In the wake of the horrific shooting in Connecticut, one of the least important things to come of it is the influence on the radio airplay of certain songs. Like other events in recent history, including 9/11, radio stations will often take it upon themselves to avoid airing certain songs that may evoke a negative reaction during a sensitive time. (While the school shooting is a topic worth discussing and will hopefully be addressed many times in the near future as gun control and other issues get re-evaluated in hopes of avoiding this type of terrible event as much as possible, it’s not what I’ll be discussing in here. Not due to its lack of importance but instead my own lack of knowledge on the topics related to the event, but my thoughts have been and are still with the victims since I first heard about it.)
The single cover for Die Young by Ke$ha
Of the songs that have been affected by radio’s self-imposed boycott, the latest hit by Ke$ha is the one to have been impacted the most. The song’s title is Die Young, one which is understandably something that can seem insensitive during this particular time. Last week, it was the most played song on Pop radio in the United States while this week, it has so far dropped to #3 after losing nearly 1/4 of its total airplay. While that in itself is a pretty big decrease, it makes sense. The comments that followed from Ke$ha on her twitter, however, don’t really.
She did apologize that her song contained lyrics that were insensitive during this particular time and she later tweeted that she didn’t agree with them and was essentially “forced to” sing the lyrics. Ke$ha, who has a co-writing credit on the song with Nate Ruess of fun. and Dr. Luke, who also co-produced it, praised the song when it first came out giving the indication that she was in control of the message she intended the song to show which was celebrating life and living life to the fullest. So Ke$ha was either lying before when she seemed proud of the song that had her name all over it, essentially admitting that she’s a puppet of the industry by being “forced to” sing lyrics she doesn’t want to sing, or she’s trying to distance herself from what she wrote by throwing everyone else under the bus. In either case, it doesn’t look good for her.
This situation reminds me of the ever-classic “that wasn’t the real me” scenario that so many pop stars have used when referring to their first albums. Christina Aguilera, in particular, has said that about her first album, especially during the early days of Stripped in 2002/03. Stripped was a huge departure from the bubblegum-pop sound of her first album and when asked about it, Christina had said that album wasn’t the real her and was instead the work of her producers and record label who were essentially making her out to be a pop star a la Britney Spears.
Are these claims true? Likely. But in my opinion, it doesn’t help the image or credibility of someone who can’t own their own work, even if they wouldn’t do it again. A person, no matter who in any creative career, who does something only to try to distance themselves from it at a later time to save face seem cheap. Instead of saying “I’ve grown since then” or “I’m proud of what I did but this time I’m trying something completely different”, they say “that wasn’t the real me.” Well, how do we know this is?