In the way that 2010 saw the ascendancy of Lady Gaga, 2011 may be the year of Ke$ha.
The 23-year-old singer-songwriter who was born Kesha Sebert is limbering up for a tour of her U.S. homeland after conquering Europe in the run-up to Christmas.
Well, that’s how her publicists see it. They portray the star as the electro-pop party animal of teenage girls’ dreams: a bourbon swilling, rich dudes’ house-trashing minx.
The fun starts in Portland, Oregon, in February. If the U.K. shows are any guide, expect a writhing mass of Mohican haircuts and ripped stockings, cross-dressing cheerleaders and industrial quantities of glitter. Ke$ha’s teenaged audience, many dressed like their idol, lap it all up and reach their first moments of pop bliss.
Ke$ha’s live show is pure trash. There’s madcap mayhem (all scripted), outrageous behavior (mostly harmless) and dance music so plastic it will take an ice age before it biodegrades.
Two male dancers grab their crotches and pour beer over Ke$ha. She plays keyboards, struts in gold tiny hot pants and poses with a guitar shaped like a rifle. She introduces “Take It Off” as a song “about taking off your clothes” before not taking anything off.
Ke$ha has worked with Benny Blanco and Dr Luke, two of the most successful (and expensive) producer/ songwriters, known for their work with Katy Perry and Britney Spears. “Animal” is Bonnie Tyler re-imagined in Casiotone. At its brazenly vile best, “Your Love Is My Drug” and “Tik Tok” are everything good-time pop should be: catchy, disposable and unforgettable.
Ke$ha to Weller
Paul Weller is back on fighting form. The 52-year-old British Mod rocker, whose next shows are also in February, has plenty of ammunition from his excellent album, “Wake Up the Nation,” its 2008 predecessor “22 Dreams” and three-minute bursts of punk by the Jam, his first band.
Weller betters Oasis’s big rock noise and Blur’s concise catchy tunes. “Fast Car/Slow Traffic” jabs at the absurdity of inner-city sports cars, while “7 & 3 Is the Strikers Name” displays steel toe-capped rage.
Weller, sporting a simple black T-shirt and more salt than pepper hair, goes beyond Mod stylings and punk sneer. “Andromeda” immerses itself in psychedelia, “Moonshine” is hell-raising rock ‘n’ roll and “Aim High” mines Northern Soul.
What the Stars Mean: **** Excellent *** Good ** Average * Poor (No stars) Worthless
Ke$ha’s “Get $leazy Tour” resumes in Oregon on Feb. 15, taking in Seattle, Salt Lake City and Chicago. It moves to Australia and Japan in March. U.S. dates, including New York follow, in April. Information: http://www.Ke$hasparty.com/us/events
Paul Weller plays Aberdeen and Newcastle, U.K., starting on Feb. 3. Information: http://www.paulweller.com/gigs.php
(Robert Heller is a music critic for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. The opinions expressed are his own.)