For the moment, I can tentatively—tentatively— forgive Ke$ha’s new single.
It’s called “Die Yong,” and it was just released today. If you haven’t heard it, it sounds like this…
And… um… it’s okay. It sounds exactly like a Ke$ha song (except for the opening few seconds, which sound exactly like the opening of “Good Feeling” by Flo Rida. Compare.)
And that’s fine. Ke$ha songs are good. They mix club beats and a shitty attitude with rap-singing and a whole mess of AutoTune. They’re a little rebellious, a little robotic, and catchy as hell.
I can’t be mad at “Die Young” for being all of those things.
But here’s the thing: For months and months, we’ve been promised that Ke$ha’s new album is going to sound different than her previous material. Apparently, people like Iggy Pop and Ben Folds are on it, which suggests a transition to straight-up rock music. That could be interesting, and more importantly, it could suggest that Ke$ha has a real artistic personality and isn’t just a slave to the sound that made her famous.
She needs to break away from that sound pretty quickly, since it’s already getting stale. When One Direction’s new song—the similarly titled “Live While We’re Young“—sounds like a Ke$ha track, with its thumping party chorus and snotty posturing, and when Jessie J and Cher Lloyd are both making careers as Ke$ha 2, then it’s time to change or become irrelevant. If Ke$ha stays in her current lane, she’ll get trapped in her moment, and when pop music inevitably takes a new path, she’ll get left behind. Everyone will just associate her with 2011 and assume she has no future. (Celine Dion and Boyz II Men couldn’t stop making power ballads, and look what happened to them when the 90s went away.)
That’s why it’s a bummer that “Die Young” sounds like a typical Ke$ha song. Why does anyone need to listen to it, if they’ve already got “Tik Tok” or “We R Who We R” on their iPods? Why buy the third version of a song you’ve already bought twice?
However, maybe Ke$ha’s label thinks her fans want a gentle intro to the new sound. Maybe “Die Young” is just the comforting appetizer before the surprising main course. If it is, then I can forgive it. But if it’s just the first wave in an ocean of “same old Ke$ha,” then I’ll know it was the song that started the end of her career.
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Mark Blankenship didn’t realize how much he was looking forward to this song until he was disappointed by it. He tweets as @IAmBlankenship