[NOTE: This is an old post from elsewhere that I’ve edited up to repost here; I’ve since stepped back from the Ke$ha fandom because her politics (or rather lack thereof) got in the way of my enjoyment of her music but I was looking through old posts and was delighted by this one. I like the theory.]
Often when asked what type of music I like my answer is “bad” because I’m fairly obsessed with simplistic pop with fat driving beats and little to no harmony. Granted, whenever pop that I am obsessed with contains some level of complexity I celebrate (Lady Gaga comes to mind, as well as harder groups like Panic! At the Disco) but I can be just as easily enticed by a simplistic Rihanna or Calvin Harris dance chart as I can a multi-layered a capella version of “Born this Way” or an amazingly complex Daft Punk Medley.
We call them pop stars, and stars they are. They shine, even if it is with the shame of their fans. One good example for me is Ke$ha. I adore every last sleazy, dirty, shiny little ounce of this woman. She’s offensive to delicate sensibilities, refreshingly naive yet cynical and very, VERY eager to start a revolution based on a hedonistic principle I support. I am ashamed I like this music for many reasons though, not least of which being her problematic racism, ableism, and benevolent transmisogyny.
A short list of reasons that she offends my specifically musical sensibilities: simple (if any) metaphor, cliche or obvious rhyme, ‘rapping’ that makes me want to ignore her till she’s sober and over-auto-tuning what is, in fact, a really lovely mezzo-soprano voice that is probably over-worked and over-killed by alcohol and smoke of various varieties. Harmonies are clearly contrived and ‘added in’ if they exist at all and nearly spastic. No, there is very little to adore, technically, in Ke$ha’s music (despite the fact that she’s a really excellent songwriter, a skill that runs in her family).
But the spirit behind it, the message behind it and, ultimately, the woman herself, excite me to no end. So I put up with the likes of ‘U R A Dinosaur” and “C U Next Tuesday” for the small gems like “Sleazy” and “Cannibal.” And I call myself a fan. An Animal.
For those who don’t know, Ke$ha has a thing for animalism. And Beards. And Alcohol. And Glitter. Glitter is what I’m worrying about here.
A friend asked me recently if the fact that someone listened to Ke$ha made them more awesome. My answer was no, however that the friend listens makes KE$HA more awesome. This, my dear reader, is what I call the ‘transitive property of glitter.’
A pop star’s popularity and ‘glitter factor’ (whatever makes them awesome; Ke$ha’s unapologetic nihilism, Gaga’s violent fashion, Beyoncé’s intense cult of personality, etc.) is directly influenced by the people who listen to them. That person’s power is added to the star’s; they can exert that power. This relationship, however, does not extend the other way.
For example; the fact that I listen to Ke$ha will have one of three effects on someone else: A) their opinion of Ke$ha will rise and/or they will feel a kinship with me B) their opinion of ME will decline and/or they will feel alienated slightly from me C) Absolutely nothing because they don’t care about music.
At no time will my relationship with Ke$ha’s music HURT Ke$ha; however it has quite a bit of potential to HELP her, to give her more glitter, if you will. By, essentially, passing on a bit of my glitter to her, however, it can dim my shine in others’ eyes.
This idea, this “transitive property of glitter” is how celebrity works in general. The more thoroughly one drives oneself into a genre of music (at the exclusion of others) the more likely they are to either dim their own shine in the view of other people, or to help those artists shine brighter.