Pop phenom Ke$ha: 'I saw pretension everywhere and I wanted to fight against it'
Although we said that the 22-year-old pop trollop Ke$ha was a face to watch in 2010, even we at Pop & Hiss were a bit taken aback at how right we were. She currently has the top two slots on iTunes on lockdown, with her inescapable electro-sass singles "TiK ToK" and "Blah Blah Blah." For chart geeks, she also has the distinction of appearing on the two bestselling first-week singles in Billboard history, if you count her cameo on Flo Rida's "Right Round." Whether or not you agree with Ann Powers' take that she's the Mae West of this current pop moment, Ke$ha is the first breakout voice of 2010, and we felt we owed you a longer conversation with her. She spoke with us about condom cannons, her rag-picking skills and finally getting revenge against that chick who stole her car.
You made your album "Animal" while living in Echo Park, probably L.A.’s most knives-out neighborhood for music snobbery. Did you ever catch flak from the locals for making such unapologetic party pop?I think hipsters helped me do it. I saw pretension everywhere and wanted to fight against it. Certain songs on the album are serious, but people really need to take themselves less seriously in pop music. I come out on stage and do cartwheels in laser gloves with a cannon that shoots condoms and confetti.
So many musicians are afraid to laugh at themselves. Why is that?
That’s why my Twitter handle is "Keshasuxx,” if I say it first then you can’t say it about me later. People can hate me for any reason they want, but I’ve already beat them to the punch line.
I never had dreams of being gluttonous about money, that’s why I put the dollar sign in my name, as a joke. I don’t care that I didn’t make money off it.
Really? That was the bestselling first-week single of all time.
If I work hard enough, it’s all karma. It was an accident that I was even on it: We were both working with Dr. Luke, and he asked me to sing on it. It’s never been about money. I don’t even know how much money I have in my bank account now. I know it’s more than it was before that single, but I’m just excited to not be waiting tables anymore.
You mentioned you do have some ambitions toward more serious songwriting. What does a serious song from Ke$ha look like?
I wrote on every song on the record, and that’s something I’m really proud of. We had 200 songs that we narrowed down to 15. “Steven,” for instance, it’s about a guy I’d been stalking. He’s this pretentious hipster to the max, he was a total loser but I was obsessed with him. It’s a vulnerable song! It’s all about “why won’t you call me?”
Do you think there’s any kind of third-wave feminist undercurrent to the bawdy way you write?
I’m just speaking about men the way they’ve written about women for years. If you listen to LMFAO, all their songs are about how women are pieces of meat. I find that kind of stuff funny, so I want to do it back to them. It’s not meant to be taken seriously, I just wanted to give them a taste of their own medicine. There’s such a double standard for women.
Do you think that sensibility is something young women will respond to?
This record very accurately documents my last four years of being absolutely broke in L.A. It’s honest, it’s real and I hope people can appreciate it. There was a good pop song in everything I did back then, like the backstabbing girl who stole my car. But the last song, “Animal,” that’s my philosophy on life, and that might be more the direction I go in the future. It’s about remembering that we’re really all just animals, and I indulge that more often than most people. I never said I was going to be the best influence.
So what should they take away from you instead?
I’m making sure people know there’s no connection between money and happiness. I remember sitting in the Gold Room with two dollars in change wearing clothes I found in the garbage, but I was surrounded by people that love me. Those were my favorite moments from that time. To this day, if I see a pile of clothes on the side of the road, I’ll still pull over.
Ke$ha will sign copies of "Animal" from noon to 2 p.m. Saturday at the Hot Topic at Hollywood & Highland.
Photo courtesy RCA Music Group