For every Dr. Luke production, there is an equal and opposite Dr. Luke reproduction.
With Cannibal, Ke$ha takes her debut (Animal) and gives it the Lady Gaga repackaging formula that worked so well in 2009: As The Fame Monster is to The Fame, Cannibal is a one-upping the original Animal package with a thematically darker, harder hitting series of eight tracks produced by the top pop titans of the 21st century, including Dr. Luke, Max Martin, Bangladesh and Benny Blanco.
The EP’s raucous (and wildly successfully) lead single “We R Who We R” is perhaps the best bridge between Animal and Cannibal–a surging sting of stomping beats, lyrical ludicrousness and stinging electro production. “Tonight we’re going har-har-har-har-hard,” she sing-stutters as the impossibly catchy chorus swarms into the speakers.
Dancing like she’s dumb with Jesus on her neck-uh-luss-us, “We R Who We R” is Ke$ha’s glitter and vomit-drenched contribution to the newly established genre of “It Gets Better” pop as labeled by my good friend Sam Lansky, one of the more recent trends in pop music as a companion to the surge of anti-bullying campaigns from outside the industry (“Raise Your Glass”/”Firework”/”Pretty Girl Rock”/Born This Way).
Along from the lead single, the EP offers several storming, club-ready tracks, including the absolutely phenomenal “Blow” (“This place about to blow!”) and “Cannibal.” “Oh-oh-oh-OH!” the trash princess howls with a primal lunacy during the song’s bridge, a rallying call to hunt down any and all bearers of the Y chromosome. With a relentless electro-tribal beat (and a quick Jeffrey Dahmer name-check), “Cannibal” is a positively scrumptious saga of blood-lust.
But Ke$ha isn’t always drinking blood and sucking bones. She likes to play with her prey first.
“Sleazy” is the major album highlight, as K$ waxes positively nasty, both in terms of beats and brags. “Rat-a-tat-tat on your dumb, dumb drum / The beat’s so phat, gonna make me come, um, um um…over to your place!” she taunts. The song’s beat is an unholy brand of infectious, as the ever-reliable Bangladesh’s thick hip-hop loops (Kelis‘ “Bossy,” Beyonce‘s “Diva”) ceaselessly grind and pound on repeat.
“Sleazy” is only the most appropriate title for this filthy number, so don’t be at all surprised if you find yourself shirtless by the song’s end.
At the same time, it’s the slower cuts–“C U Next Tuesday,” the Billboard mix of “Animal” and “The Harold Song” that find Ke$ha at her finest moments stylistically. Much as with “Dancing With Tears In My Eyes” and “Hungover” off of the debut record, Ke$ha does heartbreak astonishingly well. (Remember, she is a fairly amazing singer behind all the dirt.)
“I miss your soft lips, I miss your white sheets / I miss the scratch of your unshaven face on my cheek,” she softly croons with conviction on “The Harold Song,” the most emotional offering on the album. It’s not a proud thing to admit that the singer of “Blah Blah Blah” has the ability to inspire a tear or two, but between the tender lyrics and those lonesome, pained howls in between the verse and choruses, it’s hard not to become briefly affected.
In the end though, Ke$ha is still Ke$ha (why fix it if it ain’t broken?), which is why the bottle talk, party hopping and smack talk is still very much alive and well on tracks like “Crazy Beautiful Life” and “Grow A Pear,” arguably one of the entertainer’s most absurd concoctions yet. “I signed up for a man, but you are just a bitch,” Ke$ha offers with disgust above a 8-Bit glitched-up beat, “You should know that I love you a lot, but I just can’t date a dude with a vag.”
Full of double standards? Yes. Reinforcing traditional gender stereotypes? God, yes. But fun? Why, of course! And yes, she really does say “mangina” at one point. Silly Sebert.
In a winter that is truly shaping up to be less-than-stellar in terms of major label releases, Cannibal is a more than welcome trash-pop diversion. While the singer’s brand of chuckle pop and her speak-sing vocal styling will never prove entirely appetizing (or fulfilling) as a whole, a quick listen to this worthy follow-up to Ke$ha’s debut will have you slipping into your silver hot pants and smearing on the neon glitter warpaint in thirty minutes flat. Guaranteed.