Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably heard of Ke$ha. If you have, in fact, taken residence inside a slab of granite, Ke$ha is a pop singer well known for her autotuned vocals and hard-drinking party girl image. What many people don’t realize is that Ke$ha is an extremely talented parody artist, and her Deconstructed EP is essentially a middle finger to the detractors who claim otherwise.
The Deconstructed EP takes four of her most popular songs (and one cover) and strips them down to the bare basics. Guitars and pianos replace synths and basses as beautiful, haunting songs are formed from the remnants of the originals.
A track-by-track review can be found below the cut.
1) Old Flames Can’t Hold a Candle to You
Kesha shows her Nashville roots with this Joe Sun cover originally written by her mother, Patricia Rose Sebert. She exposes a surprising vulnerability in the tune as she sings of lost love. While it is more twangy than the rest of the indie-esque album, it’s a beautiful testament to her mother’s writing and is widely regarded to be better than the original, a remarkable feat for a cover.
When I first listened to this song on YouTube, I found a comment that said something along the lines of “it sounds like someone walking through a post-apocalyptic wasteland and stumbling across a deserted nightclub with all the turntables and neon lights covered in cobwebs and smattered with bullet holes.” And that’s exactly what it sounds like. The assertive vocals from the original have been replaced with quiet, haunting vocals that sound both dissonant and perfectly fitting with the lyrics. Pianos rise and fall at precisely the right moment to give you chills. It’s my favorite song on the EP, hands down.
3) The Harold Song
The Harold Song has been, for a long time, my favorite Ke$ha song thanks to its combination of a killer beat with heartbreaking and moving lyrics. The original really was beautiful, and I don’t think it needed to be deconstructed in the first place. But that’s what sets the two apart so much - while the vocals are much cleaner and pristine in the original, the raw emotion can be found in the deconstructed track. She’s not an over-produced machine, she’s human, and she’s experiencing terribly human heartbreak. The somber violins in the background manage to give the track that final push from heartbreaking to downright tearing your heart out and feeding it through a paper shredder.
4) Die Young
An audio post containing this song has been making its way around Tumblr, stunning thousands of bloggers who figured Ke$ha was good for nothing but ironic party songs. It doesn’t have thousands of notes for no reason - like Blow, it slows the fast-paced, party-hard anthem to something strangely endearing and emotional. Unlike Blow, it doesn’t leave the listener upset, it leaves them vaguely happy. It’s no longer a song to get drunk and dance to, it’s a song to listen to and smile. You can practically hear Kesha smile and chuckle through the vocals, and it’s an infectious attitude.
I’m not sure what to say about this song, really. It’s definitely one of the most beautiful songs I’ve heard about either banging ghosts or banging someone who likes ghost metaphors. The drums create a haunting and ethereal vibe that seems perfect for the song. On the other hand, it gets fairly repetitive towards the end and the instrumentals can be few and far in between, jarring when they do appear. It’s not take-it-or-leave-it so much as take-parts-of-the-song-and-leave-the-others.
Overall, it’s an impressively solid album. While the songs can sound similar, the quality is incredible and surprising to many people unaware of Ke$ha’s true vocal prowess. I give it four out of five stars.