For a few weeks now, I’ve been watching "TiK ToK" (and, yes, the K’s are capitalized), climb the charts. The artist? A tousle-haired blonde who goes by the hip-hop inspired stage name Ke$ha. (Her real name is Kesha Rose Sebert.)
The first single from this 22-year-old singer/songwriter’s upcoming debut, Animal, has already topped the charts in Australia, New Zealand and Canada. And now it's No. 1 in the U.S.
Popping over to Ke$ha’s MySpace page for a listen, I was greeted by a friendly invite to "GIMME UR EMAIL, B‑‑CH." I decided not to, opting instead to play the embedded "TiK ToK" video. This sounds familiar, I thought as I quickly jotted down several names: Miley Cyrus, Katy Perry, Avril Lavigne.
Turns out there’s a reason for those likenesses: Ke$ha’s nod to partying all night—more on that in a minute—was co-written by Lukasz "Dr. Luke" Gottwald, the pop mastermind behind hits from all three singers listed above, not to mention some from Kelly Clarkson, Britney Spears and P!nk. If there’s anyone in the music industry today who knows how to help feisty females claw their way to the charts’ upper echelons, it’s Dr. Luke.
His list of hit-making bullet points, which "TiK ToK," um, ticks off in order, is topped with generating a superficial, sugarcoated "message." Next, create an irrepressible toe-tapping, head-nodding, torso-turning beat. This is the kind of song that ricochets around your noggin at 11:17 at night when you’re trying to get to sleep and wish Ke$ha would just leave you alone already.
At 11:17 Ke$ha isn’t trying to sleep. Her idea of the "good life" is just getting started. "I’m gonna hit this city," she brags, "Before I leave, brush my teeth with a bottle of Jack/’Cause when I leave for the night, I ain’t coming back."
If there are any doubts at first about Ke$ha’s plans—drink, dance, scope out guys—they’re quickly dispelled: "Pulling up to the parties/Trying to get a little bit tipsy/ … The dudes are lining up ’cause they hear we got swagger/But we kick ’em to the curb unless they look like Mick Jagger/ … Ain’t got a care in the world, but got plenty of beer/ … Boys trying to touch my junk, junk/Gonna smack him if he gettin’ too drunk, drunk."
Supposedly Ke$ha’s never-ending bacchanalian soiree is inspired by real-life antics. She told Esquire, "I’ll usually go out, have one f‑‑‑ing insane night, come home half drunk, stumbling, and write down a few words. The next morning I’ll wake up and be like, Whoa, this story needs to be told. Like this single I have out right now, called ’TiK ToK.’"
Seriously? This is the kind of story that needs to be told? This is what passes for pop in 2009?
By the way, if you’re wondering what the song’s title means, well, that’s the sound the clock makes as Ke$ha parties on through the night—’til the "police shut us down, down."