Released November 2010 by RCA
With the frank, occasionally blatantly offensive, lyrics, liberal use of auto-tune and tacky electronic effects, and an image of drunk, attitude-driven, bored party girl, Ke$ha is inevitably a polarizing pop artist. However, on the eight new songs here that make up the EP Cannibal along with one remix there is a sort of brutal honesty to the words and unavoidable catchiness to the music. You may blush, laugh, and cringe, but this is the Ke$ha record that will garner grudging respect from a number of critics and fans.
Lyrics of Brutal Honesty
The #1 hit single "We R Who We R" is the obvious centerpiece of Cannibal. Ke$ha insists in the songs here, in a variety of ways, that she and her fans are themselves with no apologies, and she will be honest in telling their story and her story. On "Crazy Beautiful Life," she states, "I've been through my sketchy phases / Been broke, been a sh**ty waitress / But I'm not now, guess it worked out / Got here by running my mouth." On the song "Blow," Ke$ha lays out a thumbnail description of herself and her fans, "Dirt and glitter cover the floor / We're pretty and sick, we're young and we're bored."
Unappealing men of various stripes are a frequent target for scorn on Cannibal. In her approach to the male gender, Ke$ha is frank in a way that has been rarely heard in mainstream pop music. As she sings in "We R Who We R," she and her friends are, "hittin' on dudes...hard!" The song "Cannibal" takes the concept of the maneater to a new level. "Grow a Pear" may make more than a few men blush, but it also borders on the territory of a Saturday Night Live comedy routine when she sings, "But I just can't date a dude with a vag."
Autotune, Tacky Electronics, and a Catchy Form Of Music
As on her album Animal the songs here are full of auto-tune and tacky sounding tick tock dance beats. Dr. Luke is once again the primary producer here. However, Bangladesh pumps up the hard edge and club readiness of "Sleazy." There are places on Cannibal where Ke$ha's music actually borders on the beautiful. The title song may name drop Jeffrey Dahmer, but the sound of the shouting to the galleries chorus soars as gorgeous dance pop.
There are ballads here that prove Ke$ha is a talented singer when she chooses to go that direction. The emotional delivery of words about a young love gone bad on "The Harold Song" would make Avril Lavigne proud. "C U Next Tuesday" is a sweet sounding gentle electro-pop ballad that would have fit quite nicely with mid 80s new wave influenced pop.
Top Tracks On 'Cannibal'
- "We R Who We R"
- "Crazy Beautiful Life"
- "C U Next Tuesday"
Ke$ha Holds Her Ground And Establishes Her Own Space In Pop Music
Like it or not, Ke$ha seems unlikely to go away any time soon. Five top 10 solo hit singles this year so far have established her as a significant force in mainstream pop music. Cannibal is largely more of the same, but the irreverence of the words and catchy power of the music have been amped up a bit. If you are likely to dismiss Ke$ha outright, take the opportunity and listen again to a few of the songs here. She can sing when she wants to, and she has almost a punkish attitude to her words. All of that adds up to more than a whiff of authenticity and a unique voice that is beginning to sound refreshing.