The first time I had one of those “I’m an old man who just doesn’t understand kids these days” moments came courtesy of Ke$ha.
She was playing SNL; I was one of about eight people in the entire universe who hadn’t heard “Tik Tok” at this point. Needless to say, the astronaut-flanked, auto-tuned-to-the-max, stars-and-stripes-cape adorned sorta-hottie on the stage didn’t exactly wow me. I was confused, a little pissed, even, but not awestruck.
Even as nothing more than a mainstream pop tune, this was shit. Throw “Tik Tok” up against something like “Bad Romance” and you quickly surmise that the girl with the dollar sign in her name is nothing but a broke-ass poseur compared to the relative sophistication of Lady G.
So you can imagine my knee-jerk repulsion when I heard that Ke$ha was covering Bob Dylan.
And you can’t imagine how much I liked the rendition of “Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right,” found below. (This is part of an Amnesty International anniversary tribute collection honoring Dylan.)
No auto-tune. No lame club beats. No grating synths. Just a young woman pouring emotion into a song by someone she respects. Some cool strings, too.
This melancholy version doesn’t match the whimsy of Dylan, but that’s just another reason why I like Ke$ha’s cover. It’s all so unexpected, from the tone she takes to the fact that underneath the auto-tune and stupid party-girl facade there’s an appealing, authentic voice and something resembling an artistic vision. Or at least an idea of how to sound somewhat authentic.
Is it simply good source material that makes it work? Is it nothing more than extremely lowered expectations that leave me impressed, that this really isn’t any better than something you’d hear at any weeknight karaoke session?
Is this one song the music equivalent of Marlon Wayans’ performance in Requiem for a Dream, an absolute one-off of brilliance amid a filmography of Scary Movies and White Chicks?
I’m not counting on Ke$ha completely turning over a new leaf, dropping the idiotic persona in favor of more fulfilling artistry–pulling a Clooney, so to speak. You know, doing some mainstream, money-making gigs in order to do whatever the fuck I want to do (and usually do it well) for the rest of my life.
If nothing else, we’ve got this song to consider. And perhaps she will change.
Let’s hope so…and the sooner, the better. Clock’s ticking…