On The Download: Ke$ha’s ‘Cannibal’

Ke$ha is quite literally everywhere right now, and while she certainly has her critics, I couldn’t be more pleased by her recent play for world domination. Taking yet another page from the Lady Gaga marketing strategy handbook, on November 22, pop star Ke$ha is releasing a companion album to her 2010 debut album, “Animal,” aptly titled “Cannibal” (what else?).

“Cannibal’s lead single, “We R Who We R,” debuted at No. 1 last week on Billboard’s Hot 100 charts – only the second song to accomplish the feat this year (and the 17th song ever to achieve this). Ke$ha won Best New Artist at the MTV European Video Music Awards last weekend. And to top it all off, she just announced that she’s hitting the road this winter – Ke$ha will launch her first headlining tour (The Get $leazy Tour) on February 15 in Portland, and she’ll stay on the road through early May.

Ke$ha works with great producers on this album (Dr. Luke and Max Martin) who are experts at capturing the zeitgeist of popular sound. Additionally, she is listed as a co-writer on every track. More so on “Cannibal” than on “Animal,” Ke$ha pushes forward with the white girl crunk sound which she dabbled on in tracks such as “Blah Blah Blah” from her first release. This new album has what can only be described as… some seriously sick beats.

Just about every one of the eight new tracks on this album is radio-ready. “Sleazy” is the best example on “Cannibal” of Ke$ha doing what she does best — she sings, “I don’t need you or your brand new Benz, or your boujee friends…” in an utterly hookable refrain. “Blow” is a similar-sounding example of a radio-ready club track, which should do extremely well on the charts. The beats on both tracks incorporate an element of tribal club music that is that previously-described sound of the moment (note: Gaga, upcoming release from The Black Eyed Peas… and anything else touched by David Guetta).

Ke$ha takes it down a notch on the anthemic “The Harold Song,” an Avril Lavigne-sounding ode to young love, which could also impact big. The only thing about Ke$ha which grates on me a bit, is when she slips into her trademark talk/rap mode (ie: “Tik Tok”), which shows up again on the “Cannibal” tracks “Crazy Beautiful Life” and “Grow A Pear.” And if you think Britney stirred up a bit of song title controversy a couple of years ago with “If U Seek Amy,” Ke$ha completely “goes there” with a down-tempo track blatantly titled, “c u next tuesday” – use your interpretive sleuth skills here.

With Ke$ha’s latest release, the “companion album” format has no doubt become more than just a trend – it’s an all out industry phenomenon for the struggling music business. “Re-releasing” an album with 8 - 10 all new tracks has been utilized successfully in the past year alone by Lady Gaga (“The Fame” / “The Fame Monster”) and Usher (“Raymond Vs. Raymond” / “Versus”). In 2008, Coldplay (sort of) kicked off the trend with their “Prospekt’s March” EP, a follow up of additional tracks to their smash album “Viva La Vida.”

Moreover, artists including Maxwell (“Blacksummersnight” series) and Robyn (“Body Talk” series) have chosen in the past two years to release album trilogies – each containing eight or so tracks – rather than a single collection of songs. These new release patterns are only going to expand as the music industry continues to struggle to find any means of making money from recordings in the digital music era.

“Cannibal” is, without a doubt, equally as strong of an album as “Animal,” and it should keep Ke$ha on our pop culture radar well throughout all of 2011. If you enjoyed any of this Nashville native’s first four radio charting singles, you’re going to be pleasantly surprised with this late year supplement to her rapidly-emerging catalog.

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