Skip to main content

Kesha Is Upset Because People Think She Can't Sing

As the parent of two teens who love to go to concerts, I've had to figure out how to increase the odds of scoring tickets on Ticketmaster.

Can Ke$ha Sing Without Autotune?

It's common knowledge Ke$ha can't sing. A blog post that listed the vocal ranges of ten major female pop stars went so far as to list Ke$ha's vocal range as LOL (laughing out loud). But common knowledge in this case is wrong. And Ke$ha is upset about it:

"I got really sick of people saying that I couldn't sing, because I can do very few things confidently in my life, and one of them is that I can sing."

To prove herself, she did more singing on her 2nd album, Warrior.

"I remember thinking, 'Oh, it's just processed. People will learn that I can sing later.' But after reading some reviews that were like, 'She can't sing,' I finally was like, 'F**k that.'"

Ke$ha Singing Without Autotune

Ke$ha's Singing Voice

But it's not surprising many people think Ke$ha can't sing. Her single releases are filled with techno music and electronically altered voices. Everyone naturally assumes the altering is used to cover up a lack of vocal ability rather than an effect that makes dance and club music more fun.

The problem is, once you get that bad reputation, it's very hard to convince people otherwise. It also doesn't help that Ke$ha has had some high-profile bad performances, such as C'mon on the X Factor. But most critics who reviewed her Get Sleazy tour praised her vocal skills. Stephan Lee from Entertainment Weekly said:

"Judging from some less-than-stellar TV performances, my expectations were low, but for what it’s worth, Ke$ha sounded at least as good live as she does on her recorded tracks."

The best example of her real voice is a demo she made of a song written with her mother Pebe Sebert called "Goodbye." The song was written in 2000 and recorded when Ke$ha was 15 years old. Another good example is the country-rock ballad "Sunday Morning." You'll find more examples are on an acoustic EP titled Deconstructed.

A good live example of her singing skills is a guest appearance with the group Ben Folds Five, where she sang a duet with Wayne Coyne of the Flaming Lips. She and Coyne performed a duet of the song "You're the Reason Our Kids Are Ugly" by Conway Twitty and Loretta Lynn. Rolling Stone magazine said about Ke$ha's performance with Coyne that she can "really sing – belting out pitch-perfect, glass-shattering notes." Two other great live performances are "Love Into the Light" at the 2013 NewNowNext Awards and her live debut of her folk-pop track "Last Goodbye."

Ke$ha, Wayne Coyne, and Ben Folds Five Live in Nashville

Misconceptions About Ke$ha

"White trash"? Many people think Kesha Rose Sebert is "white trash." Her family sometimes depended on welfare and food stamps. She doesn't know who her father is. But she's also very smart and had almost-perfect SAT scores.

She played saxophone in her high school's marching band. She actually attended one of the best high schools in Tennessee and was an International Baccalaureate (IB) student. Even as a high school student, she took classes at a local college on Cold War history "just for fun." According to a recent article in Vibe magazine, she spent "her summers studying comparative religion in a gifted teen program at...Columbia University." Her school pictures reveal a slightly chubby, nerdy-looking, reddish-brown-haired kid. A video of her singing at a school talent show also shows a seemingly shy teenager. She won the prestigious Wyler Award for her animal rights activism.

"Drinker and drugger"? Many people think she's a heavy drinker and drug addict, but she has said herself that she doesn't use drugs. She does like to drink but she says only on days off. She's also said she never drinks before a show and she never drinks and drives. Her partying image is largely a creation designed to challenge double standards in music. If guys could say something without consequences, she felt women should be able to as well.

Some of the songs on her Animal album are about partying. She insisted on only electro-pop and not using any real instruments even though she plays piano and guitar. A lot of the lyrics on "Animal" are fun and upbeat. But she's also written some very thoughtful songs that show her soft, emotional side. The songs "Animal," "Dancing With Tears in My Eyes," "Blind," "Your Love Is My Drug," "Hungover," and "The Harold Song" on her debut album and EP are good examples of that side of her.

Songwriter? She writes her own songs and has since she was a teenager. She's also written songs for other singers including the Britney Spears smash hit "Till the World Ends." But this isn't surprising because her mother is a songwriter.

Ke$ha is from Nashville, which is the heart of the country music industry. Her new album Warrior is a mix of styles from standard dance-pop to rock to country. I hope she will keep doing her fun electropop stuff but mix it up with some meaningful songs along the lines of "Wonderland," "Love Into the Light," "Last Goodbye" and "Past Lives." Artists who do diverse stuff are the most interesting of all. In my opinion, Ke$ha is one of the most interesting young artists in today's music.



LT Wright (author) from California on August 24, 2016:


I did see some performances of her recent shows that I didn't think were that great. Which is a pity because her vocals were on point in several performances earlier in the year. Apparently she's been sick a lot, which I can kind of understand. She's under a lot of stress and that can lead to a lot of illness.

Jt on August 17, 2016:

Saw her last night and she was god awful. Terrible performance. Played 7 songs to a crowd that waited for her for 3-4hrs. We went to support her and hoped for the best but she's trying to use all her past songs into some sort of slow ballad which it doesn't work. She would have been better off doing covers all night.

LT Wright (author) from California on April 02, 2015:


She's recorded a new album but can't release it because she sued her record label to break her contract. Once her contract is broken, she can release new music. But that may take a while since lawsuits take time.

robert on April 01, 2015:

hi this is robert just a random fan, that is wondering if kesha will or is quitting her singing career. because i don't want her to..... and i was asking cause i don't go out and buy albums, i usually hear new songs around school and haven't heard her in a while.... and so it got me questioning if she quit.. hopefully she wont till she wants to retire or something like that. but dude honestly don't give up just because some people are judgmental and crap, she still got fans out there. fans (like me) that are afraid to move on to the next generation of music....

LT Wright (author) from California on April 19, 2013:


That's an extremely narrowminded comment. I'm sure you know very little about her music. There's a Kesha you hear on the radio and her songs are pretty generic. Then there's the excellent artist you don't hear on the radio. Don't judge someone who has recorded almost 150 songs by the 2 or 3 you've heard. Do you have any expertise on singing? People who do say she's actually a very good singer.

Eddie on April 17, 2013:

Uh no, she can't sing and has horrible songs.

LT Wright (author) from California on October 26, 2012:


There are a lot of misunderstandings about her. And she seems to be kind of sensitive to them, which I didn't really expect from her. I always assumed she had an I don't give a damn what people think attitude. But she seems to be bothered about what people think.

Christy Birmingham from British Columbia, Canada on October 26, 2012:

It is too bad that she has been misunderstood by people. I have one of her albums and like upbeat music like some of her songs. I like the way the techno beats sound with her voice. Good info you present here to help educate people about her.

LT Wright (author) from California on October 25, 2012:


I agree. I love her lyrics. Some people think a song has to be serious for the lyrics to be considered good. I actually got into her music when I heard the Ben Folds cover of Sleazy. The lyrics sounded ridiculous when Ben Folds sang them. But I was really impressed when I heard her version. The song has a good meaning about not being a gold digger and about choosing to be poor rather than being exploited by rich men. The lyrics are well done.

Mike G. on October 25, 2012:

I think she's a really good lyricist. Her songs may seem silly but if you pay attention the lyrics are very clever. Edward Lear wrote nonsense poems but most people would agree that he's a great poet. She also has some very poetic lyrics like Goodbye and Animal. I think she's underrated. If her next album is very good, hopefully she'll get some much deserved respect.

LT Wright (author) from California on October 24, 2012:


I'm looking forward to it. From how she has described it, it's going to be a mix of genres. I've listened to a bunch of her unreleased songs and she's definitely capable of handling different styles of music. So, I hope it's good.

Lybrah on October 24, 2012:

Very interesting hub. I am waiting for Kesha's next album, but I want to listen to it first.

LT Wright (author) from California on October 24, 2012:


I haven't heard of that show. It would be interesting to know what he said.

Martin Kloess from San Francisco on October 23, 2012:

I heard about this on 950 radio (the Mancow Show). He made a real funny joke of the whole thing.

LT Wright (author) from California on October 23, 2012:


That's actually true. Different types of songs suit different kinds of voices. A lot of young singers today have to sing pop or dance even if that's not what suits them vocally because that's mainly what sells. Katy Perry is an example of someone who doesn't sound good singing pop live but she's amazing when she does acoustic. But that kind of music doesn't really sell anymore. She wouldn't be able to build a career on it.

Nell Rose from England on October 23, 2012:

Hi, I had never heard of her before, so this was interesting stuff, sometimes people sing better with certain songs, but after listening to some of the singers today it does seem that actually having a good voice is not necessary! lol! interesting hub, voted up!

LT Wright (author) from California on October 23, 2012:


I agree she was really careless about her image. I personally don't have a problem with her lyrics. They actually cheer me up even though I don't drink. But I can understand that some people would. She actually seems like much less of a partier than her songs suggest. She's also an animal rights activist and I think hardly anyone knows that side of her. She needs to more aware of how she presents herself.

LT Wright (author) from California on October 23, 2012:


She will have some stripped down songs on her new album. She's also working on an acoustic EP, which I'm really looking forward to.

Alecia Murphy from Wilmington, North Carolina on October 23, 2012:

She's interesting but I think whoever did her PR initially did her a disservice by making her look like a party animal. That and some of the things she said are off-putting. Her songs are catchy but I think the Auto-tune did her in like Georgie said. I'm hoping she'll prove everyone wrong because even though he singing skills are questionable her songwriting is needed. I was impressed to hear she wrote "Til the World Ends" by Britney. Interesting hub!

Michelle Liew from Singapore on October 23, 2012:

Agree with Gorgie. She probably has talent, but it doesn't show with the heavy techno. P'haps, if she tones down on that, she'll do better! Thanks for sharing about her, and I share as well!

LT Wright (author) from California on October 21, 2012:


She actually has dozens of demo songs on Youtube. A lot of them have little or no autotune. That was something she was doing for effect. I pretty much like all kinds of music, so I'll be happy with whatever she does.

LT Wright (author) from California on October 21, 2012:


She definitely was really good on Dead Flowers and recently with Ben Folds Five. I've actually read the Janis Joplin comparison about her before.

Georgie Lowery from North Florida on October 21, 2012:

Ke$ha probably can sing, but we can't tell through all the auto-tune. I'd give her a chance, and I dislike pop music for the most part. We will just have to see how she does.

TycoonSam from Washington, MI on October 21, 2012:

Great Hub. I think she did a great job on "Dead Flowers". I hear a little Janice Joplin in her voice there.

Voted up and interesting.