Review Summary: This is not a fun CD.
I recall watching television one night and stumbling upon that ever so popular show, American Idol. Yes, it’s a guilty pleasure, I’ll admit it, and this particular night they had a special guest star, pop sensation Kesha (or Ke$ha). After the usual introduction, the scene cuts to the stage that’s been dressed up with glitter, old school TV sets, robotic astronauts, and Kesha herself center stage. The song, ‘Blah Blah Blah’, sounded horrible, like an 8-bit Nintendo song written by a monkey playing with a keyboard, and the vocals were barely discernable and I’d be hard pressed to qualify them as even human.
But the thing that gets me was Kesha’s actual performance. A lot of pop starlets these days make up their lack of vocal talent with some sort of performance talent like dancing, or even stage presence and charisma… but that was nowhere to be found. To say Kesha was just standing around on stage like a ditzy blond sedated with horse tranquilizers would be a massive understatement. It was quite painful to watch. This leads me to her debut album, ‘Animal’, which under circumstances I won’t explain here, I had the unfortunate opportunity to listen to in its entirety. This album was meant to start a party, be the soundtrack to young boys and drunken girls on the dance floor everywhere; instead, it’ll have the opposite effect and leave you standing motionless, shocked at its banality, just like Kesha performing her own music live.
If you’ve heard ‘Tik Tok’, and I’m willing to bet you have, then you’ll know exactly what to expect from Kesha’s debut. Plenty of dance beats, lots and lots of synths and samples (recorded instruments are nowhere to be found here), autotuned vocals, and plenty of obnoxious and crass lyrics, mostly about partying and puking in people’s closets (lovely).
I’ll start with the positive first. I’ll give Kesha this- she does have attitude to spare. Despite the crappy lyrics, she knows she’s a slutty brat, and proudly struts her stuff on the album. The album is successful in capturing her personality, and that does count for something. A lot of pop starlets these days are without an identity. When you pop in ‘Animal’, you know exactly what Kesha’s all about. So I’ll give her that.
There are some noteworthy songs here too, so it’s not a complete failure. ‘Blind’ is one of the ballads, and the lyrics and vocal performance from Kesha sound genuine and heartfelt; it doesn’t sound out of place on the album at all. ‘Take It Off’, despite insanely altered vocals, has a very catchy vocal hook that’s front and center coupled with a pulsating beat that thumps quietly in the background, building up to a blast of synths and beats at the end. Definitely one of the strongest and most memorable songs here. And if you’re willing to look past the terrible lyrics, there’s no denying ‘Tik Tok’ is a catchy-as-hell tune.
But really, the album itself is very disposable and is almost equivalent to listening to TV static with a bratty girl rapping in the background. You know how many people dismiss metal music as just “noise”? That label applies directly to this album. The aforementioned “Blah Blah Blah” is one of the worst offenders here- it’s just beeps, bleeps, and noise coupled with Kesha’s unlikable personality, asking a guy to “Quit being a b!tch/Show me your d!ck”. “Your Love Is My Drug”, the opener, is supposed to be a fun and anthemic track to start the album off, but again, it sounds way too robotic, and the lyrics that Kesha (or is it an Apple computer?) spit out sound awful.
I could forgive the nature of this album- the crass lyrics, the unlikable persona, and the production consisting of nothing but sound effects and synth noises, and the fact that Kesha has no vocal talent to speak of- if the songs had any kind of structure and we’re actually catchy and fun to listen to, because that’s the whole point of an album like Animal. And despite those exceptions I previously mentioned, the answer is simply hell no. There’s nothing to the music, it’s just there, it's simplistic and sounds like it was composed on GarageBand, only with more cheap samples- it’s extremely grating.
It’s albums like Animal that make me question the nature of today’s music industry. I know everyone complains about mainstream pop; that’s been the case for awhile now, but this album reinforces this sad reality that you need no talent to speak of to make it. Kesha obviously wants her crowd to unleash their inner ‘animal’ while blasting this album in the car or at the club. To put it bluntly, she failed.