Blow [Cannibal] [Dir. Chris Marrs Piliero]
If “TiK ToK” was her “Just Dance” and “My Love Is Your Drug” was her “Paparazzi”, I was almost certain that the video for “Blow” would at least be her “video for ‘Bad Romance’”. It similarly rips off a couple layers of veneer to show off who she really ‘is’ as an artist, or at least how she might prefer to be viewed. Which is: self-effacing and funny and charismatic and self-effacing. And, well, only at a certain level in the social stratosphere can you be disappointed in 32 million views, but alas. (If you’re keeping count, that’s 1/14th the number for Gaga… and ten million less than Jessie J’s latest single.) If you’re not one of rare 32 mil, you should watch it, because James Van Der Beek, you see.
Maybe if the song were better. “Blow” wasn’t a good choice for a single… well, it was, because it was a Top 10 hit, obviously, but it wasn’t wise; like Animal's title track and “Party at a Rich Dude’s House” before it, Cannibal has multiple tracks that could’ve been equally huge (namely “Sleazy” and “The Harold Song” and maybe even “Cannibal”) that wouldn’t have also been superfluous. “Blow” is a sequel to “Take It Off”, and while it’s a perfectly serviceable track, it adds nothing to the Public At Large’s knowledge of her game.
“Blow” is about neither of the two debauched things associated with the word “blow,” and I certainly appreciate it for that. As Bogart said: “For someone so ostensibly associated with decadence, you’d think she might be tempted to work a fellatio or cocaine pun into the title, but no, this song is pure action-movie and she sticks to the script, every explosion in place.” Again, this is mythology, not real life. The Club will always be the setting: anything that has happened happened there, anything that will happen will happen there. Including anything resembling an action thriller. This is a song built on anticipation – this place about to, over and over again – until we reach a fairly subdued climax, in which this place does, apparently, blow (though she still says about). That moment – THIS PLACE ABOUT TO! – is a highlight, that one moment of rawk spontaneity where the autotune cuts out and she lets loose. The middle eight is pretty great too.
And because that’s all I have to say about that, I’ll use this space to mention something that hasn’t really come up organically and probably won’t: glitter. It’s the most popular symbol in the Ke$haverse, but it shows up in surprisingly few songs. Since its emergence as a motif, it’s saturated pop a bit, serving as an easy go-to when a songwriter needs to communicate “hot mess”. It’s an easy mark of hedonism, a clear sign that the be-glittered individual just spent the night ignoring everything that’s wrong with their life/world and transcended to a place of excitement and newness and probably vandalism. The thing we need to remember is that glitter is just sparkly dirt. If you’re going to seize the night, you’re going to end up dirty; that glitter shines with camp beauty just plays to the animal’s willingness to consider dirt beautiful, natural, necessary for proper living. And a fear of getting dirty is the worst fear an animal can suffer. To willingly apply glitter to your skin before the night even begins? You might be doing something right. Best of all, it’s a brand – Ke$ha is the dance commander, and she wants to cover her subjects with it more than she wants to cover herself, because she knows what living means and she’ll force you to understand it if she has to. In interviews, she’s said that she loves beards because after you make out with a bearded guy, the glitter sticks to it for days. She wants you marked and she wants you to be embarrassed at work the next day. That trickster.