There is a certain zen to Kesha. I mean yes, she’s my favorite pop musician of the last twenty years and many a late night drive has been fueled by her party hearty sound, but that doesn’t make her any less of a Buddha. After hundreds of listens of her albums, EP’s and various deep cuts I’ve started to realize that maybe there is something more to why I love Kesha. There is something more to her that I don’t see in her peers. Maybe that’s why I’ve crossed paths with extreme music fanatics across the globe who sing her praises and remember her as ‘something different’. Now as I prepare to buy tickets to see her perform this summer I look back at my love affair with Kesha and try to analyze why I fell for her in the first place.
See, I wasn’t always a Kesha fan. In fact, there was a time at the peak of her popularity where I absolutely hated Kesha. I simply couldn’t take her message at the time. I mean, I was a lame 14 year old, but still, I utterly rejected all that she had to offer. When I consider the type of people she appealed to in that period I don’t especially regret that I spent late middle school and early high school listening to Darkthrone rather than obsessing over a woman who so many billed as a mere pop princess. The fundamental issue with any pop musician is that people are shitty and if you’re a serious fan of music in general you’ll have a hard time accepting the music when you have to deal with godawful fans.
She won me back over when reading about the frankly terrifying rape case going on around her right now. I decided to listen to Tik Tok, the hit single that made her a queen of American radio and I was immediately entranced. This was not the pop princess I had been sold. In fact, Kesha is far more of a punk rocker than anyone truly gave her credit for. Her songs aren’t just about wild nights at the club, they are about drinking yourself into oblivion and then forgetting the consequences. Kesha is not a woman who does things by half measures or who merely falls in love for a night while twerking on some dude, she is a veritable goddess.
I think the lasting appeal of Kesha is that she knows what she wants and is not afraid to get it. She couches this in a very heavy metal iconography (Just look at the pentagrams and cult symbolism in the video for “Die Young”) and a sense of Herculean struggle. Every night is destined to be the best night ever, every party the craziest yet, and the faith that the next night will be even better is rock solid. Her desires remain fairly straightforward though – hell she even outlines them for us in a song titled “Boots & Boys” She also has an obsession with gold Trans Ams but she has a song about that too. Rather than the nebulous search for ‘true love’ or ‘the perfect life’ Kesha is a fast taker. Sure she periodically cuts someone at the knees for betraying her, but that’s what happens when you run with a wild child.
That doesn’t get to her zen though. Her zen while best seen in the songs about partying, is also prevalent in the ones about hangovers and day to dat life. We see that for Kesha, life is all about living in the moment and though we face our struggles we can always fix them with a dose of Jack Daniels and a hot guy. Sure one day the party will end (As Back In Wonderland shows us) but for now all that matters is the beautiful life. I know that might sound weird coming from a dude who writes so much about death metal and who loves planning ahead, but sometimes you need Kesha to tell you to get your head out of your ass and just enjoy the moment and forget the consequences that tomorrow might bring.
It might sound overtly pretentious and super silly to be referring to the woman who sang “VIP” as a Zen master – but the more I look into it the more I find it to be true. The only thing that seems to truly bother Kesha is betrayal, and she has a solution for that. In her own words, “Some shit is about to go down.” Maybe she is too attached to her emotions at times, but so is every boddhisatva, she’s merely doing her best. The fact that she can spend so much of her time reveling in Dionysian displays of luxury while confident of her place in the world makes her a far more enlightened human than I.
Kesha has singlehandedly been able to encourage a change in my psyche. While I still can be really anal and stressed out a lot of the time, she has taught me that sometimes you just need to go out and splurge on a Trans Am. She has taught me that I need to embrace living in the moment and sometimes saying ‘fuck it’ and traveling to Vegas for a long weekend is just something you need to do to preserve your sanity. Kesha teaches us that nothing is permanent so we might as well embrace the madness of the day to day. I don’t know if she’s a Buddhist, but I certainly think that she might have a thing or two in common with the Whirling Dervishes of legend.