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Why You Should Love Ke$ha 

Wednesday, May 4 2011

Here's a picture of Ke$ha. We know what you're thinking. It's either "Oh dear God, no!" or "Damn! Girl needs a wash!" And both of these are valid responses. Ke$ha is one of the most polarizing artists in pop music for a bunch of reasons. Among them: She's heavily reliant on music's biggest enemy — Auto-Tune; she seems to write her lyrics with the aid of a rhyming dictionary; and she also appears to bathe regularly in a combination of cooking oil and glitter. Did we mention that her appearance on Saturday Night Live in April 2010 was (unintentionally) funnier than most of the sketches? There were dancing spacemen and a cape involved, in case you missed it. She even did the Robot with a straight face.

But let's take a step back from the tacky anthems, horrifying wardrobe, and white-girl rapping, and consider the good things about Ke$ha. Because, yes — if you can suppress your gut reactions, left coast snobbery, and gag reflex — there are some.

First, think of the thousands upon thousands of teenagers across this fine country of ours who need a soundtrack for weekend keg parties on the farm. At the very least, Ke$ha provides a valuable service for them. She lets them know, "Hey, you're not alone, crazy kids — it's okay to not be perfect." Because Ke$ha most certainly is not perfect. It would be an amusing understatement to say that she's not the best singer in the world. And she definitely isn't the best dancer in the world. Parts of her wobble — which, even though it's completely normal, we almost never get to see on our pop stars — and she is refreshingly unself-conscious about that.

Ke$ha lets the nation's teens know that they don't have to have model-shaped bodies to succeed, that they don't have to have expensive clothes to be popular, and that, goshdarnit, it's more important to let loose, party, and have a good time than to try to be something you're not. Just for good balance, she has a song called "Hungover" — to be clear about the repercussions of all that boozing she's constantly singing about. And where most pop ladies have lines of perfume, Ke$ha has a line of condoms (thanks, LifeStyles!), which — especially with the rampant overuse of abstinence-only sex education in American schools today — can do no harm whatsoever when it comes to the rate of teen pregnancies in this country.

When it comes to dudes, Britney has always been submissive, Christina has always had an air of desperation, Beyoncé has repeatedly sent the message that personal choice is reliant on cash, and Rihanna consistently offers TMI. But Ke$ha always sounds in control. Not only are there no prissy euphemisms here — she straight-up refers to her "junk" in "Tik Tok" — but she also, for the most part, makes it very clear that men are a happy side story in her life. Her world doesn't revolve around them, which, given the messages sent out to the nation's young women by most of the other pop ladies out there — Pink being the other most notable exception — is pretty damn valuable.

The closest Ke$ha gets to mushy love songs is "Your Love Is My Drug" (which features the line "I like your beard"), or "Stephen" (in which she opines, "What the hell? I can charm the pants off anyone else but you"). But when she says "Take It Off," she's in party mode. When she gets cheated on in "Kiss N Tell," she doesn't cry, she calls the dude a "slut" and throws down. And when creepy old guys hit on her and her friends, she calls them out in "Dinosaur."

Sure, Ke$ha may be pretty damn awful sometimes. But at least she's real. If there was a pop-keeping-it-real scale, at the top end you'd have Lady Gaga — amazing, but almost entirely impossible to relate to. In the middle, you'd have Taylor Swift — down to earth, but just too darn clean. And right there, rolling around at the bottom, clutching a bottle of booze, and puking in Paris Hilton's closet (no, really, that happened), would be Ke$ha. We can't help but love her for that. Not to mention that if ever there was let-loose-and-party music, it's made by Ke$ha. So yes, it's perfectly acceptable to keep her on hand as a guilty pleasure. Even if her live show is a trainwreck — which, actually, we doubt — it's pretty much guaranteed to be a highly entertaining one.

About The Author

Rae Alexandra

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