Sunday, October 17, 2010

First Listen: Ke$ha "We R Who We R"

First of all, it's totally great that in this time of crisis in the minority world, from Arizona's bafflingly unconstitutional call for eviction of the brown-skinned to the recent spate of bullying-induced suicides among gay teens to M. Night Shyamalan's Asian denial, that at least our major pop stars are hopping on the "Underdog Power" wagon (the female ones, that is). Perhaps it's just another standard of a post-Gaga pop music scene, or maybe it's in some way a genuine, and timely, call to arms that coincides with release dates for some of the biggest ladies of pop music working right now. Or could it be yet another result of a worrisome narrowing of influence among a shrinking group of producers and songwriters who seem to keep getting away with more recycling than Greenpeace headquarters?

That this year's breakout pop star's upcoming EP and accompanying lead single feature major influence and executive production credits of the infamous Dr. Luke unfortunately does little to disprove that last theory, but that doesn't necessarily mean all is yet lost. After all, the star in question is that controversial genius in disguise who goes by the stylized moniker Ke$ha, and she's not exactly in poor company either (Pink's single "Raise Your Glass," the most notable recent entry into the "freaks unite" canon, is a remarkably inspired collaboration between the great pop artist and the even greater pop producer Max Martin, of whom Dr. Luke is a protege).

Since Cannibal is but a Fame Monster style add-on to the upcoming re-release of Ke$ha's surprise smash debut album Animal, it makes sense that (as with Gaga and Fame Monster) the singer's meticulously scripted plot-line - you know, the trashy girl who parties a lot, uses whiskey as oral hygiene tool and doesn't wash her hair - isn't exactly going to be tossed out the window just yet. But, at least on lead single "We R Who We R," neither is it dominant, or even particularly evident at all (although final judgment shall be reserved for the music video), and that suits Ke$ha just fine. She's not working with filet mignon material with the musically and lyrically facile Dr. Luke-produced track, which is likely destined to be the most forgettable of her five singles thus far, although like any Dr. Luke production the mediocrity is impeccably done, and I've learned from experience that the producer has created as many slow-burning hits as he has instant and unforgettable smashes, so I may well end up eating my words down the line.

If anything, "We R Who We R" should serve as a nice placeholder on the Billboard Hot 100 while we impatiently wait to hear what glorious head-exploding madness the Nashville-raised pop ingenue makes with hardcore hip-hop producer Bangladesh in their reported collaboration(s?) on Cannibal. And, anyway, it's a nice track to play behind those "It Gets Better" videos, and goodness knows that's a far more important issue than RCA's last wringing of dollar signs from its surprise breakout star before she takes over her career and unleashes her genius on the world in a manner not seen since a certain Swedish teenage tool of Max Martin who went on to become Robyn, the killingest pop star on the planet.

Far-fetched? The Ke$ha Project is here to find out.

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