Artist: Ke$ha (now Kesha of course)
US chart peak: 7
Release date: February 8, 2011
Writers: Kesha Sebert, Klas Åhlund, Lukasz Gottwald, Allan Grigg, Benjamin Levin, Max Martin
Producers: Dr Luke, Max Martin, Benny Blanco, Kool Kojak
Quintessential Max moment: That middle eight breakdown bit
Video synopsis: Drugs! Unicorns! Lasers! James Van Der Beek!?
It’s easy with the benefit of hindsight to realise how bored Kesha – someone who’s shown recently how great her voice actually is – sometimes sounded when she was tasked with delivering yet another trashy, alcohol-for-breakfast, Spring Break!!!!! anthem. Some of the songs sound like snapshots of a person painted into a corner by their own whiskey-induced vomit. There were times when it worked of course (‘Tik Tok’, ‘We R Who We R’), but on ‘Blow’ she sounds completely dead behind the eyes and not in the way she and the litany of songwriters and producers intended.
In fact, much of ‘Blow’ sounds like it needs a proper kick up the arse. It wants to give the impression of hedonism and impending rebellion, but the song never quite leaves the record label boardroom. While the lyrics are meant to convey some sort of rallying cry – Kesha told Beatweak magazine they reminded her of her fans: “We’re misfits of society but we’ve banded together and we’re starting a revolution. We are taking over. So get used to it” – they are delivered with all the excitement of someone reading through a checklist of ailments. So dirt and glitter cover the floor, the crazy is about to come out and Kesha would quite like to see those hands in the air etc, but it sort all just makes me want to lay down in a darkened room for a bit.
Recorded and released around the same time as Britney’s ‘Femme Fatale’ album, which featured the work of Max, Dr Luke and, on ’Til The World Ends’, Kesha herself, the song is very much in that same mold. The synths are squelchy and squiggly; the lyrics are wafer thin and the chorus is a stuttering, auto-tuned mass of cut up vocals. The only real deviation from that is the middle eight breakdown bit where it becomes a sort of electro marching band with Kesha demanding to see people’s hands like a monotonous fetishist.
Housed on the ‘Fame Monster’-style cash-in quick ‘Cannibal’ EP, the discrepancy between the Kesha on ‘Blow’ and the ‘real’ Kesha is made plain by the tracklisting. Straight after ‘Blow’ is the lilting ‘The Harold Song’ (notably not produced by Dr Luke), which immediately strikes you as featuring a vocal by someone able to impart real emotion and not just go through the LOL-pop motions.