They Say It’s Your Birthday celebrates an artist’s special day with covers of his or her songs. Let someone else do the work for a while. Happy birthday!
Kesha turns 34 today, and she’s certainly been through a lot both personally and professionally since her first big break on Flo Rida’s “Right Round” in 2009. A series of legal battles have been ongoing since 2014, but let’s turn to happier things today. In 2014, Kesha also replaced the $ from her name, marking the end of the Animal/Warrior era and ushering in the new sound of Rainbow and High Road.
Beyond being a performer, she is also a prolific songwriter. She has at least co-writing credits on all of the songs on her first two albums and even some other hits from other artists, like Britney Spears’s “Till the World Ends” and The Veronicas’ “This Love”. Kesha has also been involved in animal rights and LGBTQ+ activism and even makes an appearance in Katy Perry’s “I Kissed A Girl” music video, who knew?
Today we throwback to and celebrate the “good old days,” when we could at least pretend like we’d be up for club-going on a Friday night. Since I unabashedly agree with this defense of “punk goes…” covers, why not mix guilty pleasures: Kesha’s party anthems plus pop-punk (with a dash of screamo… as a treat).
Avril Lavigne – Tik Tok (Kesha cover)
The pop-punk queen herself takes an acoustic approach to Kesha’s debut, record-breaking single (for the most single-week sales for a female artist). Maybe it’s a little less of a good fit for a dance party, but Lavigne still brings the same attitude to the spoken word verses. The bridge takes a subtle turn for gloom (“you build me up, you break me down”), but Lavigne shakes herself out of it by the time she reminds us that the party doesn’t stop until she walks in.
Sharks! – Your Love Is My Drug (Kesha cover)
Canadian pop-punk band Sharks! take on another hit from Kesha’s debut album. They don’t take themselves too seriously, playing and adlibbing along with Kesha’s bubble-gum chat interludes. Yes, there is a small amount of screaming to accompany the choruses, but it doesn’t hog the spotlight.
The Relay Company – We R Who We R (Kesha cover)
The Relay Company was active from the late aughts through the early tens, opening for alternative rock bands like Good Charlotte, Gym Class Heroes, and Smash Mouth (all stars indeed!). Their take on Kesha’s attempt at a pride anthem from her first EP keeps the party vibe with just a little extra edge. Convenient syllable counts and rhymes make their change of “DJ turn it up!” to “Relay turn it up!” fit without causing a huge double-take.
Raising Standards – C’mon (Kesha cover)
I have a soft spot for this song despite it being the first of Kesha’s singles to not reach #1. That just makes an angsty version even more appropriate. This version of “C’mon” is completely re-imagined. If you didn’t have Kesha on the brain, you might not even make the connection right away; it could be the comeback single from your favorite pop-punk band from the 2000s. This version really channels that sense of high-school longing and just begs to be added to the soundtrack of a rom-com with a school setting.
Alteras – Timber (Pitbull featuring Kesha cover)
Technically, this is a Pitbull song, but Kesha co-wrote it and really steals the show, so I’m counting it towards her birthday celebration. If you are like me, when this song came out, it would not leave your head. A bad pun banger? Sign me up! We’re approaching a heavier mix of screaming from this Ohio band, and since they are named after the Spanish word for “change” or “alter” we expect no less.
The Animal in Me – Die Young (Kesha cover)
More screaming ahead! This song was the lead single from Kesha’s second album and had charted well upon its release. It was later removed from the play rotation at many radio stations after the Sandy Hook shooting due to the lyrical content. The Animal in Me’s version definitely emphasizes the darker side of the YOLO lyrics.
If these genres aren’t really your vibe, here’s a bonus “Learn to Let Go” cover minus the angst and screaming.
Don’t forget the incredible cover of Blind by Lydia Loveless