Admittedly, this tribute is coming about three years too late. I only first listened to Animal, her 2010 debut, in full this weekend (and have been compensating for my oversight by blasting it nonstop over the past three days), but removed from the maelstrom in which it was thrust upon an unsuspecting American public, its charms are on fuller display. The songs are unapologetically and even uncomfortably smutty...and that's the point. Ke$ha plays straight into pop's image of the party girl as the brainless sex toy and takes her power back by ramping everything up to eleven, threatening to literally eat us out on "Cannibal" and turning the word "slut" back on her boyfriend on "Kiss N Tell" (and flipping the overemotional girlfriend narrative on the delightful "Blah Blah Blah"). It's not just the lyrics, though, as the music is subtly designed to empower as well, twisting seemingly chirpy instrumentation (listen to that synthesizer go in "Tik Tok") into sonic bulldozers. Even the rare lovelorn ballad ("Hungover") is packed with percussive bravado and vocal force. It's a shame that an album as subtly intelligent and thoughtful as Animal has gone largely dismissed: Ke$ha may be an unrepentant party girl, but for all of her drunken acts, she just may be the most sober person in the pop biz today.
If you haven't listened to Animal yet, you really, really should.