What the hell is Ke$ha’s album even going to sound like? First it’s ’70s rock. Next comes a glitter truckful of leaks old and somewhat older, all of which (unsurprisingly, given the timeline) sound pretty much like Ke$ha songs. Next, there’s word of a collaboration with T-Pain–expected–and Pitbull–somewhat less expected, ubiquity or not.
In this company, “Shots on the Hood of My Car” might seem even stranger: a pretty-pretty track about the impending apocalypse. (It’s been released to radio, so it’s most likely a) official and b) real.) Listen below:
Almost immediately, two things sound different. Ke$ha’s backing track purrs rather than sneering, and she’s using her voice differently. People will still call it typical Ke$ha, of course–there’s still autotune and quantizing, she still uses either a bratty singsong or a straight-tone yawp, and about a third of her notes are twisted out of their pitches in post-processing. But where all these affectations normally distort Ke$ha’s voice, the sonic equivalent of her garbage-bag dresses, garish blue lipstick or dreadlocks, here they make it prettier. The oh-oh-ohs strewn throughout wouldn’t sound out of place in “Pretty Girl Rock,” one of the year’s most polished and pleasant tunes. The chorus sounds like Taylor Swift in her poppiest, least quirky vocal guise, full of open sighs of phrases: shooting stars, world still ours, ending starts. When Ke$ha does rap, punching out words like “sickest friends” and “asphalt,” the contrast is so jarring that you half-think it was pasted in later.
This is still a Ke$ha song, though–this isn’t her attempt, a la Nicki Minaj “Your Love,” to cross over to adult contemporary radio–so it’s little surprise that the beneficiary of this newfound beauty is the end of the world. The place is about to blow, but that’s OK for Ke$ha–this is her “The Edge of Glory,” and there are moments on which to hang! She’ll just trek over with her suitably rumpled friends to the Hollywood sign–the site of Ke$ha’s mythological vandalism, you’ll recall–do some blissful shots of otherwise unbuyable top-shelf scotch and watch the world explode into pistol synths and fireworks. Pop’s explored every possible angle of the apocalypse, from dancing until the world ends to screwing because the world might end to tearing shit up in an attempt to make the world end sooner, but rarely does it sound this peaceful. We prefer Ke$ha sounding a bit edgier, but a car can only hold so many shots (for metaphor purposes, let’s assume her list of “sickest friends” is her fanbase.) The hour she runs out will not be pretty.