January 1, 2010 was the start of not just the new year but also a brand new musical artist. Kesha had released her now eight-time Platinum selling single “Tik Tok” the summer of 2009 and with the new decade came her debut album, Animal. Kesha was something so unlike most artists at the time. She was eye catching but not necessarily in an interesting way like Lady Gaga was or a quirky way like Katy Perry at the time. She looked a little gross, with glitter covering her entire body and her songs were so heavily saturated in auto tune you would have thought she was probably a computer. But with this initial appearance, she was undeniably and strikingly different. Throughout her songs, she comes off as confident and candid, fun but also genuine. Her initial few released were zany, highly energetic but also laden with real life that literally everyone at the time listened to her, whether they like to admit it or not. Kesha came around at a time where music was starting to collect around a common theme again, after the transitional period of around 2008 and 2009. Animal was one of the first modern pop records to fully embrace electronica and was one of the pioneering albums of dance pop music that was to come.
To write this review, I had to flashback about ten years and the feeling is stranger than any I’ve ever experienced. 8th grade was the scene, all I wore were black skinny jeans, my hair was an awkward mess and Kesha’s “Your Love Is My Drug” was all over the radio. “Tik Tok” came off as a great party song but me being the loser I was, was more drawn to this one. This was an intriguing song that used drug addiction as a metaphor for falling in love created with simple production not veering too heavy into electronica,. Maybe this wasn’t the most original idea, I agree, but Kesha made it so entertaining that to this day, I can still listen to this song on repeat. Even the “I like your beard” part at the end was quirky enough to get my thirteen year old self interested in hearing more from her. Soon enough, I was so intrigued after only two songs I marched into F.Y.E and paid like, fourteen dollars for a physical copy of this record. I have to admit, the singles released from this one were great but throughout the entire thing, there are so many more memorable moments hidden in every song. “Kiss N Tell” puts being cheated on in a lighter feel, emphasizing getting over the person, while “Hey Stephen” is a hilarious story about a boy Kesha’s obsessing over who won’t give her the time of day. Extremely entertaining but also relatable, these two became some of my instant favorites. “Backstabber” comes up as one of the most remarkable songs on here, in terms of it’s unique Vegas-like production and lyrics about a girl friend who won’t stop running her mouth. And, of course, there are some fantastic breakup songs such as “Blind” and “Dancing With Tears In My Eyes” where every beat is so perfectly placed and where you can hear real guitar instrumentals for possibly the first time on the record.
Of course, if I’m talking about Animal I also have to mention the EP that followed fittingly titled Cannibal. This one produced the smash singles “We R Who We R” and “Blow”, going with the same vibe as Animal did. Although it’s only a few extra songs, the contents of this one are at times even better than the full length debut is. “c u Next Tuesday” and “The Harold Song” take on a softer approach in terms of lyrics and production while “Grow A Pear” contains lines that wouldn’t be as accepted today as they were back then, like “I just can’t date a dude with a vag”. The title track “Cannibal” is creepy but undeniably a good representation of pop music from the time and “Sleazy” takes on a more hip hop vibe. There really isn’t a boring song between Animal and Cannibal, and underneath all of the seemingly mindless pop tunes there are moments that showcase the real person behind them.
On the surface, this is a simple pop album. But underneath all of the electronic production, we’ve got a real artist who wrote and lived the story of each song. It’s amazing how you can actually hear the genuine nature behind each track that’s interlaced in synthesizer and electronica. This record is so relatable and empowering, where instead of dwelling on toxic people and unfortunate situations, Kesha shows us a side of life where you can be jubilant throughout all the negativity. Besides being well put together in general, this album is a perfect time capsule of the years 2010 and 2011, and is one that I can listen to constantly. It’s stupidly entertaining, uplifting and depressing at the time, and something with this level of charisma and real life won’t be easy to replicate.