Feature: Ke$ha

By Columbus Alive
From the Feature: Ke$ha edition

"I plan on being a huge influence in society."

Ke$ha isn't shy about her ambition. Actually, she isn't shy about much of anything. Ever since the debauchery anthem "Tik Tok" hit No. 1 in those innocent days of 2009, the Nashville-bred pop star has been among the music industry's least inhibited lightning rods.

"I just feel like I act more animal than maybe necessarily we've been conditioned to act like and I don't necessarily subscribe to being PC and PG-rated all the time," Ke$ha said by phone from a tour stop in Dublin, Ireland.

"You'll see that in my live show. I just kind of do whatever my instincts tell me to do."

The show in question comes to the Ohio State Fair this Thursday. There she'll sing and rap in her matter-of-fact inflection about topics ranging from beard-inspired love addiction to being who you "R" to the curious (and ineffective) hygienic habit of brushing teeth with Tennessee whiskey.

Ke$ha's crass, unfiltered lyrics are proof that despite the talented people in her corner - her mother is a professional songwriter, and she's been working with hit-making producer extraordinaire Dr. Luke since 2005 - her personal stamp is emphatically on this music.

"I write my songs as if I was having a conversation with one of my closest friends," Ke$ha said. "I'm very raw and honest. I take some experience from last night and just write exactly how it went. I won't change names, and I won't mince words."

Born Kesha Rose Sebert to single mom Pebe Sebert in Los Angeles, Ke$ha relocated to her mother's native Nashville at age 4. She grew up to be an ace student and a marching band saxophonist, but she dropped out of school at age 17 to sign with Dr. Luke's after he heard her brash demo recordings.

Dr. Luke got busy with other projects once his work on Kelly Clarkson's "Breakaway" made him one of pop's most in-demand producers. So Ke$ha bounced around the music industry for a few years, waiting tables on the side and taking whatever work she could get as a singer, dancer and songwriter.

Success didn't strike until 2009, when she stopped by Dr. Luke's studio and ended up singing the hook to Flo Rida's No. 1 smash "Right Round." She wasn't paid or credited and opted not to appear in the video, but it was enough to jumpstart her career. From then it was a matter of months before her magnetic, unapologetically sleazy approach made her a star.

Of course, flaunting such a polarizing persona inspires detractors. Ke$ha said she just wants to pump the positivity and ignore those who don't take her seriously.

"All I can do is play my shows and be as fascinating and entertaining and positive as possible, and the world will just see my message, and either you like it or you don't," Ke$ha said. "People that want to hate will hate."