2010: The Year In Pop Music

By DANIEL BROCKMAN  |  December 21, 2010

Seen by most who get paid to spout about such things as either a useless tweeny diva or, worse, a trashy example of Everything That's Wrong With Modern Culture, Ke$ha is in reality a ruthlessly calculating change agent, communicating to the young and the young at heart that being poor and trashy is not only acceptable but a perfectly respectable way to maintain some dignity in this age of conspicuous wastefulness. Where other divas brag of bling and rings, Ms. K., with whiskey in her water bottle, gets her posse together to party in thrift mode at the rich kid's house. Armed with a flaskful of top-notch Dr. Luke bangers, her two albums this year (January's Animal and November's Cannibal, both RCA) draw an us-vs.-them line in the sand that though lacking the overt political agitprop rhetoric of M.I.A. still smuggles in amid the sleaze a Trojan Horse belief in radical class-warfare solidarity.

"Tik Tok," 2010's top-selling top-charting single, took a swig of Jack for courage and blew a fireball of class-warfare 'tude that translated effortlessly into the language of pure pop. Screw the rich, be yourself, fall in love, have some dignity, be who you want to be — these are the sorts of fantasy platitudes that (a) we as Americans have been pumping ourselves full of since time immemorial and (b) our entire rock-and-roll lexicon has been built on for the past 60-plus years. If you walked into 2010 praying that LADY GAGA would be the last word on crazily ambitious mid-20s chicks rewriting the pop/rock playbook, #1 hit by #1 hit, here's hoping that 2011 will be just as disappointing for you.

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