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Friday, March 4, 2011
When she emerged in 2009 fully developed as a club-kid pop diva, Kesha Rose Sebert was seen as a trashier version of whatever it is Lady Gaga is supposed to represent. But if you have to resort to comparison for the sake of description, it would be more accurate at this point in time to call Ke$ha the white Nicki Minaj, an analogy some may find specious, though vocally the distinctions are instructive. Both young women come across as brash and sexually confident, and utilize stark techno to achieve their respective musical ends, but Minaj, the biggest thing in mainstream hip-hop at the moment, raps and sings with a B-girl vernacular flow while Ke$ha wields valley girl diphthongs so intimidating that the forces of auto tune quake in their presence.
Ke$ha's statement of purpose, "We R Who We R," crystalizes her generically saucy appeal ("we're dancing like we're dumb / our bodies going numb"), but it's "Sleazy" that reveals where she's really coming from. Insisting that money doesn't impress her, she professes to being in the club only for the rhythm and the drinks, which she and her friends (who have sneaked in) happily finish off after the better-heeled patrons abandon them when they hit the dance floor. "This place about to blow," she sings, implying she has a personal stake in its destruction, leaving only "dirt and glitter" behind; and as long as she's riding that oxygenated beat she's impossible to ignore, even if you can't always take her seriously. The object of her derision on "Grow a Pear" is a boy who initially gets her hot but turns out to be less of a man than she can countenance; but don't confuse him with the guy in "The Harold Song," a lost love whose memory calls up all sorts of sentimental gunk. Minaj provides the exact same contrasts on her debut album but manages to not make them sound contradictory. Ke$ha is all about contradictions — except for her appetites, which are pretty straightforward. Here's a diva whose first two albums are titled "Animal" and "Cannibal," so all you herbivorous club-boys out there better be careful when she comes to Japan this month. She'll eat you alive.
Ke$ha plays Zepp in Nagoya on March 22 (7 p.m.;  320-9100); Namba Hatch in Osaka on March 23 (7 p.m.;  7732-8888); Shin Kiba Studio Coast in Tokyo on March 25 (7 p.m.) and Zepp in Tokyo on March 26 (6 p.m.;  3462-6969). All shows cost ¥6,800 in advance. For more information, visit www.keshaparty.com.