Pop Singer Ke$ha Admits All Her Singles Sound the Same

Ke$ha asked fans to petition her label for the release of The Harold Song
Ke$ha asked fans to petition her label for the release of The Harold Song

Anyone who has heard Ke$ha's songs on the radio know they all revolve around the same theme of partying and wild behavior. Anyone who knows a lot about Ke$ha would know that she's never been happy about it. In 2011, she asked fans to petition her label to release her emotional track The Harold Song. It never happened. When Die Young, C'mon and Crazy Kids were released from her current album Warrior, she always seemed like she was just going through the motions and didn't seem too interested in promoting them. She also refused to perform her feature track Timber with Pitbull.

Ke$ha (real name Kesha Sebert) has now revealed in a Rolling Stone Magazine interview that all of her singles sound pretty much the same:

"I’d like to show the world other sides of my personality. I don’t want to just continue putting out the same song and becoming a parody myself. I have so much more to offer than that and I can’t wait till the world really gets to hear that on the radio."

If you've never heard a Ke$ha ballad, you're missing out on her best songs

Many people incorrectly conclude that all of Ke$ha's songs sound the same. This is completely untrue. In fact, she has far more songs about love and heartbreak than she has about partying and craziness. And sure, she likes to party and say and do bizarre stuff. Few things are funnier and crazier than a Ke$ha interview on late night TV. But it's just one aspect of who she is.

Bradley Stern from the music website MuuMuse says about Ke$ha:

"...anyone who knows the singer beyond the odd Top 40 hit being plugged at radio, she’s got more up her sleeves than just dried body paint and glitter. She’s a genuinely talented singer-songwriter...beyond the hit records, it’s her somber, slower cuts like Animal‘s “Stephen” and “Blind,” Cannibal‘s “The Harold Song” (her greatest, most devastatingly beautiful song to date), Warrior‘s “Love Into The Light” and dozens of her pre-fame demos (like the stripped guitar-led 2000 ballad “Goodbye”) that showcase her genuine talent."

The Warrior Compromise

Ke$ha has absolutely no control over what becomes a single that gets sent to radio. This isn't unusual. What is unusual is that she's not allowed to release any ballads or meaningful songs like every other pop girl. According to Click Music:

"When...asked if she had creative control over her artistry and what she releases, she confirmed that everything up to this point has been done to perpetuate an image favoured by her producers."

She didn't want to write any party songs for Warrior but she was told she had to because she couldn't release music she wasn't "known for." The album ended up having party songs that her label boss Dr. Luke wanted to release to the radio.

While many of the tracks on the album had the rock, country, folk and retro sounds Ke$ha wanted, none of those songs were ever sent to radio. The singles in no way represented the overall sound of the album. Not surprisingly, hardly anyone bought it despite largely positive reviews. Many critics picked up on the creative tug-of-war that became Warrior. The Billboard reviewer said:

"Ke$ha seems to be fighting desperately to make another record entirely"

A reviewer with Yahoo! OMG said:

"But it's the two tracks which strip away her familiar usual studio trickery which turn out to be the highlights, firstly the gorgeously melancholic piano-rock ballad, 'Wonderland,' which could be mistaken for latter-day Sheryl Crow, and secondly the atmospheric closer, 'Love Into The Light,' which even contains a burst of air drums that appear to have escaped from an 80s Phil Collins record.

In the end, 'Warrior' sounds like a compromise between the record Ke$ha wanted to make and the record Ke$ha's label wanted her to make. But there's little doubt over whose vision emerges victorious."

Ke$ha's Full Rolling Stone Comments

There’s an online petition trying to emancipate you from your longtime producer, Dr. Luke. Have you seen it? I have, yeah.

On 10/29/2013 Ke$ha's mother tweeted the creative freedom petition and then later deleted it. She also thanked fans (Animals) for supporting her daughter
On 10/29/2013 Ke$ha's mother tweeted the creative freedom petition and then later deleted it. She also thanked fans (Animals) for supporting her daughter

They have over 3300 signatures now. Their argument is that Dr. Luke, and I’m quoting them here, is “controlling Ke$ha like a puppet.” Is this a petition you support? I feel like my fans are really protective of me. They just want to see me grow as an artist, which I agree with. Hopefully in the future, I’ll be in a position where I can put out a ballad or a more vulnerable song.

You don’t have any creative control now? Not really. What’s been put out as singles have just perpetuated a particular image that may or may not be entirely accurate. I’d like to show the world other sides of my personality. I don’t want to just continue putting out the same song and becoming a parody myself. I have so much more to offer than that and I can’t wait till the world really gets to hear that on the radio.

Songs on Warrior that sound nothing like the Singles Die Young and Crazy Kids

Teenager Kesha Sebert was told she was too ugly to be a singer

The #FreeKesha Petition

In September 2013, an online petition was launched to win creative freedom for Ke$ha that even legendary rock producer Bob Ezrin signed. Ezrin produced her duet What Baby Wants with Alice Cooper and her Amnesty International Bob Dylan cover Don't Think Twice, It's All Right. He said:

"Ke$ha is one of the most talented singers I have ever worked with - and she is more than that: she's a real artist. In our business, this is rare and must always be celebrated and allowed to flourish...I love K$ and think she is much stronger than even she may realize. I believe that she will rise above this and I am signing here to show my support and deep affection. B"

The people behind the petition are rumored to be in direct communication with her and her mom Pebe Sebert and both follow the @freekeshaluke petitioners on Twitter. The petition starts out saying something that's very true:

"Ke$ha gets "bullied" as being one dimensional, or a one trick pony."

The reason given for this is Ke$ha's contract with mega pop producer Dr. Luke:

"Ke$ha is "forced" to work with the same collective group of people, through each record. Dr. Luke is controlling ke$ha like a puppet, feeding her what she doesn't want, and her creativity is dwindling and affected negativity."

Now, some people ask why Ke$ha signed with pop's biggest producer if she didn't want to make dance music, since all of her favorite artists are rock, country and punk legends. Ke$ha's professional singing and songwriting career started as a teen, years before Tik Tok. At that time, she mainly sang and recorded pop rock, rock, and country songs.

There were a few reasons. She had just turned 18 when she signed on with him. Her songwriter mother's connections within the music industry told Ke$ha to give up her dreams of being a singer because she was "too ugly" to succeed, so it's not surprising that she jumped at a promising opportunity that came her way. And at that time, Dr. Luke was an up-and-coming producer who was still playing guitar on Saturday Night Live. He was producing pop rock songs for singers like P!nk and Kelly Clarkson. Pop radio changed and Ke$ha got caught up in the dance wave. The fact that she didn't know that Tik Tok was a good song until people started telling her it was shows how out of her element she was making dance music. It's a testament to her talent that she was actually so good at it. The RKD music blog summed up their article on Ke$ha's label troubles with this:

"Poor Ke$ha. It ain’t easy being a rock star disguised as a pop star."

A Care2 petition asking Sony Music to release Kesha from her recording contract has more than 100k signatures
A Care2 petition asking Sony Music to release Kesha from her recording contract has more than 100k signatures

It took weeks for the entertainment media to find out about the petition. When they did most were skeptical and some mocked the fans behind it. They thought it was fans making excuses for Ke$ha's flopped Warrior album and two flop singles C'mon and Crazy Kids (the movement is still going strong despite Ke$ha having worldwide success with her current feature single Timber). Articles asked why Ke$ha would possibly want to be freed from the biggest hitmaker in pop music.

Maybe it was hard for them to believe that the girl with a dollar sign in her stage name who got her big break rapping about brushing her teeth with a bottle of Jack actually cared more about music than commercial success. The fact that Ke$ha brought legends and alternative artists on board as collaborators on Warrior should have made it obvious that she isn't your typical hit focused popstar. The Flaming Lips, Ben Folds, Iggy Pop, Patrick Carney and The Strokes helped out on the album.

And a lot of people in the media don't seem to realize that Ke$ha is signed directly to Luke's label. Singers like Katy Perry and Miley Cyrus who have had massive Dr. Luke produced hits aren't tied to him. They're hiring him to work for them as a producer. He doesn't control their careers and they can move onto someone else if they feel he isn't working out for them. This isn't the case for Ke$ha, who has tried many times to work with outside producers like The Flaming Lips, Nathan Chapman, David Gamson and Matt Squire, only to have most of those songs rejected in favor of Dr. Luke productions.

I hope to hear blues rock songs like this one on Kesha's next album

Dr. Luke Seems Out-of-touch

The flopping of Warrior was not at all the cause of Ke$ha's dissatisfaction. She started airing complaints about her record label starting with her book My Crazy Beautiful Life. The book came out when Ke$ha was still a success story. Die Young was a huge hit for her at the time. Her flop album Warrior hadn't been released yet. She explained in the book how she was told by Dr. Luke to change the sound she wanted on the album because he was concerned the songs she was recording wouldn't be played on the radio.

I listen to a lot of pop radio, so I'm shocked that the most successful pop producer around appears so clueless about what actually sells now. The success of Adele and alternative crossover artists has completely changed the sound of pop radio. The format is now filled with R&B, funk, folk pop, electro-rock, pop rock and ballads as well as Electronic Dance Music (EDM) and pop songs that have meaningful lyrics.

Generic party songs don't sell like they used to. Some of Ke$ha's rejected demos like Meet Me In Space, and album tracks like the heartbreaking folk pop track Last Goodbye, soft rock love song Only Wanna Dance With You and anti-hate ballad Love Into the Light were far more radio friendly than the generic party songs Luke demanded.

Dr. Luke also told Miley Cyrus that her song Wrecking Ball, which he produced, wouldn't be a number 1 hit. The first time I heard the song, I knew it would be huge for her. And it did reach number 1.

Update:

Since I wrote this, Kesha has filed a lawsuit against Dr. Luke accusing him of sexually, physically, verbally and emotionally abusing her starting when she signed on with him in 2005. She's asked a court to grant her an injunction that would allow her to sign to a new record label until her case is resolved. There will be a hearing on February 19th, 2016 to determine whether she'll be granted that injunction. If successful, she'll release new music in 2016.

A new Kesha demo called Lover was leaked by the producers Spookey Ruben and Schpilkas. It's a mature, experimental indie electronic track that was apparently recorded in 2013. It's one more example of what post-Luke Kesha music will sound like. Spookey Ruben accused Dr. Luke of having their official versions of the song removed from YouTube, Vimeo and Soundcloud.

You can sign Care2's petition asking Sony Music to drop Kesha from her contracts here.

Spookey Ruben accused Dr. Luke of having official versions of the Kesha track Lover removed from YouTube
Spookey Ruben accused Dr. Luke of having official versions of the Kesha track Lover removed from YouTube
Allegations from the Free Kesha Luke movement
Allegations from the Free Kesha Luke movement

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Comments 29 comments

prajwalpokharel profile image

prajwalpokharel 3 years ago from kathmandu

Haha so true .....

First hub title which made me laugh ..... i am your fan man


Learn Things Web profile image

Learn Things Web 3 years ago from California Author

Thanks prajwalpokharel. I'm glad she finally came out and said what everyone thinks at this point.


Andrew Channing profile image

Andrew Channing 3 years ago from UK

It gives evidence to the fact that music companies are too controlling of the music we get to hear on the radio.. I can see why artists get fed up


TOPTENKIDS profile image

TOPTENKIDS 3 years ago from USA

I think that she is just a freak show. That is all anyone wants anymore. Someone that is psychotic.


Learn Things Web profile image

Learn Things Web 3 years ago from California Author

Andrew Channing, They are way too controlling and oppressive and there are so many stories similar to hers. I think music would be so much better if they let the artists create.


Learn Things Web profile image

Learn Things Web 3 years ago from California Author

TOPTENKIDS, A lot of great and creative people are a little "out there." But she has a reputation for being a very nice and good person. And she's one of the better behaved celebrities. She's never been in any kind of trouble.


Jake 3 years ago

Kesha isn't psychotic. Like most other people on the planet, she believes strongly in the supernatural. She's no more of a freak than people who believe in Christianity or any other religion. Nonmainstream faith based beliefs are no crazier than mainstream faith based beliefs. At least she doesn't use those beliefs to hurt or oppress anyone.

As for her label issues, I'll never understand why labels sign talented people and then refuse to let them use it. Good for her for putting up a fight. She's capable of making much better music than they're allowing her to make.


Learn Things Web profile image

Learn Things Web 3 years ago from California Author

Jake, I personally don't care what she believes as long as she makes great music.


PaulGoodman67 profile image

PaulGoodman67 3 years ago from Florida USA

Unfortunately, I was effectively forced listen to Ke$ha until my teenage daughter grew out of her music. I find it hilarious that she's admitted that all her songs sound the same! :-D


Learn Things Web profile image

Learn Things Web 3 years ago from California Author

Paul, She admitted that all of her singles (songs released to the radio) sound the same. It's definitely not the case that all of her songs sound the same, since she covers so many genres. She's actually very diverse musically. But what she can release is being heavily controlled by her record label and she's become very frustrated by it. She wants to grow musically but her label doesn't want to let her.


Sarah 3 years ago

Paul's comment about his daughter growing out of Ke$ha's music is evidence of how badly she's been marketed. She has so many lovely songs that would appeal to every age group but hardly anyone knows about them. My mom is 56. She listens to Joni Mitchell, John Denver and Johnny Cash. She's hates most of Ke$ha's upbeat songs but she loves her ballads and deeper songs. She has about 40 Ke$ha songs on her iPod. She's the only singer that's come along in the last 20 years, my mom will listen to. I hadn't heard of Innocence and Pills before. My mom will love it. It's the kind of music she absolutely loves.


Learn Things Web profile image

Learn Things Web 3 years ago from California Author

Sarah, Innocence and Pills just leaked about a week ago. It's such a fantastic song. I really want to see Ke$ha go more in a rock, country rock and blues rock direction. It's the kind of music her voice is best suited to.


CJ 3 years ago

Wow! I knew Kesha was good but Innocence and Pills is amazing. She needs to be able to do these kinds of songs. They're wasting her talent.


Learn Things Web profile image

Learn Things Web 3 years ago from California Author

CJ, It's sad that Ke$ha is capable of making much better music than they'll allow her to make.


Tygher41 profile image

Tygher41 3 years ago from Boynton Beach, FL

Great Hub! It's a shame that artists produce ONE particular song and that is all the exec's and label's want them to do from now on. It's a tough situation to free yourself from, especially when it's something that doesn't showcase your talent, just makes you seem "crazy" and "out of control". This problem is across the board with all different genres of music.


KenDeanAgudo profile image

KenDeanAgudo 3 years ago from Tiwi, Philippines

kesha was a nice wild singer.


Learn Things Web profile image

Learn Things Web 3 years ago from California Author

Tygher41,

The record labels are very shortsighted. Nobody wants to hear someone doing the same song over and over. And that's what she's being forced to do because her label hopes that she can produce another Tik Tok sized hit. It doesn't seem to occur to them that she could have an equally big hit with a completely different type of song.


Hezekiah profile image

Hezekiah 3 years ago from Japan

Being signed up to major record labels doesn't always allow that flexibility. Remember Stock, Aitken and Waterman tracks all sounding the same. Similar story.


Learn Things Web profile image

Learn Things Web 3 years ago from California Author

Hezekiah,

Dr. Luke is the modern version of Stock, Aitken and Waterman. It's sad that that's how a lot of popular music is made and it's been that way for a long time.


rebekahELLE profile image

rebekahELLE 3 years ago from Tampa Bay

Good info and song selections for Ke$ha. Kudos to Rolling Stone for the candid interview. She's so talented. The music industry is just that, it's an industry, no longer an art form for the artists.


Learn Things Web profile image

Learn Things Web 3 years ago from California Author

rebekahELLE,

Ke$ha really is very talented and it's sad that business people aren't letting her reach her full potential. I'm glad she was honest with Rolling Stone. She needed to let fans know that she supports the Free Kesha movement.


Sapphire 2 years ago

Ke$ha is the best!!!


torrilynn profile image

torrilynn 2 years ago

I absolutely love Kesha her music and her style i think she would be good at doing a ballad she just has to make sure she has the right song mostly she has to transition over slowly cause she is known for her wild partying songs thanks for the article. Voted up.


Learn Things Web profile image

Learn Things Web 2 years ago from California Author

torrilynn, I think Last Goodbye would be a good transition song for her. It's upbeat musically and has emotional lyrics. But it's sad that she's been put into a position where she's known for only party songs by the public after 4 years on the charts.


DISCIPLE 2 years ago

LOVE YOU FOREVER GOD$HA


Chad 2 years ago

I think they'll end up parting ways sometime this year. Kesha has outgrown Luke artistically so it's fine by me.


Learn Things Web profile image

Learn Things Web 2 years ago from California Author

Chad,

I think it may end up becoming a separation as well. We'll see.


Jessica 2 years ago

I listened to her Warrior album a few weeks ago because I kept reading comments about how great it was. I was stunned because the three singles literally represent a total of four tracks on the album. The other 12 songs sound nothing like the singles and weren't represented on the radio at all. It's the norm to release singles that give people an idea what the whole album sounds like. I don't care for the singles but I love most of the album. Dr. Luke may be great when it comes to creating hits but he clearly doesn't have the skills needed to manage someone's singing career.


Learn Things Web profile image

Learn Things Web 2 years ago from California Author

Jessica,

The music Ke$ha makes is very different from the music people think she makes. The singles since the beginning of her career haven't been representative of most of what's on her albums. It's very odd and I can't understand why those decisions were made.

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