to her talents. “I know I’m the new bitch on the block,” she sings, making it sound like a compliment. “I got here by running my mouth.” And that she can do in spades.