Review Summary: Ke$ha sobers up, and loses whatever originality she had in the process.
Let it be said, here and now: The Ke$ha we once knew is gone. The singer with the horrible autotune, terrible lyrics, and penchant for alcohol, who for those very reasons could have been construed as endearing, has been consumed by some unknown force, leaving a lifeless, manufactured replica behind. In a world full of white-bread pop with a singular focus on love and crushes in the lyrics, Ke$ha used to be able to balance out the factory-made sound of the radio with her flippant drunkenness and flirtatiousness. Katy Perry wouldn’t be caught dead with a bottle of Jack Daniels, Taylor Swift would never refer to her crotch (much less call it her “junk”), Selena Gomez wouldn’t describe a strip club down to the glitter on the floor. Make of it what you will - I hesitate to call it “refreshing” - but at least it was something different. And, given the state of pop radio around the time of Animal
, someone like Ke$ha was welcomed: her drunkenness and horniness were unique.
, Ke$ha is a shadow of her former self. She only seems inebriated on the first half of the album, and unsurprisingly that half is far better than the rest of the album. However, the passion for hard liquor that felt so genuine on her previous offerings seems almost feigned here. It’s as though she’s suddenly become a high schooler talking about how smashed she was last night, while in reality she only had a shot or two before passing out. Because, when you come right down to it, on the first half of the album it feels like there’s an imposter posing as Ke$ha, an imposter who can not and never will “do Ke$ha” right. For example, the lyrics are atrocious as always. But, when in the past those terrible lyrics set her apart in an almost positive light, now those lyrics are no different than any standard scene “crunk” band talking about the club as if they’ve never been there in their life. To quote from “Crazy Kids:” “I'm fresher than that Gucci, them boys they want my coochie / I say nope, I'm no hoochie / Your home girl hatin' I say "who she"" / Ke$ha don't give two f*cks / I came to start the ruckus / And ya wanna party with us / Cause we crazy mothaf*ckas.” As expected, these lyrics are awful, but the main problem is they’re no longer awful in that almost-endearing Ke$ha way. Here, they sound like they were written by someone like brokeNCYDE. The actual backup music is also wildly inconsistent on the first half of the album. Though “Die Young” is in fact one of the catchiest songs on the album and one of the better pop songs on the radio today (although it does have its own problems, especially lyrically. Since when does Ke$ha “blush” at anything cock-related"), the rest of the first half doesn’t fare too well. “Thinking Of You” sounds no different than any standard-issue Katy Perry jam, and “Wherever You Are” shows off the worst sides of both pop house and bubblegum pop with its wobbly, stylistically off post-chorus section and a twinkly piano/synth chorus which clashes horribly with Ke$ha’s harsh voice. Her once-captivating inebriation and libido now feel manufactured simply for the purpose of selling more.
The second half of Warrior
sees Ke$ha abandon whatever feigned individuality she showed earlier in the album. She’s sobered up, and her newfound lucidity only serves to amplify the faceless pop songs she avoided up to this point. From the faux-anthemic choruses of “Love Into The Light,” to the piano-pop drivel of “Wonderland,” to the pop-prog-house “Supernatural” whose verses sound a little too similar to J-Lo’s “On The Floor” and whose choruses sound like the industry standard Zedd-esque tunes, nothing about the second half of the album is redeeming. Ke$ha simply isn’t herself here, and this hurts an already weak album even more. Any pop star probably could have been substituted for Ke$ha on this part of Warrior
and it’s doubtful anyone would notice - it’s just not what we’ve come to expect from her. But, really, that’s the story of the whole album: Ke$ha forgetting who she is and releasing an unoriginal pop album tainted by terrible lyrics and bad instrumentation. Even for Ke$ha, the expectations were higher than what the final product accomplished, and Warrior
fails in almost every way imaginable. The obnoxiously drunk and lustful yet charming Ke$ha is dead, unlikely to be resurrected again. Only a shadow of her former self remains, and the future of whatever’s left seems dim.