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LABEL: RCA RELEASE DATE: January 5, 2010 GENRE: Electropop
// review by Jeff

Meet the girl with the dollar sign in her name.

Look! Here cometh another rebel over the hill to bring our fine country together! ...No, it's not Paul Revere. It's Ke$ha. Yes, that's right, I put a dollar sign in that name, but only because she did. She popped onto the scene around 2007 when the aptly-named Flo Rida released the song, "Right Round", with Ke$ha as a featured singer. But I had no idea that we really needed another poppy princess to fill any mysterious void in our already oversaturated musical tapestry, but once that infectious "Tik Tok" hit the airwaves and treated the charts like a high-priced prostitute, it was obvious that there was indeed a place for Ke$ha. To be honest, she's just replacing Avril Lavigne as the resident bad punk girl on the charts. Yes, Avril is slowly coming back with a prime spot on the soundtrack to "Alice In Wonderland", but that song's terrible and hopefully it gets sat on by a Cheshire cat pretty damn soon. After the clamor that "Tik Tok" waved in the air, it was naturally time to whip out a full album. In January 2010, Ke$ha's debut, "Animal", was unleashed upon the public. The result is interesting to a degree.

Right from the get-go, with the sparkly glitters of the cover embossed into your eyes, you can tell you're in for something out of the ordinary and downright frolicsome. The album is quite electronic, but playfully mixed with sultry dance pop. Her vocals -- which don't stand out as being of pre-oversized-breasts-Mariah-Carey caliber -- are clearly a swift melding of flicking popular teenager speak down your throat with well-crafted pop hooks. But those looking for something particularly deep and thought-evoking will be quite disappointed. The basic message behind this album is hardly anything comparable to the great literature of our time; the only thesis here is that partying and drinking are the "in thing", and if you want to have a good time, you must combine those two. Of course, there's a bit of typical love thrown in for kicks, as demonstrated by the wickedly infectious intro track, Your Love Is My Drug. A pop album that fails to mention love is like a bowl of popcorn without popcorn in it. But it's a party album, plain and simple, and it doesn't often try to be anything but. Yet we also see a bit of shallowness in her character here, which is a tad unfortunate. The oft-played Tik Tok instantly portrays her as a hapless boozemonger whose only instincts involve determining where the great shindigs lie and where the hottest manservants are. Fun-loving characteristics are all well and good, but without at least a shred of depth and humanity, this will be a historic repetition of a Paris Hilton music album. And there was one. Do you remember it? That's what I thought. Don't do it, Ke$ha. Show some solid disposition!

Well, between bouts of dance pop, although there are certain points where she might shine with a bit more heartfelt vocal tenacity, such as the intro to Stephen, everything is pretty much intended to get boys and girls crowded onto a dancefloor beneath a cheap plastic disco ball. Guess you can't have it all. At least it's good-sounding trashy electro. They certainly didn't cut any corners with the effects. Vocal chopping, Auto-Tune, vocoding... and enough bass-filled synths and thumping beats to make any good club tremble just a little. And pretty much every song is catchy to an extent. I particularly enjoyed Kiss 'N Tell, even though its content isn't the most family friendly. If your chorus specifically discusses "acting like a slut" and giving the advice that keeping one's genitals in their pants, you know you have something dirty on your hands... so to speak. Other notables include Backstabber with its neat Latin sample at the beginning, Boots & Boys with its absolutely crispily dirty sound straight out of the mindset of a drunken house DJ from Germany, and Take It Off, but only because of the absolutely radical vocoded voice at the beginning. Interestingly enough, the second single from this, Blah Blah Blah, featuring the random appearance of the fellow electro-poppers in 3OH!3, is the one I actually don't care for much. If she wasn't really cute in the video, I'd not even think twice about that song. Okay, actually, the song is not beguiling enough to lure my attention anymore. I'll take Paris Hilton's "Nothing In This World" instead. Did I say that? Yes, I did.

Ke$ha's "Animal" uncaged is not a terrible album by any means. As a connoisseur of funky electronic music, this one is an example of how European music trends can wedge their way into American culture in a superb fashion. I think some good effort was put into this project. How could it not, considering that legendary pop producers such as Dr. Luke and Max Martin were directly involved? And for anybody keen on the Auto-Tune fad (which secretly include me to an extent), there's no shortage here. But parents and those with a high moral standing, beware! There's immoral witchcraft at play here, so be careful before you touch Ke$ha, or she'll bite you with somewhat raunchy lyrics... and she might even bite you for real if you get too close!


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