Album Review: Kesha – Warrior
I’m entering into this venture very apprehensive about what I might hear. Kesha, and she shall henceforth be known as that, I’m not getting involved in that dollar $ign rubbish (we all know Kesha is in this for the art, not money) released her debut album in early 20120 and it contained little of true value. Before that, she had entered into the world of pop music as the pop-up bimbo vocalist on Flo Rida’s Dead or Alive rip off, but then she reappeared with her own album, Animal. It contained unbelievable monster hit Tik Tok, which sounded pretty similar to California Gurls (did you hear the mash up of the two of them?) , but was was a slight guilty pleasure of mine.
Obviously it was terrible in every sense of the word, but it did get me dancing in the discotheque and that takes some doing. I liked her ghastly lyrics about brushing her teeth with whiskey, a terrible oral hygiene routine (insert Kesha oral hygiene joke here) and I also liked her heavily autotuned vocals, which made her sound like a robot running on piss and stale beer. Kesha was basically a one-woman LMFAO, before LMFAO appeared, carving out a brief career as an entirely unnecessary two-man, uncle-nephew Kesha. I expected Tik Tok to be all we heard from Kesha, but several other top 10 singles followed, including the paltry Blah Blah Blah. Lord knows who was buying them, but they weren’t really quality tunes. Kesha then re-released her album like everyone else, with a few extra tracks tacked on, including Blow which had a pretty good video.
Kesha’s image at the time seemed to be unwashed hipster. As much as people joked that she had never had a shower, she must have had to apply all that grime before making an appearance, making a physical effort to make herself look revolting for the sake of being cool. Then any further blemishes were covered up with a hefty pouring of glitter, like a liberally-spread, metallic concealer.
For an idea of which image Kesha is going for now, since popstars have to have a different image for every new release, you only need to look at the cover for new album, Warrior. As you can see, she seems to be going for a slutty, robot-tribal-parrot look, which is an improvement on glitter and piss, so congratulations are in order there. The album cover as a whole is a shocker though; crudely pasted image onto stock background with weird colour settings applied, a lens flare at the top and two mismatched fonts. It’s all a bit work experience again, but that’s Kesha’s charm, ironically purposefully shoddy-looking .
But what is the music like? You may be expecting too much if you think Kesha has undergone an extreme transformation, but you could be pardoned, given the heavy media bombardment labelling Kesha a rockstar and exclaiming that she has worked with credible acts including car insurance salesman Iggy Pop, The Flaming Lips and The Strokes. It’s an improvement on Flo Rida and 3OH!3, I suppose but it’s hardly George Michael ft. Elton John, is it?
What about the music then? I’ve saved you the time by having a listen to them and highlighting the highs and lows.
Title tracks Warrior features an ear-piercing autotuned vocal and hook of warri-ori-ori-or. Just when you think Kesha is going to actually sing a song, she starts doing her talk-singing again and crashes all hopes of a step-forward. As soon as I put this on, both cats fled my side, so I suppose it has some benefit. Warrior is a simile-laden ode to being a misfit but being born to fight until the end etc. etc. I’m not sure how much fighting she’s done in her life so it’s perhaps a bit superficial but the song has a beautiful middle 8 that sounds like its straight out of Sonic the Hedgehog 2.
Most ‘Kesha’ lyric: ‘Cut the bull shit out with a dagger’.
Score on a board game scale: Yahtzee; It doesn’t look promising from the outset, there is a brief moment of excitement like when you roll all sixes, but ultimately you come out of it having gained nothing.
2. Die Young
Second up is first single Die Young. Kesha performed this on Graham Norton recently (performed being the operative word, she certainly didn’t sing much of it) and was thoroughly panned by Twitter users, but then anybody who appears on the box is torn about by Twitter’s unforgiving users (I should know). Die Young is about having a nice party and making the most of things before you die from an overdose or untreated infection. Lyrically it’s very similar to track one and structurally it’s sung chorus followed by weird talky verses again. There is a nice bit where she says ‘drum’ and it does a double drum whack, but there’s not much of any worth here either, just Kesha in party mode, doing shots again.
Most Kesha lyric: ‘That magic in your pants is making me blush’
Board game scale: Junior Monopoly. It’s the same as it’s always been, you can make as many versions of it as you like, even dumbing it down to child level, but it will never, ever be appealing.
From the name alone you know it’s going to be no Bridge Over Troubled Water, probably a song about partying, but books and covers and all that. Lyrically the song is about drinking, going to a party in clothing that would make your father have a fit, then pulling some jock, taking him home and manhandling his man handle. Kesha doesn’t want to go to sleep, she wants to stay up all night etc. She’s certainly not taking any risks. This will probably soundtrack many regrettable nights out, which is a sad state of affairs.
Most Kesha lyric: It’s Kesha by numbers, I’ll go for “Come, gimme some of that, yum like a lollipop’ or ‘I’m in a crop top like I’m working at Hooters’, so deep you shouldn’t be allowed near it without your 50 metres certificate.
Board game scale: Frustration. You’ve worked hard to get to where you are, rockstar image and all, only to realise that any apparent progress was for nothing, as someone just landed on you and sent you right back to the start again.
4. Thinking of You
Kesha sounds like Katy Perry on the chorus of this one, autotune really is a bizarre thing. I suppose you wouldn’t get the likeable Katy saying some of the crude things Kesha says in this one and that is what sets apart popstars these days. If Kesha manages to release 20 singles from this album, like KP did, I’ll eat all hats within a five-mile radius. It’s basically a you-spurned-me-cad-look-at-me-now song. She classily ends it with a reference to the size of the gentleman in question’s man handle. Always the classy lady, our Kesha.
Most Kesha lyric: ‘Found out you’re full of it, I’m over it, suck my d***’
Board game scale: Kerplunk. You wouldn’t play this with anyone you actually like. It’s not worth the time invested setting it up, which, in the case of the song, is pressing play.
5. Crazy Kids
References to being who you are and that won’t change? Check. References to dancing and partying? Check. References to drinking? Cognac. Brand names mentioned? Gucci. Thinly-veiled sexual metaphor? Chasing my kitty cat, check. Oh god. It’s a Will.I.Am co-write. Probably the worst, most diluted party song so far. It’s also got a bloody awful whistling part, which I could certainly have done better.
Most Kesha lyric: The whole blasted thing, ‘They chasin’ my kitty cat / they know my zodiac / I’m no virgin or no Virgo.’
Board game scale: Subutteo. WHO IS THIS FOR? Surely nobody can actually enjoy this? It’s just taking up space on the shelf. The people who like football play real football, the people who like board games don’t play sport based ones. WHO IS THIS FOR?
6. Wherever You Are
Again, a painful amount of autotune. Kesha is in her true love mode now, not dancing on bars but tangled up in the sheets of some bloke she met in an off licence. In a way it’s a pleasant break from the last five identical tracks, but the chorus is headache-inducing, she sounds like she’s singing into a fan, when it makes that weird robot noise. I assume others did that as a kid? In other news, Kesha rhymes ‘kiss’ with ‘electric’, showing her poetic skills, but it’s another one to be skipped. *Perfect advert targeting* – Spotify just played an advert for tequila, they’re slightly off, as this was another whiskey song, but that’s fairly well targeted. No army recruitment adverts here.
Most Kesha lyric: ‘Red Red Red Wine, Whiskey on your tongue, tangled up in your sheets.’
Board game scale: Crocodile Dentist. You’ll come out of this experience with your head tucked between your knees, rocking yourself gently. Far more stress than it is worth.
7. Dirty Love
It’s the Iggy Pop song, this is made clear by the intro of IT’S IGGY POP!!!! Almost a pat on the back, a bloody-hell-how-did-I-pull-this-off? It’s actually not that horrendous, given the Smart Price ingredients chucked in here. Obviously Kesha doesn’t want Iggy’s dirty love, or does she? He is so shrivelled now, he needs some good hydration and he won’t get that with Kesha around. On the vocals front, Kesha is more shouty and spitty than talky, so we finally hear the edgy side that NME has been telling you that the whole album would have. The lyrics are pretty funny, don’t expect to shed a tear or anything, but Iggy sums up the sound of the whole album: “Cockroaches doing it in garbage cans”.
Most Kesha lyric: ‘Champagne tastes like piss to me!’ is a good one.
Board game scale: Hungry Hungry Hippos. It’s short, it’s sweet, everybody is just mashing everything as hard as they can and making a racket rather than using their brains. A lot of balls get gobbled along the way.
It’s a stripped back one! There’s even a piano in it! Kesha is singing about how things were easier, “Life was so simple then / living life like our last weekend’. How long ago was ‘back then’? Track 7? I’m not sure if this works very well after seven or so tracks of lolpop, shots and shagging. It’s nice to have a break of pace but when a ballad is completely insincere, you can’t help wondering if there’s any point in it. She sings ‘We didn’t even think that time would ever come to an end’. That’s simply untrue, she was planning to die young earlier. I can’t cope much longer.
Most Kesha lyric: ‘Now I wanna do a drive-by but I can’t find the road’. So. Deep.
Board game scale: Guess Who. Where has Kesha gone?! Who is this person that has lost their way and doesn’t mention a single drink? Does she have glasses? Does she have short hair?
9. Only Wanna Dance With You
This track features The Strokes, which is pretty clear, if anything, they sound distinctive. It’s nice to have some guitars on it and I can’t help thinking if Kesha would sound better in a rock band. She’s better at shouting than singing. Casablancas provides some backing vocals and they sound pretty good, he could’ve done us a favour and sung the whole thing though. It’s awfully repetitive and you can’t help thinking that when she sings ‘dance’ she actually means something far more carnal.
Most Kesha lyric: ‘Drinking wine on the cement outside 7-11, I fell in love by accident’
Board game scale: Mousetrap. You hear The Strokes are involved in a Kesha song and you wonder how that came about. Surely a lot of effort went into setting that up. Souls were sold, divers jumped into bathtubs. When it finally comes to the big reveal, any anticipation and excitement that was left to build up is soon enough obliterated when the mechanism fails or you realise you’ve lost the marble. Or all of them.
I saw before I started that this song had a Nik Kershaw writing credit and I thought that was an odd inclusion, but after hearing the opening line, I am almost certain that it one of those moments where a popstar unveils a new song where one part sounds too much like another song, so they chuck a writing credit at the original artist to avoid any lawsuits. See: Life Got Cold by Girls Aloud/Noel Gallagher. The middle 8 sounds like Daft Punk too, put I don’t see any credits for them. When NME sells you an album saying that Kesha is a rockstar, you don’t buy it thinking that any track on it will sound like Cascada covering Nik Kershaw. Will probably be released as a single though. In case you wondered, the song is not about the supernatural, despite that ‘news’ story that Kesha made love to a ghost, the song is in fact just about simple fornication with another ruffian. That bedpost must have so many notches by now that it looks like it’s been whittled by a troupe of scouts.
Most Kesha lyric: ‘Come, take me in the night’. Any takers?
Board game scale: Cluedo. There’s been a murder here. Several murders, in fact, and Kesha is standing in the corner of the study, brandishing a candlestick, taking on anyone who fancies a go at her.
11. All That Matters (The Beautiful Life)
Kesha starts off reminding everyone IT’S KESHA, in case you had forgotten. There is absolutely nothing to see here, it’s mostly Kesha saying ‘All that matters is the beautiful life’, which happens thirty-six times. What does it even mean? I’ve lost all will to live at this point. For more on the Beautiful Life, see the far superior Ace of Base song, which has a fantastic video which in some versions has CGI bubbles and sometimes doesn’t, yet the band members react to the bubbles which are no longer there. It’s an interesting one.
Most Kesha lyric: ‘Put your mother*ckin’ phones up. Light ‘em up. Oh yeah’.
Board game scale: Monopoly. It just goes on and on forever. The eventual outcome was evident within the first minute, but you have to see it through until the end. It’s one repetitive cycle where nobody is the real winner and you’re lucky if you didn’t crack and flip the board across the room.
12. Love Into the Light
Ending on another slow one. Our friend Kesha, with whom we have shared a very trying forty minutes or so, starts to admit her flaws. Perhaps they were obvious to everyone but herself, but she’s becoming self-aware and maybe she’s starting to sober up after realising the importance of the beautiful life. “I know I’m not perfect, I know I’ve got issues”, she crows, “I know I’ve got a sore past and, yeah, some bad tattoos’. She’s at her most vulnerable. Strike her while she’s down! Kill the beast before she comes back for the bonus tracks. We can joke all we want but this is actually one of the better tracks. Lyrically it’s a bit too swear-filled to be truly beautiful but the middle 8 is very good in this one.
Most Kesha lyric: ‘I’m sorry but I am just not sorry, cause I swear and cause I drink’.
Board game scale: Scrabble. One for those of us who like a slower pace in life. We like to use our brains. It’s not all going out, necking cheap spirits and grinding on a stranger. Sometimes the most important thing is taking a step back, looking down at your rack and trying to get all your letters out in one go.
Warrior has a handful of bonus tracks that are available to listen to on Spotify, but I can’t bring myself to do that, feel free to have a listen if you think you’re capable though. Bear in mind, these tracks didn’t make the standard album tracklisting, so they will most likely not be much cop.
Overall, considering what I was expecting here, the album is a disappointment. I wasn’t expecting art, I wasn’t expecting to get the lyrics tattooed on my lower back, I was simply looking for some kind of progression. Having famous people want to work with you, or at least to have them willing to accept large sums of money to work with you, is a step in the right direction, but to then churn out the same old rubbish again is a waste of materials.
Considering the album starts out all DRINK DRINK DRINK, I AM WHO I AM, then she gets a bit angry, admitting she doesn’t even like champagne, then she eventually ends up a miserable wreck, it feels like Kesha is going through the five stages of grief in this album and finally heading towards acceptance. I can’t help but wonder what kind of grief she is going through. Perhaps the two-for-one jaegerbombs deal has ended? Perhaps she has too many STIs that the inside of her body looks like honeycomb? Perhaps she’s only just realised SwiftCover doesn’t cover entertainers, so that insurance Iggy made her take out was a waste of money?
Perhaps we’ll never know.
There is a game to be had here. Gather your friends round, stock up your drinks cabinet and put every Kesha track into a playlist and put it on shuffle. Every time she mentions a drink, take a shot of it. If you’ve got a strong liver and no plans for the next few days, it could be a fun but not recommended game. It is really quite surprising how often she name drops an alcoholic beverage in her song. It’ll be a party classic, if you can put up with the music. Never ending fun with a Kesha album, you don’t get that with Adele, do you? DO YOU?
Overall I would give the album a rating of Snakes and Ladders. Just when you think it’s going somewhere, you land on a bloody snake and go back to where you started. The ladders are there, you can see them, there is a visible way out of this hell, but no matter how many sixes you roll, Kesha always has you landing on the snake, sliding back to the days of Tik Tok, which was nearly three years ago now. I say, jump over those snakes, grab that ladder, Kesha. Climb up it and reach the end. Maybe start on a contingency plan. Learn a trade. You must be able to make some serious money as a female plumber. That wouldn’t be too bad, would it? You’d get a lot of free tea…