Hello, and welcome to Radio Rants. We’re having an old friend today.
I started Radio Rants as Ke$ha was on her way up in the world, and at the time, I don’t think I hated anyone as much as I hated her. Not only did Ke$ha typify everything bad about pop music, she reveled in typifying everything bad about pop music. The stupidity, the vapidity, and oh that AutoTune…it was just everything to make a music snob foam at the mouth. After reviewing her stuff on the site before, plus listening to it here and there for comparison’s sake, I have to say, she’s not as hate worthy as I thought. Even with the incessant catchiness aside, “Tik Tok” is almost savant-like as far as Bad Pop Songs go. While she’s made truly appalling music before, but she’s also made some genuinely good songs, too.
I gave all of her previous singles a relisten before getting ready to write this review, and listening to them all in one swoop made something really obvious: Ke$ha has a very limited range. If you want a song to play while doing a round of shots, she’s got ya covered, but she’s something of a one trick pony otherwise. I get that few pop stars have a wide sonic or subject variety, but glitchy, overstimulating, and yes, sleazy sounds and lyrics are vital to Ke$ha’s identity in a way that they aren’t for other pop stars. It worked back in 2010; “Tik Tok” was the biggest song of the year, and she was a big part of the club pop trend. But, now that the club bubble’s burst, can she stay relevant or adapt?
“Die Young” starts by reminding us that fuck it, if Flo Rida can still have a hit, so can Ke$ha. At least that’s the only explainable reason for why “Die Young” starts with a slightly retweaked take on the intro to Flo’s “Good Feeling”. And while it’s still very much a Dr. Luke and Benny Blanco single, it still feels somewhat organic by Ke$ha standards. The acoustic guitar from “Good Feeling” is back, and there’s some organic drum work in the prechorus. It’s kind of slick, but also makes for a deflating first listen or two; “Die Young” can’t help but sound like more of the same.
A lot of “Die Young” is also flatout forgettable. It’s no surprise in a pop song when the chorus does all of the work, but “Die Young”‘s chorus is the only memorable part of the song. That strikes me as something new for Ke$ha; even her verses were reliable for some inane lines. What have we got this time?
“Young hearts, out our minds/running like we outta time/Wild childs, lookin’ good/Livin’ hard just like we should” So are we skipping the part where she tells us she’s at a party, or is it just assumed at this point?
“Looking for some trouble tonight/Take my hand, I’ll show you the wild side” “Hey I heard you were the wild on–no, that’s Flo Rida again. You ever get the feeling that Ke$ha and Flo Rida are the people who insist that the party keeps going even after everyone else has left or passed out and the sun’s coming up? At this point, I’d chalk the similarities up to neither of them knowing how to do anything but party as opposed to copycating.
“Young hunks, taking shots/Stripping down to dirty socks” Hey, how do you take all of the fun out of drunk, hormone induced naked time? Include the phrase “dirty socks”. All the fun of imagining these good looking naked people…gone, because I keep focusing on dirty socks.
“I hear your heart beat to the beat of the drums/Oh what a shame that you came here with someone/So while you’re here in my arms” A little cliche, but the melody’s good here, so I’ll allow it. That and the drum beat after the first line’s a nice touch.
“Let’s make the most of the night like we’re gonna die young” So the song’s meaning is basically someone shouting “YOLO!”.
Like I said, the chorus is really catchy and high energy, but “Die Young” strikes me as kind of eh. It’s a little smoother around the edges–imagine vodka and Redbull instead of shooting bottom-shelf tequila–but it’s more of the same. Maybe “Die Young” will be what “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” was to Red: a pop lead-in to a surprisingly diverse album. Ke$ha’s got enough personality and frankly enough weirdness that she’d be able to get away with more than this, and it’d be fun to see her try. But, of course, there’s always that party to be had, and if it ain’t broke, why fix it?