Animation · Music · Trivia

Ke$ha or Jojo, who is more subversive?

Kesha Rose Sebert (left), Jojo Tickles (Right)

I am fascinated by the branding on Ke$ha. The team of public relation reps, agents, and musical engineers have done a remarkable job at giving this marginally talented American princess a pop music career. Usually a team like that works under the Disney umbrella. (More on that later.) What intrigues the most is the vast disconnect between her lyrics and her music videos. The lyrics are the ramblings and warbling of a partying, drunken sorority girl , looking for a good-looking, rich guy to hook up with (although the last time anyone considered Mick Jagger good-looking was probably two decades before Ke$ha was born). The lyrics would most definitely be rated “R”, if it was judged by the MPAA. However, much to my initial chagrin, the videos for sed lyrics would only garner a “PG” rating. Why are the directors playing it safe? Are they afraid of the videos being banned by … um … uh … what station still plays music videos anymore … does anyone, oh yeah, I know … being banned from Mnet?! It’s certainly not anything that Madonna, Stefani Germanotta,or Brittney Spears would do. She is a third-rate derivative of all of these women, but where does she fit? Is she a Paris Hilton without the money? Is she a Miley Cyrus without the talent? What could be the source of the dissonance that is her act?

Jojo’s Circus is a claymation show aimed for preschoolers that aired 64 episodes on the Disney Channel from 2003 to 2007. The show’s star is Jojo, the daughter of two clown parents, and is a clown herself. The show featured a lot of original music, compared to other shows in this genre. The songs were the keystone to most episodes, as it summed up the theme or moral of the story. On the surface, the songs are not very different from any other children’s songs – straight forward and short. However, certain songs can be re-interpreted in a more sinister fashion, if you know what I mean. Just like H.R. Pufnstuf, or Puff the Magic Dragon. Part of the speculation is due to  Jojo’s co-creator, Jim Jinkins. Jim is known as the creator of “Doug”, a 90’s cartoon which occasionally featured music that could be described as “punk-inspired.” It also should be noted that the voice of Jojo later went on to star on Showtime’s “Californication,” so perhaps David Duchovny and the gang perhaps noticed the same thing too.

For point of comparison, I submit to you – “The Streets of Cairo.” You’ve heard this public domain song all over the place hundreds of times. (Trust me, you have. Think of any time you’ve seen a snake charmer, belly dancer, or anything associated with ancient Egypt.)  This song was the obvious inspiration for both Ke$ha’s “Take it off,” and Jojo’s “Snake Dance.” (And please, anyone with mixing skills, please do a mash-up of these songs, and post it online.) And both songs follow the spirit of the original: the insinuation that something risqué is underneath the surface. Streets was used as a belly dancing song back in the late 19th / early 20th Century. Ke$ha has to ruin my point by being blatantly obvious, but Jojo makes up for it in spades. Here are the opening lyrics to Snake Dance:

If you kneel right down /  with your knees right on the ground. / Pull your arms in close to you.

Yes, it’s funny to interpret these songs out of context. But when you have a song called “Lean, Bob, Flap,” you’re just begging to be overanalyzed. Jojo spoke more innuendos by 6:30AM than most people speak all day. And that brazen behavior could easily encourage the feeble and simple-minded. Someone like… Selena Gomez. Just kidding Selena…. Slightly. But seriously, fear the clown.

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