I got into writing because I was a DJ. People would drop off their demos and I had quite a collection after sometime. When I hit a certain point, I paid a visit to a local magazine and asked if they wanted them for reviews and they said, “Sure, write some.” So there you have it—I started my writing career as a music critic. First, I focused on rock and then pop artists and their labels would contact me and after that, I eventually broadened my scope. I also, eventually, had to stop because I grew to hate the current state of music and could no longer listen to it without bias. I got sick of the formula; my ears had fatigue and it all sounded the same after awhile. It’s the reason I still can’t listen to the radio, but I do still DJ from time to time, so that helps me to know what’s current (even if I hate it).
Honestly speaking, though, nothing puts me a bad mood quicker than today’s pop music. Not all of it, just most. Case and point, Kesha. (I will not use a dollar sign in someone’s name; I refuse.) Kesha is a 25-year-old white, girl “rapper”. Her first hit single “Tik-Tok” sold more copies than any of the Beatles singles, and that’s sickening. A few years ago, a picture of her surfaced, she was topless and covered in some dude’s juices. Classy, classy lady. Her songs have lyrics like:
“Wake up in the morning feeling like P Diddy / Grab my glasses, I’m out the door, I’m gonna hit this city / Before I leave, brush my teeth with a bottle of Jack / ‘Cause when I leave for the night, I ain’t coming back”
She says this all in a somewhat baby/kittenish slurred voice, and I swear to Buddah it makes me want to jump off a building. It’s almost as bad as Katy Perry’s ‘Firework’:
“Do you ever feel like a plastic bag?”
What? No, I never feel like a plastic bag … no one ever feels like a plastic bag. What the hell does that even mean? Get a better metaphor. But back to Kesha and how her voice and horrible rapping make me want to jump from a very high place—this “nails-on-a-chalkboard-vocal is laid over some techno bumping, I-don’t-even-know-what-kind-of-instrument-they’re-using-to manipulate” and then auto-tuned. It’s a recipe for shitty music, but it goes to number one every time. Her latest “hit” is called ‘Die Young’ and naturally I hate it.
I was browsing the Internet recently and came across an article titled, “Ke$ha Made A Beautiful Acoustic Version Of “Die Young” I clicked on it and said quite loudly, “Yeah f-cking right.” I hit play and holy mother of God. The voice that started to sing was not Kesha. No way that is Kesha. That is good. That is interesting, that is complex. That is not Kesha … that is not … holy shit that is Kesha. I sat listening to this song that I hated and started to really like it. It suddenly took on a different genre. It was bluesy, it was sort of sad, and honestly, her voice was f-cking lovely.
Underneath the acoustic version of ‘Die Young’ was her cover of one of my favorite Bob Dylan songs, “Don’t Think Twice It’s Alright” but it should be called, ‘Don’t Think Twice About Singing This Song Unless You Are Bob Dylan’. I hit play, it’s just her voice. It’s broken, it’s bluesy, it sounds like she’s been crying for a week straight. By the second verse my eyes were welled up with tears and my heart hurt for this girl who was leaving a guy that clearly didn’t see her. But this is f-cking Kesha! How am I being moved by Kesha?! I’ll tell you how—it’s because Kesha actually does have talent. But real talent is not marketable in today’s generation. Kesha as a bluesy, complex, voice has no place on the billboard charts. Kesha as an annoying, drunk, reckless, trash-bag does.
The Kesha I heard in her acoustic versions is a girl I want to hug. And I don’t even like to be touched. But that’s the voice belonging to a girl that I would care for, I would look after; share a bottle of wine with. The Kesha I hear on the radio is a girl I am convinced I will get chlamydia from. I don’t want her coughing near me let alone to hug me.
Talent doesn’t matter anymore. Marketablilty matters. Lindsay Lohan as Elizabeth Taylor was the worst casting decision in the world but it got Lifetime talked about on every social media platform for months. Kesha as a singer isn’t controversial, but Kesha as a rapper is.
Today is not built on talent or trying hard or ability—it’s based on how can you shock and disgust the world. How can you make the disappointed, depressed, angry people sitting at home feel better about themselves. You make “sketti” with noodles and ketchup and feed that to your kid? Excellent. You get a TLC show and 5,000 dollars an episode. This is a generation of ‘shock and awe’ in the worst possible way.