Yesterday, vigilant Ke$ha-watcher Ben al-Fowlkes sent me links to two Ke$ha tweets. The first was mysteriously deleted, and the second apologized to anyone “effected by this tragedy,” saying that she understands “why my song is now inappropriate.” It was a puzzlement. I assumed “this tragedy” referred to the music industry that effected her rise to stardom, but it turns out I was thinking of “travesty” and she was thinking of “affected.” Ke$ha was actually apologizing to those affected by the Newtown shootings, which prompted several radio stations to stop playing her single “Die Young.”
First of all, Ke$ha should apologize to the owner of that barn, and then maybe start trying to make it up to the guy who made all those triangles. Second, her mysterious deleted tweet turns out to have been a disclaiming of responsibility for the words to the song:
I understand. I had my very own issue with ‘die young’ for this reason. I did NOT want to sing those lyrics and I was FORCED TO.
Forced to! One is reminded of the story of Scheherazade in the marketplace, where the more she sings the more goat kebabs they sell, or something to that effect. The important thing is A) Ke$ha did not want to sing the song that everyone immediately thought of when they heard what happened at Sandy Hook Elementary and B) she does not write her own music.
This changes everything. The most baffling aspect of Ke$ha—why she raps like a child forced to recite lines in a Christmas pageant—now makes perfect sense: she has been forced to recite lines by her mother. The captivity narrative explains more than her mewling rap-song, though. All the details sharpen when viewed through this lens. Consider her heretofore unnoticed Twitter handle: @keshasuxx.
Is it possible that even Ke$ha can only enjoy Ke$ha ironically? Are her coded messages (Ke$ha suxx, forced to sing) the equivalent of those notes you occasionally find in the pockets of Chinese-made suits that just say “mother sick?” Is it possible that Ke$ha, like Anakin Skywalker, does not want to see evil triumph any more than we do?
Let’s not think about the Chinese suit thing, ever. The question of whether Ke$ha is being Ke$ha ironically, on the other hand, has been a topic of conversation it the Comments section. It is virtually certain that some degree of irony informs the Ke$ha performance, because we are talking about pop music. The only person who approaches pop completely without irony is R. Kelly, and he makes the most ironic music out there. So yes, I think it is safe to assume that Ke$ha regards Ke$ha as kind of a goof.
It is also worth noting that she started doing it when she was seventeen. Producer Dr. Luke—not a real doctor— convinced her to drop out of high school to pursue a career in music, and she subsequently got her GED. That was eight long years ago. A young George W. Bush had just been elected to his second term. Crass materialism seemed like a deep vein of gold running just beneath the surface of America, and all a young lady had to do was bend over and grab it.
Think about what you considered cool when you were 17, particularly in the areas of music and self-expression. Now think about how you regarded those things at age 25. That’s not too old to enjoy something like Ke$ha as a guilty pleasure, but it is probably too old to actually believe in her. I think we can all relate to the experience of sort of singing along to “Blah Blah Blah” while hating its auteur. Imagine what’s it’s like to get that feeling while singing “Blah Blah Blah” in front of thousands of people and, you know, being her.
Better to deny it—to yourself, to Twitter, to the victims of the tragedy you witnessed through the bars of your own self-made prison. It’s bad enough to participate in the culture that made Ke$ha. We will all have to answer for “Tik Tok,” but at least we also collectively produced the moon landing and 45:33. Being Ke$ha is all Ke$sha does. The thing about irony is that you start doing it with reference to something else, some other person you really are, and after a while that referent goes away.