'Tuned In' review: Ke$ha overextends her fight on 'Warrior'

This March 24, 2012 photo shows singer Ke$ha, who grew up in Nashville, at The 26th Annual Genesis Awards benefiting The Humane Society in Beverly Hills, Calif.

Photo by Dan Steinberg/Associated Press

This March 24, 2012 photo shows singer Ke$ha, who grew up in Nashville, at The 26th Annual Genesis Awards benefiting The Humane Society in Beverly Hills, Calif.

'Warrior' by Ke$ha

"Warrior" by Ke$ha

“Warrior,” Ke$ha (RCA)

Ke$ha’s shtick doesn’t give her much wiggle room.

She has galvanized her “Animals” (fans) with smirking hedonism and a cartoonish, AutoTuned vocal. You don’t have to dig deep to see she’s much smarter and more talented than she lets on, and her crackling raps are both hilarious and infectious. Yet while the girl just wants to have fun, she doesn’t want her career to get Cyndi Lauper’ed — boxed in by outrageousness that upstages her skills and short-circuits her longevity.

So Ke$ha comes out fighting with the new “Warrior,” a branching-out that finds her persona exhibiting multiple-personality disorder.

There’s some rock stuff, ballady things and even an occasional acoustic binge. ... Though somehow her army of top-shelf producers are so heavy-handed with disruptive trickery that she sounds more overcooked here than in her previous electronic blitzkriegs, “Animal” and “Cannibal.”

And not only does Ke$ha sound like an entirely different vocalist when she’s singing than when she’s rapping, she sounds like she’s aping the likes of Katy Perry (on the sappy/trite “Wherever You Are”), as well as Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera (on the perfunctory party song “All That Matters”) and even Phil Collins on the offbeat closer “Love Into the Light” that mimics his “In The Air Tonight” with some success.

Also, the 25-year-old gets her freak on with 65-year-old Iggy Pop on the playful go-go fuzzrock “Dirty Love,” and she and The Strokes squander opportunity on a cheesy “Only Wanna Dance With You” where the band sounds like a B-level New Wave act and she sounds like Carly Rae Jepsen.

Fortunately, there are many quintessential Ke$ha moments on “Warrior,” too, including the punchy hit single “Die Young” (“Let’s make the most of the night like we’re going to die young”) and the charismatically demonstrative “C’Mon.” She also works in plenty of sass, like on the kiss-off to an ex, “Thinking of You” (“Can I hit you later? Gotta hit the stage”), and her twisted imagination fully blooms in the buzzing sex-with-a-ghost song “Supernatural” (“Get a little bit wrong/Get a little bit wild ... Get a little bit raw/Come a little undone”).

The ghost-seducing Ke$ha is far more engaging than the Katy-Perry-wannabe Ke$ha. So she might as well stick to her best game and worry about the future another day.

Rating (five possible): 3-1/2

© 2012 Knoxville.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Comments » 0

Be the first to post a comment!

Want to participate in the conversation? Become a subscriber today. Subscribers can read and comment on any story, anytime. Non-subscribers will only be able to view comments on select stories.

Already activated? Login