The Lead Off
The album was quite successfully headed off by the massive "We R Who We R," a track dedicated and written in response to the bullying of gay youths that led to some highly publicized suicides. The track is a call to be yourself and be happy with yourself, and while the lyrical content focuses more on Ke$ha and her friends, the concept is sound. "We R Who We R" is immensely catchy and subsequently topped the Billboard Hot 100 chart. However it isn't a huge departure from the style she introduced us to with Animal and the singles "Tik Tok," "Your Love Is My Drug," and "Take It Off."
Cannibal does introduce some new sounds for the singer though, particularly with the title track and "Sleazy." "Cannibal," the album's opening number, immediately slaps you in your face with its dirty and pulsing beat. She showcases her voice more in "Cannibal" (albeit more with the yodeling she began on Animal). The effect is unsettling, which is precisely what is intended. She sings about eating the boy she has her eye set on, threatening to "pull a Jeffrey Dahmer." What could have been presented as proof of her singing abilities comes across more as a tribal howl of conquest, with Ke$ha beating her chest as her meal softly rotates over an open flame.
Second Verse, Same As The First Some of it is par for the course, but that's not a bad thing at all. "Blow,", the album's second single (due out February 1st), is a hyperrepresentation of the entire Ke$ha experience. If you want this girl summed up in 3 minutes, "Blow" is where you go. It is heavy, hard-hitting electro that totally exemplifies the party girl lifestyle she portrays. Conversely, "C U Next Tuesday" (oh har har) is a slower electropop ballad about writing off an unavailable man who keeps making advances on her. The track employs a more retro synth vibe and she sings more than raps, which makes for a nice departure but ultimately feels like a filler track rather than a killer track. The same can be said of the pensive love story "The Harold Song." It's engaging, but not a killer track like what most of Cannibal offers. Sounding like a track recorded during the rest of Animal, "Crazy Beautiful Life" moves at the pace of Ke$ha and is cutely catchy.
The song "Grow A Pear" has been the subject of some controversy in the transgendered community. The track, which is a catchy and tongue-in-cheek sendoff to a boy she thought would man up, utilizes the word "mangina" and the line "I just can't date a dude with a vag." Well, the association is clear, but the intention is not. The FTM (female-to-male) community seems to find this an incredible insult, with one guy posting a YouTube video calling Ke$ha a hypocrite and saying the awesome words of "I'm a man and I love my c*nt."
Cannibal is another strong proclamation that Ke$ha is a modern day popstar. She isn't convoluted and theatrical like Gaga, nor is she a sex pot like Katy Perry, or crazy like Britney Spears. Her music is simple and effective, and Cannibal is no exception. There are hints of stylistic evolution on Cannibal, including "Sleazy" and the Billboard remix of "Animal." When a sophomore album drops, I am curious to see if she will focus on maintaining the pop or if she will try to gain some actual credibility as an artist. Until then, I fully plan on enjoying her own unique brand of pop.