#TBT: Why Kesha’s ‘Backstabber’ Flawlessly Holds Up Over Time


Here’s the thing: in spite of various hot messcapades, a mother-daughter stint in rehab, and dropping the hard-as-fuck $ from the stylization of her name, Kesha remains lovable. You know why? Because she never tried to convince us that she was a serieuse artiste. She was the tall, trashysexycool drink of water we needed after Lady Gaga followed up one good, unpretentious dancepop album with a terror of performance art, insufferable fashion, humanitarian “causes,” and (need we mention?) nary a single track that was ever as good as anything off her debut album.

Kesha stayed unpretentious. Kesha brought an aspect of performance art to her music (if James Van Derbeek in a unicorn head at a rave isn’t performance art, we don’t know what is), but it never devolved into an awkwardly self-serious, sincere turn at “theater.” Kesha just wanted to brush her teeth with whiskey and let everybody know about it. The closest she ever came to “I’m an artist, take me seriously” was taking every opportunity on the press tour for her sophomore album to mention that she had written her own music this time around.

But her shamelessly catchy hooks never wavered in loopability, she never put on an airs, and she never entertained delusions of grandeur. No problematic “Born This Way” gay anthems. All radical “We R Who We R” self-love.

And way back in 2008, before “Tik Tok” was on infuriating over-rotation at your local Top 40 station, a catchy little trumpet-hooked song called “Backstabber” brilliantly scored a Lauren Conrad feud on MTV’s The Hills, which every American woman currently between the ages of 20 and 30 obsessively over-identified with. We all had a Jen Bunney, and, for your sake, angels, I hope you’ve friend-broken up with her by now. Because she’s a terrible person who conspired with your best friend to hook up with your heart’s desire, and seventeen years of being in Girl Scouts together or whatever doesn’t mean you owe her a goddamned thing, least of all, a diamond martini glass bracelet.

You probably also had a Heidi Montag, who claimed to be your BFF, and then ran her mouth to the entire school when you started experimenting with girls on the down low. Kesha knows that feel, too. Just watch her never “officially” released video for “Backstabber” (Perez Hilton “exclusively leaked” it online), and bask in the validation of your every young adult trauma surrounding love, betrayal, and an intensely co-dependent best friend/arch nemesis-ship. And maybe send that girl a message telling her to shut her fucking mouth.

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