Kesha Rose Sebert (born March 1, 1987), better known by the mononym Kesha (stylized Ke$ha), is an American pop singer, rapper and songwriter. At age eighteen, Kesha was signed to Dr. Luke's record label and publishing company. Although an active musician since 2005, singing background vocals and writing songs for other artists, her breakthrough only came in early 2009 after appearing on Flo Rida's number one single, "Right Round." Her debut single, "Tik Tok", released in late 2009, reached number one in eleven countries. Her debut album, Animal, was released in January 2010 and debuted at number one in the US. By September, Kesha had sold two million albums worldwide.
Kesha was born in Los Angeles, California, to Pebe Sebert, a singer and songwriter. Pebe, a single mother, struggled financially while supporting Kesha and her older brother, Lagan, at the time. They had to rely on welfare payments and food stamps to get by. When Kesha was an infant, Pebe would often have to look after her onstage while performing. Kesha grew up without her father and does not know who he is. Pebe moved the family to Nashville, Tennessee, in 1991, after securing a publishing deal. She frequently brought Kesha and her brothers, Lagan and Louis, along to recording studios and encouraged Kesha to sing. Pebe also taught Kesha how to write songs and they would often write together when she returned home from school.
The Seberts were featured in an episode of The Simple Life, as the host family to Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie in 2004. Kesha described herself in an interview as being "very studious" in high school; she would drive to Belmont University to listen in on Cold War history classes after school and achieved "near perfect" SAT scores. However, she dropped out of Brentwood High at age seventeen and earned her GED afterward. She left school after being convinced by Dr. Luke and Max Martin to return to Los Angeles to pursue a music career. They had received Kesha's demo after Pebe passed it to Samantha Cox, senior director of writer/publisher relations at BMI, and were impressed.
Kesha has cited Beck, Queen, Madonna, Johnny Cash, Aaron Neville, Bob Dylan, Beastie Boys, The Damned, Velvet Underground, Talking Heads and Blondie as musical influences. She has also highlighted Dylan's Nashville Skyline as her favorite album and called her debut album, Animal, an homage to the Beastie Boys' Licensed to Ill. She has writing credits on every track on the album and defended her decision to make pop music in an interview, explaining that, "[p]eople get so pretentious about pop music so I do feel like I'm fighting this battle. My record is honest and fun. It's a celebration of youth and life and going out and getting crazy. I'm about non-pretentious irreverence and fuck off good fun!"
Kesha credits the album as having a rock edge, with straightforward lyrics based on her life experiences and influenced by the storytelling style of country music. She has urged critics not to take her lyrics seriously; such as in "Tik Tok", where she has been criticized for referencing brushing her teeth with a bottle of Jack Daniel's whiskey. She explained that, "Everyone's really offended by that. But come on, brushing your teeth with Jack Daniel's: what girl does that? People are like, 'Do you really advocate brushing your teeth with bourbon?' I'm like, 'Yes, actually, I do, every day, for everybody. Especially eight year olds.' I mean, what are you talking about? Of course I don't. Come on." Kesha has also expressed frustration at the double standard for the objectification of women in music. Thus, in songs such as "Blah Blah Blah" and "Boots and Boys", she makes it a point to sing the same way men traditionally sing about women.
Animal is of the dance-pop genre; it incorporates elements of electropop in its production. It ranges from high energy pop dance tracks, to electronic ballads, to songs with guitar riffs. When it came to her ballads, Kesha stated that they "[would] still have that four-on-the-floor to keep the heads moving." She also regards the need for her live shows to be "rowdy and really fun, and hopefully dance-inducing."