Though Kesha’s Auto-Tune-drenched club hits earned her a reputation as a party girl, there were hints of a more introspective artist at the heart of tracks like “Dancing with Tears in My Eyes” and “Animal,” both from her 2010 debut, Animal. Her record label’s decision not to release even a midtempo cut as a single from the album was a missed opportunity to not only deepen Kesha’s image, but broaden her fanbase and ensure the kind of longevity that many of her more humanized pop contemporaries have enjoyed.
Dr. Luke (#1–10 of 5)
Just two months after her lawsuit against producer Dr. Luke, a.k.a. Lukasz Gottwald, for allegedly drugging, raping, and verbally abusing her was tossed out by a New York judge, barring the singer from recording outside the parameters of her contract with the Swedish super-producer, Kesha is already releasing new music. But don’t call it a loophole. Russian DJ Zedd took to Twitter to explain that Dr. Luke’s label, to which the “Fuck Him He’s a DJ” singer is signed, had given their blessing for the release.
Jennifer Lopez’s new single, “Ain’t Your Mama,” is already getting headlines—but not for the reasons she might have hoped for. The track, which reunites J. Lo with longtime record label Epic, was co-written by newly anointed Best New Artist Grammy winner Meghan Trainor…and produced by recently accused rapist Lukasz Gottwald, a.k.a. Dr. Luke. The song’s subtle reggae groove recalls that of Lopez’s slept-on 2011 single “I’m Into You,” but “Ain’t Your Mama” is likely to have longer legs, what with its instantly memorable hook and the singer’s debut performance of the song tonight on the series finale of American Idol, on which she serves as a judge.
While the world waits for Lady Gaga’s “Applause,” pop music fans will have to settle for the sound of fellow pop princess Katy Perry’s “Roar,” the lead single from Prism, the singer’s first album in over three years. The album reportedly marks an image shift for the Meow fragrance creator, who recently said goodbye to her “California Gurls” persona in a series of teasers. Produced by Dr. Luke and Max Martin, the team behind most of Perry’s past hits, the song itself is ultimately less of a departure than the new offerings on last year’s “Complete Confection” edition of Teenage Dream. “Roar,” which references Survivor’s 1982 hit “Eye of the Tiger” in its rather benign lyrics, leans more toward rock than Perry’s past hits, but it’s still got an unmistakable bubble-gum pop center. It’s more of a yelp than a roar.
After a slight detour into Eurotrash for 2011’s Femme Fatale and faux-English accents on will.i.am’s “Scream & Shout,” Britney Spears returns to her roots on the Dr. Luke-produced “Ooh La La,” from one of the most hotly anticipated sequels of the year, The Smurfs 2. Another infuriatingly catchy trifle from the superstar pop tart, the “Smurftastic” (her words) single juxtaposes a hard, stomping beat and a brief, quasi-rapped b-section with a sugary, wafer-thin hook backed by acoustic guitars. The lyrics are, of course, completely nonsensical (“Baby come with me and be my ooh la la”), but they’ll no doubt be burned into your brain by the end of the summer. The soundtrack, which also features “I’m Too Smurfy” by Right Said Fred, is out July 23rd.