The day after Christmas, I discovered Ke$ha’s “TiK ToK.” I listened to the tune once. Then again. And again and again. Then I finally set my iTunes on “Repeat One” and listened to nothing else for a few hours. With lyrics like “Before I leave, I brush my teeth with a bottle of Jack” and “Now the dudes are lining up ’cause they hear we got swagger / But we kick ’em to the curb unless they look like Mick Jagger,” I easily identified with Ke$ha’s teenage angst. So did all of America, apparently. Pop poetess Ke$ha has emerged in 2009’s eleventh hour as a very viable threat to Lady Gaga. But alas, some pop songs were built–by geniuses no less–to be broken down and picked apart. Before this year, you actually heard “TiK ToK”–or at least its signature riff–in a Kylie Minogue stomper that bowed earlier this century.
A problem with having a job where you’re expected to scrutinize pop music is that most of your colleagues have similar tasks. So between both of you, a pop song’s allure can be demystified in sheer seconds, leaving nothing but a carcass of lazy rhymes and sloppy electronic blips behind. After a discussion with Interview‘s Colleen Nika, I learned that Ke$ha, that no good tart, basically ripped off Minogue’s “Love At First Sight.” We drew the conclusion that Ke$ha copped that song’s signature synth riff. More problematic, Team Ke$ha did a pretty lousy job covering up the theft. We weren’t alone in unearthing this stark similarity, however.
Sure, Minogue didn’t employ the sound of Super Mario jumping over a koopa shell as a dance beat. And whereas “TiK ToK” is a song about promiscuity, “Love At First Sight” is about monogamous happily ever afters. But differences end there. Because once you identify “TiK ToK”‘s riff as an almost beat-for-beat carbon copy of “Love”‘s driving force, it kind of takes the punch out of Ke$ha and a song so charmingly ridiculous in its ability to summit the American charts. Both songs are featherweight without their shared riff.
But is this the end of the world? Nah, Plagiarism is part of pop music’s circle of life. It does, however, dampen an otherwise intelligently indulgent dance tune. And number Ke$ha’s days in pop. Because seriously, how do you top “TiK ToK”?