"I thought, well, some people maybe don't wanna potentially put themselves in an illegal situation, potentially get arrested. Or don't wanna make out with roadies."
Ke$ha, international pop star and occasional Nashvillian — those occasions being the rare moments of rest in the otherwise insane schedule of an international pop star — is on the phone from Belfast, Northern Ireland. She's in the midst of a summer-long tour that's taken her all across Europe before jumping the pond to finish out the season, running across North America and maintaining the kind of pace, travel and work schedule that would crush a normal human being.
There's a hesitation in her voice that may be due to the transcontinental nature of our conference call — or maybe it's the result of talking to an endless stream of knucklehead journalists in 15-minute bursts for days at a stretch. But she perks up, her voice brightens and the fog of a long workday clears when she starts talking about her involvement with local volunteer organization Hands On Nashville, with whom she partnered to give away tickets to her upcoming Municipal Auditorium show.
"[The fans] can just help out instead and get a free ticket," says Ke$ha.
It flies in the face of her bad-girl image — volunteerism is rarely at the top of the wild-child checklist — but reflects a genuine concern and affection for the fans who have gotten her where she is today. For all of the critical derision that's gone down since "Tik Tok" first hit the airwaves, and for all of the hand-wringing that's come from the chattering classes over Ke$ha's mere existence — see Vanity Fair's recent "OMG, she's heard of post-modernism!" blog post — she's not the glitter-crusted fifth horseman of the Apocalypse, or even just another vapid party girl.
Even from a brief conversation, it's easy to tell that Ke$ha is the consummate professional, working long hours and grueling days so that we — the listeners and fans — can party like there's no tomorrow whenever we pop in her albums or plunk down the cash for a ticket. It's the hard-workin'/hard-partyin' dichotomy that gets lost in the tabloid shuffle, with the former being ignored because the latter makes for better click-bait on gossip blogs, more scandalous headlines and self-righteous pseudo-shock for online editorials. Her public persona doesn't really leave room for the undeniable fact that this woman works her damn ass off.
Not that she doesn't have a few little hell-raising notches on her metaphorical bedpost — her pre-fame, pre-career, pre-pop-star Brentwood existence was pretty much par for the course as far as teenage shenanigans go.
"I hung out with a few people from high school, but for the most part we would always drive downtown," says Ke$ha. "We would go to the Exit/In and try to sneak into shows, or we would go run around Centennial Park and climb up into the trees, or we would sneak into the [strictly 21-plus] Springwater and try to drink beers, or we would try to crash frat parties. ... We also threw a bunch of parties at the Motel 8. We threw hotel parties and got kicked out."
It's pretty normal stuff, frankly, and that's a big part of the appeal. Contrary to what the moral arbiters in the LifeWay tower and the Tennessean's comment section might say, the girl next door is not sitting at home in a knee-length skirt and a sensible blouse reading her Bible on a Saturday night. In reality, the girl next door likes to get dressed up, likes to get loose after work and likes to get a little (or a lot) drunk. The girl next door has that most typical of human traits (a sex drive) and her own opinions, and she isn't going to apologize for them. Much to the horror of conservative parents everywhere, this is the new normal.
The reason so many people can relate to songs like "We R Who We R," "Take It Off" and "Blow" isn't because it's a pop star singing from an elevated or privileged position. These songs aren't about trickle-down glamour-nomics, but rather the daydreams and web memes that make a workweek bearable — the sort of fantasies that keep you from losing your mind after a long day of talking to total strangers about total bullshit. These are service-class anthems — proletarian pop for the American post-manufacturing/pre-robot takeover era.
As we wrap up our conversation — touching on such epic topics as dry cleaning, all-ages rock venues in Brentwood and her non-beef Twitter beef with The Black Keys' Patrick Carney ("I was at his house, and he was Twittering me from across the table") — there's a pang of jealousy in the author's heart. Somewhere on the other side of the world, there are thousands of people about to get the payoff for all of their hard work and all of her hard work — they're done with their workday, and they get to tap into those daydreams, to revel in the release of being one's self.
And they didn't even have to make out with a roadie.
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