Still riding on the dual waves of success and controversy from her debut album Animal, party frat-girl songstress Ke$ha seeks to keep riding both waves with her second full-length album Warrior—a record that breaks no new ground, but essentially digs deeper ruts into the path she’s currently traveling.
A bit of a disclaimer is in order here: I’m probably not the best guy to be reviewing this record, because although I like pop music, what I call “trash pop” is by far my least favorite in the genre. I consider it a waste of talent, time and money to create dance/pop whose only apparent purpose is to glorify and encourage mindless, alcohol-driven lewdness for its own sake, and whose only apparent objective is to exploit the hormonally over-charged for their last farthing. It’s like brain-rape, only you have to pay for the privilege. I know that sounds prudish (I’m not a prude, really); let’s just say I’m not nearly as offended by Ke$ha’s potty-mouth as I am by the overall dumbing-down effect this kind of thing has on our culture. There are rap artists who are more lewd, for example, but in many cases there’s at least a reason behind it, and for that reason it’s somehow less offensive to my sensibilities.
So if that influences my overall review, forgive me, and if you don’t like what I have to say about it, go buy the record to spite me. I’m entitled to my opinion, as are you. That being said, I’m going to give my best attempt to get past the lyrical content and attitude of Ke$ha and Warrior, and just review the music on its own merit.
When I do that (and believe me, it’s a challenge)…I have to say the music is quite good for what it is. Yeah, if you think auto-tune is a phone-in, you probably won’t like this album—but then again, if you feel that way, you probably wouldn’t be listening to Ke$ha in the first place. When it comes to danceable, electro-pop, Warrior is well-produced and sonically brilliant, and behind all the tech, Ke$ha actually does have a good voice on her. From a pop music standpoint, the album is full of great hooks and melodies, and while many are simply intended to get the dance floor bouncing, that’s really what this music is for—so it works. The opening two tracks, “Warrior” and the lead single “Die Young,” are solid youth anthems that I have no doubt will be club favorites, and songs like “Crazy Kids” and “All That Matters (The Beautiful Life)” continue that vein.
There are a few times when Ke$ha does try to break out of the electro-pop vein just a little; sometimes it works, sometimes not. With “Dirty Love,” her duet with Iggy Pop, she tries to rock out, but it just feels like she’s trying too hard. On the other hand, “Wonderland” ventures more into a relaxed soul vibe, and she does a great job with it.
Comparing this record to Ke$ha’s previous stuff, it’s apparent that she knows she’s got a good thing going, so Warrior basically stays on track; the only main difference, perhaps, is that her prior success has apparently emboldened her to take off even more of the filters. Controversial or no, Ke$ha is definitely talented, and Warrior is a respectable sophomore project on its own.
I don’t have to like it personally to say as much.