This post is, in part, about Kesha (but please keep reading even if you think her music is the worst thing that’s ever happened to planet earth… you may be surprised).
I’ve always prided myself, more or less, on being an objective person (which shows just how subjective I am). But when I hear new music, I try to focus on the song itself, and not on what I might already think of the artist (note: I’m using the term “artist” to generally mean a musician, especially one still making music today). I make an effort to judge every song on its own, regardless of what I think of the other songs I’ve heard from this person or group. Even if every song I’ve ever heard from this artist has had horrible lyrics or an awful sound to it, every new song I happen to hear deserves a chance.
But I’ve pretty much allowed myself to make an exception with Kesha (Or should I say Ke$ha? I’m not even sure if I owe her that respect…). I’ve heard a number of her songs, and I can sincerely say that whenever I hear them, I feel them grating against me like cat claws on a blackboard. The messages I hear through her songs generally inspire a disgust in me that apparently only her music can. The talking/rapping/not-sure-what-to-call-it style that is her trademark is somewhat annoying. The atmosphere her songs project is what I would call (to put it mildly) trashy, tasteless and overly negative. The tunes are usually catchy, and the beats sound cool. But I find that the songs only sound so good as to make the overall effect worse. It’s like giving mosquitoes dragonfly wings; they’re still a problem and a nuisance, and now they’re even harder to get away from.
That’s pretty much what I’ve always thought of Ke$ha. I try to form a separate opinion for each song I hear, but as I experience more music from one artist, it builds up into an overall picture of what I think of the artist. And in Kesha’s case, the picture wasn’t looking so pleasant. Each new song just made the grating worse, and to be blunt, I started hating her music.
But a while back, I happened to hear a song I had never heard before. I liked how it sounded; not just its particular elements, but the upbeat, positive vibe exuding from the whole song. When I found out it was by Kesha, at first I refused to believe it. It didn’t sound anything like the other songs by her that I had come to know and despise. But it was her song, and I liked it. I still don’t think I’d agree with the message entirely, but it definitely was not, if I may say so, the garbage I had come to expect.
You may disagree, but here’s the song:
I’m not saying that I approve of everything that Kesha is doing, that I like all her music now, that this song doesn’t still have elements that I would disagree with. But I think this song has reined me in and reminded me to practice what I preach. Had I known this song was by her before hearing it, I probably would’ve hated it just because it was by Ke$ha. It wouldn’t have been an entirely unjustified reaction, but still an unreasonable one.
No one song can give you the whole picture about any given artist, either ideologically or musically. Sometimes artists change, sometimes they turn out a piece that’s radically different than what they’re known for. Sometimes they just might have a wide range of expression, and thus use a wide variety of songs to get their message across. Whatever the case, you can’t just look at one song you particularly love or hate and jump straight to how you feel about the artist as a whole.
Obviously, you can’t wait until you know every single song a particular artist has produced before deciding whether you like his or her music or not. There are too many artists, too many albums, too many songs to know them all (unless you’re really that
obsessed dedicated). I don’t recommend searching out all the songs of a seemingly bad artist just to give him/her “a second chance” either. But passing a judgment on a music artist based on only one song is as foolish as passing a judgment on an entire house based on only one room; it only shows part of the picture. And keep in mind that your view of the house will always be getting bigger too, as you explore more rooms or as the artist makes more.
I doubt this means you’ll suddenly start hating all the artists you once loved and loving all the artists you once abhorred (in fact, I hope it doesn’t). But it might put a new perspective on things, one that is more balanced than before.
So keep an open mind. Judge the body of work before you judge the artist. Look at as much of the house as is visible to you. And give each new room a chance.