The last time we heard from Ke$ha, she was brushing her teeth with a bottle of whiskey and swearing up a storm on "Animal," an album that painted her as the crass, trash-talking foil of her pop star peers. Ke$ha's musical hodgepodge — equal parts dance-pop, electronica, hip-hop and whatever passes for glam nowadays — was purposely dirty, filled with more potty humor and lusty boasts than a rap album. In a world filled with young, pretty singers, this one definitely stood out.
Striking while the iron's still hot, Ke$ha keeps things filthy on "Warrior," her second album. She trades one-liners with Iggy Pop on the crass, R-rated "Dirty Love" and sings about making out with a ghost in "Supernatural," a song that's closely related to Katy Perry's "E.T." The whole album is meant to shock the listener, but it's cheeky, too, performed with a campy grin as well as a sneer. You can tell that Ke$ha doesn't take herself too seriously, which makes her songs go down easier.
With producer Dr. Luke on board, "Warrior" sounds mighty and modern, filled with the pulsing dance beats and buzzing synths that dominate most contemporary pop music. The obvious singles — "Die Young," "C'Mon," "Crazy Kids" — are fine, but Ke$ha saves her best moves for the odder tunes, which turn their backs on Top 40 music and explore more adventurous territory. "Only Wanna Dance With You" mixes some Strokes-influenced guitar rock with a dose of bubblegum pop, and "Love Into the Light" closes the end on a spacey, gorgeous note, adding heartfelt emotion to a tracklist that tends to gloss over the mushy stuff.
Beneath the layer of grime is a softer side, too. Like Rihanna, Ke$ha relies heavily on Auto-Tune, which keeps her voice in tune but also de-individualizes her singing style. She ditches it during songs such as "Wonderland," a country-accented power ballad that places her vocal chops front and center, without any electronic assistance. As it turns out, Ke$ha is actually a fairly solid singer, capable of delivering her "serious" songs with a voice that sounds appropriately world-weary, tuneful and even a bit jazzy.
In the end, "Warrior" is still an immature album, one whose finest lyric is a clever pairing of "saber-toothed tiger" and "warm Budweiser." Ke$ha spends most of her time chasing after the boys she likes and dismissing the ones she doesn't, and she raps most of her verses in an exaggerated Valley Girl accent. Whenever she ditches the disguise and sings something heartfelt, though, she gives us a glimpse of the girl beneath the makeup, the girl known to her mother as Kesha Rose Sebert. That girl is just as interesting as Ke$ha, and it's the mix of the two personalities that makes "Warrior" so interesting.
Adele's "21" goes diamond
Adele's "21" has sold more than 10 million copies in the U.S. alone, becoming — coincidentally enough — the 21st album to receive "diamond" certification by the RIAA.
Linkin Park's "Hybrid Theory" and Usher's "Confessions" both received diamond status earlier this year, but those were older releases, with "Hybrid Theory" dating back to 2000 and "Confessions" hailing from 2004. "21" accomplished the feat in less than two years, making it the fastest-selling diamond album since 'N Sync's "No Strings Attached," a turn-of-the-century smash that sold 10 million copies in just 43 weeks.
Kenny Rogers lines up duets for new album
During the final evening of this year's Bonnaroo festival, Phish welcomed Kenny Rogers to the stage for an impromptu version of "The Gambler." It was an odd pairing — the country veteran and the jam band goofballs — but it was endearing, too, proof that a good song stretches across musical boundaries.
Mr. Rogers is hoping the same appeal will apply to his new album. Due out in 2013, the set will feature guest appearances by several stars, including Lionel Richie. Mr. Rogers has always expressed interest in singing another song with Dolly Parton, a timely move that would coincide with the 30th anniversary of the pair's chart-topping hit, "Islands in the Stream."