According to the latest issue of Seventeen, Ke$ha, whose music tends to conjure up a Mad Max–style postapocalyptic world run by feral teenagers, is a little prouder of her voice than you’d think. “I accidentally read a review,” she says, “and it was really positive, but at the end it said, ‘We don’t really know if she has the best voice.’ Which is bullshit … That’s the one thing I’m most confident about. I don’t have the best body in the world, but I know for a fact that I have a really good voice.”
Ke$ha expects so much of us: Now we have to respect her voice, too?
If you’ve heard her singles, there’s a decent chance you’re chuckling at the very idea, either in the spiteful “she’s terrible” way or the supportive “stay nuts, kid” way. But I am in most ways very pro-Ke$ha, so it also makes me feel a little bad for her. She doesn’t even get to test this theory much. The world of grotty feral teenagers and rigorously competitive partying does not much need great singing, and she rarely gets to aim for it — her main vocal modes are a sneery sing-speak and, well, Auto-Tune. When she performed “Tik Tok,” extremely awkwardly, on Saturday Night Live, she kicked off with about twenty seconds of actual solo singing, a move that seemed awfully self-conscious about, you know, proving something. The twenty seconds were cloaked in echo and not all that impressive, but they might actually be less clumsy than her run-through of the song itself — maybe just because it looks like she cares more. Maybe what we’ve all been interpreting as Ke$ha’s “don’t give a fuck” attitude is just a function of the fact that she’d rather be respected as an artist, man.
Alternately, she might just have weird standards. What does it mean for someone to have a “great voice,” anyway? Is “great” Mahalia Jackson, or R. Kelly, or just Bob Pollard? I include that last one — the front man for lo-fi indie mainstay Guided by Voices — because his band actually appears on the “influences” list of Ke$ha’s MySpace page, along with folks like Daniel Johnston (whose voice is all yelping and lisping), Peaches (who mostly grunts), Casiotone for the Painfully Alone (weary mumbling), Lou Barlow (slack-sounding indie crooning), and the Violent Femmes. Maybe she just has really, really indie standards about what constitutes a great voice?