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Ke$ha mixes '70s vibes with typical sound on 'Warrior'

RCA

By Gregory Hicks, Daily Arts Writer
Published December 4, 2012

With her recent No. 1 hit, “Die Young,” Ke$ha’s new record Warrior will likely fly off shelves — especially given the eternity fans have waited since her debut studio album, 2010’s Animal.

Though Warrior dives into a new style for the queen of all things trashy, Dr. Luke and Ke$ha are still connected at the hip. Given the sensations that Luke has generated for Ke$ha as her executive producer, it was wise not to mess with success.

The record’s first track, “Warrior,” catapults headfirst into everything expected — overproduced chorus vocals, acoustic white-trash rap verses and biting kick drum. No complaints there. It’s the atmosphere of this track that strays from expectation, however. “Warrior” carries a serious tone, “fighting ‘til the end” because there’s “something that’s inside of us, it’s how we’ve always been.” It seems similar to how someone might “fight ‘til (they) see the sunlight,” but the melody of the song feels distant from the carefree rebellion of “Tik Tok.”

“Warrior” might leave its listeners more afraid of Ke$ha than in love with her, but once they queue up “C’mon” and “start sipping on a warm Budweiser,” the fans will resume their infatuation with her grungy, untroubled style. Don’t overlook the clever play on words, either. Ke$ha isn’t a thief who “steals some bubblegum from the corner Maximart,” so much as she’s poking fun at her famous songwriter, Max Martin.

Don’t expect anything heartfelt from the sentimental sounding track “Thinking of You.” The emotion in the melody is audible, but the lyrics intentionally generate a few laughs. Admit it: If you could be Ke$ha for a day, you would flaunt to that ex-boyfriend of yours that your “song’s on the radio” and he has to “see (your) face everywhere (he) goes.” And, of course, there’s nothing quite like a “suck my dick” line coming from a female pop star. If, for some reason, a fan wanted a softer side of Ke$ha, they’d best do their soul searching in “Wherever You Are” and “Wonderland.”

Luckily for Ke$ha, her screwy rap-tune music and bellicose nature are enough to lure a crowd beyond 13-year-old girls. That said, a reasonable chunk of her fan base will enjoy the ’70s-style rock portion of the album. Iggy Pop lends Ke$ha a helping hand in the search for her inner punk rock on the track “Dirty Love,” while Patrick Carney steers her in a blues rock direction for “Wonderland.” A round of applause is in order for avoiding basic collaborations with Nicki Minaj and Pitbull.

Of these classic-style tracks, the most likely to strike a chord with a modern crowd is “Only Wanna Dance With You.” A catchy beat that doesn’t sound completely synthetic? Apparently, such a thing isn’t extinct.

Dr. Luke must’ve been ecstatic when he heard that, for the first time, Ke$ha wanted guitar on a record. There’s nothing like being SNL’s lead guitarist for seven years, only to have one of your biggest stars refuse your instrument of choice. Fear not, though. Warrior still brings out the Animal in Ke$ha, even if she feels more like Iggy Pop and less like P. Diddy.