Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Ke$ha Project - ‘Mr. Watson’

Whenever I find myself unmoved by the new music on tap or otherwise lacking motivation to write about the offerings of the moment, I always turn to one tried and true coping mechanism that inevitably carries me through the rut. The odd thing is, I’ve been doing so for well over a year without realizing the pattern until now, which is either cosmically inspiring or evidence of the deterioration of my faculties such ruts tend to inspire. Either way, I expect to save a great deal of time in the future now that I know that the guaranteed cure for musical mélange is sleep, exercise, and a healthy dose of Ke$ha.

I feel genuine guilt whenever I look back at pieces I spend time writing but don’t publish for whatever reason (this is 100% true) and consider that I could have used the time spent on those doomed ideas instead in the continuing development and proliferation of The Ke$ha Project. Said guilt is likely aggravated by the still shallow amount of critical and academic discussion I have published on the matter to date, so to combat that, and to latch onto a topical tie-in with the start of a new school year, The Ke$ha Project hereby continues with the very bad but very funny influence of “Mr. Watson.”

Did you (or do you now) ever have a teacher that took the whole tradition of dumpy couture, oversized glasses, misapplied lipstick and humorless disciplinarianism, crumpled it into a ball, took off his clothes and drooooooool…..sorry, what? Wow, really? That’s so awesome for you, I did not. Fortunately this was hardly the only adolescent fantasy-inducing scenario normal children of the 90s were supposed to have access to that my teenage years pointedly lacked, which is only fortunate in that my imagination eventually learned to cope on overdrive and the hot teacher was covered on the insurance plan.

As with any sex-related fantasy, some of us inevitably take things further in the safety of our minds than others, and Ke$ha isn’t exactly one to hold back (or she realizes that holding back makes for much duller storytelling). I will sheepishly admit that on first listen even I found myself taken aback by the blunt honestly of this musical fantasy (or journal entry, one never knows), but only for a moment; for those who do not know me I should note that when something shocks me even somewhat it’s a pretty impressive feat. Never to worry, though: this is Ke$ha, after all, who tends to get away with more edginess than others because she emanates a trustworthy vibe of ultimate safety.

Thus I was able to enjoy the farcical humor in Ke$ha’s intentionally blatant lyrics, some delightful close harmony backup vocals which are like catnip to me. The song works thanks to expert craftsmanship, especially in the efficient melodic writing that carries the initially hectic verse smoothly into a mainstream-friendly chorus, only to toss in that very last dissonant chord on the final beat, which rustles the listener from the effortlessness of the melody just enough, the first time, to alert him in time to appreciate the amorous co-ed’s psychoanalytical theorizing (in implicit self-defense) in the verse; and the second time, at the very end, to leave things just slightly off balance and on the mischievous note of the song’s lyrical premise.

(I also appreciate that the tutorial hunk of Ke$ha’s naughty desires is, like I, a historian, a detail for which if factual I praise Ke$ha’s taste in professorial pieces of ass, and if invented I appreciate the nod of approval on behalf of sexy social scientists everywhere.)

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