In Defense Of Ke$ha (Not That She Needs It)


Last night, Ke$ha appeared on Late Night With Conan O’Brien in a dress printed with images of Conan‘s face. She reminisced about the first time she put Conan’s beard in her mouth, discussed her fondness for chomping on beards in general (“I wouldn’t ‘let him’ [put it in my mouth], I would request it” she corrected Conan) and made a self-deprecating joke about how she can sometimes take things too far. She also talked about going to a beard contest (“it was like porn”) and discovering a guy with the best beard ever, one which was filled with tiny dinosaur figurines (Ke$ha loves dinosaurs). “Did you start dating this guy?” asked Conan. “No, but I did make out with him for two seconds.” “Did you get a dinosaur in your mouth?” “That’s like, my fantasy.”

After watching this clip, I wondered once again how anyone can hate this sparkly garbage lady, and began to write a nice post about her. Unlike many haters out there, I do not think Ke$hasuxx. (A refrain so common she made it her Twitter handle.) I think Ke$ha rulez! And even if you find her music annoying, which you might, so should you. Here are some reasons.

1. Ke$ha is a pop auteur.

So I realize authorship is a thorny question in popular music these days. Some people don’t think it matters whether pop stars write their own songs, as collaboration or straight up people-writing-songs-for-other-people is a tradition that goes back to Elvis. Others think it matters a great deal, and anyone who doesn’t write their own songs is “inauthentic.” (This argument is often flavored with misogyny.) I’d like to popularize a third opinion whereby we don’t shit on people for doing what Elvis did, but we can still respect the craftsmanship and badassery that goes into writing and performing your own songs. Ke$ha writes or co-writes most of her songs, and furthermore, she works on other people’s songs, too. She has written music for The Veronicas and Britney Spears!

It’s clear that Ke$ha (born Kesha Rose Sebert) cares about the authorship question too, as her breakout moment  (and she wanted very badly to be famous) could have come when she sang the hook on Flo Rida‘s 2009 hit “Right Round,” but she refused to take credit for the part or appear in the video, because she wanted to succeed on her own terms, and not as a sexy girl who sang a part in someone else’s song.

2. Ke$ha goes after the things that she wants.

One time, Ke$ha bribed Prince‘s gardener to let her into his house, just so she could give him her demo. If that’s not tenacity, I don’t know what is.

3. Ke$ha is fucking honest about the things she does.

I don’t know about you, but I kind of hate it when I hear someone singing about poppin’ bottles in the club or whatever, and then I find out that person is actually really boring and stays at home with their kids all the time. Meanwhile, I have reason to believe Ke$ha has done pretty much all the things she sings about doing, including brushing her teeth with a bottle of Jack. Case in point: her love of beards is not just a gimmick she came up with to seem quirky. She really loves to put those beards in her mouth. She says she has cute boys she hangs out with in every city, and that’s true, too. She has hooked up with at least three guys I know (two bearded). She could probably have fucked a lot of famous dudes by now (and if she had, I’m pretty sure we’d know about it), but she seems to prefer regular people. She seems like the kind of person who would come to a party in Brooklyn with me and my friends, buy us a bunch of beer, pay for all the drugs, and be nice to me not because she wanted to fuck my friends, but because she is nice. And then she would fuck my friends. Ke$ha is our most honest pop star.

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    • Samantha Escobar

      I fucking love Ke$ha. In all seriousness, I listen to at least one of her songs each commute. From what other people have told me, she’s really snazzy to work with, too, and that makes me instantaneously like her more — plenty of people seem nice in public, but are total assholes to the people they work with that are “below” them. She sounds rad.

    • Eileen

      I adore Ke$ha and have since I played “TikTok” nonstop to psych myself up for my 21st birthday. As she says, “Look, you can be intelligent and also like to be happy. You don’t have to be so pretentious that you can’t have a good time.” Which always meant a lot to me, because “smart people” can often be really stuffy and snobby about, say, the fact that you listen to Ke$ha. Sometimes they are assuaged when you mention that she did really well in school and allegedly had a tough time choosing between pursuing music and going to Barnard, but often not. I also love that you point out that she’s never had a DUI or anything like that (“Take it Off” even includes the disclaimer “I’m not the designated driver”). She seems like she likes to have a good time but not to be an idiot about it, which I appreciate, even if I could probably only handle a Ke$ha-style night, like, once a month.

      • GPC

        She said once that her mother told her it’s ok to drink but to never drink and drive and it’s ok to have sex but always use a condom. It’s ok to have fun but not harm yourself or others in the process.

    • LizAbear

      I am an unabashed Ke$ha fan. I dressed as her for Halloween a few years ago and it was awesome.

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    • Tusconian

      Ke$ha actually apparently does no drugs and is only a moderate drinker (again, apparently). Either way, I am a fan too. It’s “bad pop music” but um, Ke$ha knows that. She actually has quite a lot of knowledge about music and the industry, and knows exactly what she’s putting out there. None of her fans are saying she’s created a musical revolution, like fans of other artists of her caliber tend to. And who cares if her image is “fake.” Did anyone care when Madonna changed her image 500 times? Or Britney Spears pretended to be a Catholic school girl (or TaTu for that matter)? Does anyone care that Adele’s image seems to have been created by Mad Men’s costume department, or that despite having never gone to high school, Taylor Swift sings almost exclusively about being in high school? It’s how pop singers are, and it’s hardly a deception.

    • horusfitzfancy

      I really wish she would stop doing the whole “appropriating indigenous cultures” thing because I really like a lot of her stuff. C’mon Ke$ha! You’re better than that.

    • Cec1000

      I do love Ke$ha’s fun songs but I’m actually more drawn to her more thoughtful and meaningful stuff. I love Tik Tok, Dinosaur and Die Young but much prefer Wonderland, Animal, Past Lives, Dancing With Tears In My Eyes, This Love and Last Goodbye. That’s the thing I love about her though. She’s not all fun, party music like Pitbull and Flo Rida but she’s not all serious music either. She mixes it up by covering multiple genres and themes in her music. I love that the same album that gives you the silliness of Dirty Love and C’mon can give you thoughtfulness and meaning that’s in Love Into the Light and Wonderland.

      I also agree with the point that she’s never been in any kind of trouble. People call her a drunk, drug addict and slut but where’s the evidence that she’s any of those things? There’s actually nothing at all controversial about her. She’s one of the least troubled celebrities. She comes across to me as a nice girl who achieved her dreams. She’s not deserving of hatred in any way.

      I’m also glad the writer brought up Flo Rida’s Right Round. People say she only cares about money but she could have made a fortune on that song, yet she chose not to be credited for ethical reasons. She makes generic radio songs because she’s required to under the contract she signed with producer Dr. Luke when she was only 17. It’s clear she would rather do rock, country and folk music and work with the likes of The Flaming Lips than make commercial music. At least she got several of those types of songs on Warrior.

    • Jaclyn

      I have long said that she is smarter than she gets credit for being. I’d much rather have her image thrown about than the totally phony “good girl” Taylor Swift. She does own her sexuality and her own choices and, like it or not, she is neither a fool nor a victim. That’s not the worst image young girls could emulate.

    • Alex Hall

      I read this article a bit late but really glad I got around to reading it. Everything you mentioned is spot on and are also big reasons why I like Ke$ha. She’s straight up and unapologetic and I’d argue some of her deeper songs on Warrior go beyond just fun pop music.

    • jo$efina batista

      kesha is fucking awesome i give a fuck about the haters, im glad there are people like you in the world

    • PolyNation

      Just because she writes her own songs doesn’t make her a good artist. I mean, just about every song is about her going out to a party and getting wasted.