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Saturday, January 19, 2013

GEP's Initial Listen Report Card: Warrior

As 2012 came to a close, I admitted something very personal to the readers of the Giant Electric Penguin blog: that I enjoy the musical stylings of Ke$ha.  I struggled with the decision to reveal my darkest secret to the internet-at-large, but after long conversations with my wife, our pastor and several ancient Mayan deities I had started making blood sacrifices to in case the old Mayan-calendar-end-o-the-world-dealie was real, I decided it was time to stop keeping my enjoyment of Ke$ha to myself and live my truth.  After all, if Lance Armstrong could kinda sorta not exactly admit he'd taken performance-enhancing drugs over the course of his career, I could tell a handful of people who've stumbled across my blog accidentally that I like Ke$ha.

But how can one claim fandom and not own any of said artist's albums?  One cannot, so, one purchased the latest Ke$ha release, Warrior, with the iTunes giftcard one's parents got one for Christmas.  I had it on good authority (The A.V. Club) that Warrior wasn't too bad, so I felt good about my purchase.  But I am no sheep.  Hell no!  I don't just like stuff because The A.V. Club says it's OK to like stuff.  I mean, not all the time.  Most of the time, but that's not the point.  I'm my own man, dammit!  Right, A.V. Club?  I'm my own man, right?

In the spirit of honesty, which is the theme for GEP this 2013, I should admit that I calculated these arbitrary letter grades following 5 or 6 listens to Warrior, so the "initial listen" label is kind of (see also: totally) a lie.  That being said, let's find out if I enjoyed Warrior as much as my overlords at The A.V. Club say I should, if that's OK with them, of course.

Oh, one more thing.  Here's a special notice for "haters:"  If you don't like Ke$ha or Top 40 radio or pop music in general, I do not, for lack of a better phrase, give a flaming shit, so leave your pretentious, hackneyed comments at the proverbial door.  Or a real door.  Preferably a plane door.  And then fall out of that plane.  But also, if you don't like this sort of thing, still read on because you know I'm gonna bring the funny, ya'll!  HOLLA! AMIRITE!  OMG!!!

1. "Warrior" -- A-
Nice introduction to an album drenched in youthful debauchery.  Ke$ha makes her intentions to stand up for the nation's weirdos quite explicit in this title track.  Oddly enough there are more references to implements of murder (knives, machine guns) in "Warrior" then in "Die Young," the song Ke$ha denounced after the Sandy Hook shootings.

2. "Die Young" -- A+
This was my favorite song of 2012.  It is also the best track on the album, so, you know, if you dislike every song you've ever heard by Ke$ha, but kind of dig this one a little, just listen for it on the radio or purchase it on iTunes or rent the Cassingle or something.  You can still rent Cassingles from the library, right?  I mean, what else are you gonna do at the library?

3. "C'mon" -- C+
The second single off of Warrior, "C'mon" strictly adheres to the "Ke$ha song" blueprint: snotty raps about her body parts, catchy pop hooks about teenage jerkassery, sex talk.  Ke$ha's descriptions of drinking warm alcoholic beverages  and staying up late remind me of my younger days, but not enough to make "C'mon" feel like anything more than a bland retread.

4. "Thinking of You" -- B+
The most misogynistic Blink-182 song ever.  Snotty, hateful and taunting like any good Ke$ha song should be, made even better by the weird, Clockwork Orangey bridge thing in the middle.

5. "Crazy Kids" -- C
Why did every song last year have somebody whistling in it?  I wonder if it was the same guy on every song, like, T-Pain is the auto-tune guy or Lil Jon is the guy who yells "OK" on songs, maybe there's a whistling guy who artists are clamoring to work with.  Anyway, there's a whistle part on "Crazy Kids," but it's not annoying because the whistler just doesn't give a shit.  Other than that, "Crazy Kids" can be best describe as one part Imogen Heap to three parts Fergie, and I don't know about you, but that is way too much Fergie for me.

6. "Wherever You Are" -- A
Someone's been listening to Katy Perry.  In a gay dance club.  An enjoyable pop love song.

7. "Dirty Love" -- F
Pure garbage!  Ke$ha and Iggy Pop (?!?) duet on this tragic misstep, blatant cred-grab of a song.  When I was reading about this album on the internet, I discovered that Ke$ha has written, like, six or seven songs with Flaming Lips frontman, Wayne Coyne.  None of those songs appear on Warrior, but this hunk of shit does?  American Idol fans, be on the lookout for this year's contestant who sounds like Janis Joplin (because there is always at least one) to sing this one at some point.  Probably with Iggy Pop, who will do anything apparently.

8. "Wonderland" -- C+
Ke$ha gives Aimee Mann a try with mixed results.

9. "Only Wanna Dance With You" -- B
It's not perfect (dabbles in Pink territory in terms of subject matter, sound, and general irritating attitude), but I can see my daughter and I dancing to this one in the living room (Full disclosure: we've already danced to it in the kitchen.).  I don't like when the dude breaks in and starts crooning (Iggy Pop, is that you again?).  It reminds me of when that guy from the Sugarcubes would start interrupting Bjork halfway through a song.  I hated that!

10. "Supernatural" -- B-
Its trippy bridge and the various bleeps-n-bloops throughout give it a few extra points, but ultimately "Supernatural" is just OK.

11. "All That Matters (The Beautiful Life)" -- B
If you weren't clear by this point, Ke$ha don't give a fuck.

12. "Love Into the Light" -- C
My notes say, "Phil Collins on drums?"  That's all I wrote down.  

In summation, like Lady Gaga's The Fame, Warrior loads its front half with the best songs, leaving the back end unfocused and dull.  However, in the case of Warrior, it is very easy to assign blame for this unfortunate fact.  I'm looking at you, Mr. Pop.

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