Looking Back at Kesha’s “TiK ToK,” The First No. 1 Of The 2010s
10 years ago, it felt as if just about everyone in America was waking up feeling like P. Diddy.
On August 7th, 2009, Ke$ha officially released the song that would end up defining the beginning of her career and go on to become one of the best-selling singles of the decade: “TiK ToK.” But try and tell that to the Ke$ha we heard on Flo Rida’s “Right Round” earlier that year (then known as simply Kesha), a strapped-for-cash singer/songwriter who had just been screwed out of a potential fortune after not being properly credited on the single’s US release.
Despite making a breakthrough of sorts in the industry with the Flo Rida smash hit, Ke$ha jokes that she wrote “TiK ToK” during a time in her life when she had “no money” and was shopping for “canned vegetables.”
The singer also wasn’t incredibly confident about the single in the beginning, either: “I tried to rewrite the verses of ‘TiK ToK,’ ” Ke$ha told Billboard. “I was like, ‘This doesn’t make sense. “Brushing your teeth with Jack Daniel’s”-are people going to get what I’m talking about? Is this too much? Is it clever enough?’ And he literally had to fight me off, and then Benny Blanco had to chase me out of the studio when I got a mind to rewrite it. He kept saying, ‘It’s good. Just trust me, it’s good.'”
Co-written with Dr. Luke and Benny Blanco, “TiK ToK” is said to have been inspired after Ke$ha stumbled into her house half-drunk after a night of partying. The now iconic line, “wake up in the morning feeling like P. Diddy” describes the feeling of being a female “pimp,” she said, while the track as a whole is about not letting a lack of money get in the way of having a fantastic time.
Depending on who you ask, Ke$ha’s “TiK ToK” is also a rare example of a mega-successful solo “white-girl rap song” in the vein of Uffie, Miley Cyrus’s “23” and some of Fergie’s biggest moments with the Black Eyed Peas. In an interview with the New York Times, Ke$ha said her line delivery was inspired by the rap ensemble, Beastie Boys:
“I love the Beastie Boys – that’s probably why ‘TiK ToK’ happened,” she said. “Rap in general has never been my steez, but I like it.”
Ke$ha’s delivery certainly blurred the lines between pop and rap/hip hop, though, as not everyone was keen to the Beastie Boys inspiration behind it all. Barry Weiss, chairman and chief executive of RCA/Jive Label Group said he “never” thought of her as rapping. “I just thoughts of it as her particular vocal phrasing on certain songs.”
Nevertheless, “TiK ToK” shortly began to enter the public consciousness upon its release in August. Despite dominating the charts with “Right Round” earlier that year, the track was initially offered as a free download on Ke$ha’s MySpace page in an effort to build public interest online. “TiK ToK” later debuted at #79 on the Hot 100 on October 24th where it would being its steady ascent to the top.
10 years later, the song’s commercial accomplishments remain as impressive as ever. “TiK ToK” went on to earn the highest sales week for a female artist ever with 610,000 copies sold in one week (this record was later bested by Taylor Swift’s “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” with 623,000 copies) and ruled the Hot 100 for 9 straight weeks. It topped Billboard’s year end list as well, beating out stiff competition like Katy Perry’s “California Gurls,” Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance” and the Usher hit “OMG.”
In today’s internet-driven music industry where memeable songs like “Old Town Road,” “Hotline Bling,” “Redbone,” “Truth Hurts” and more have found organic success through the sheer influence of the public alone, “TiK ToK” feels as relevant to the state of 2019 pop as ever. The potential videos, memes and official challenges practically write themselves thanks to buzzworthy lyrics like “wake up in the morning feeling like P. Diddy,” “ain’t got a care in the world, but got plenty of beer,” and “we kick em to the curb unless they look like Mick Jagger.”
And in a move similar to the Tide Pod Challenge or the Kylie Lip Challenge, it’s likely we would’ve seen a movement inspired by the line “before I leave, brush my teeth with a bottle of Jack.” Ironically, it’s just the type of song that would’ve blown up on music-driven social media app, TikTok.
A look back into Ke$ha’s Twitter archives shows that the track was indeed pretty memeable. At the height of its popularity, the singer responded to a hilarious video of Star Trek characters set to the debaucherous lyrics of “TiK ToK.”
Despite its comparisons to “Just Dance” by Lady Gaga as well as some of Fergie’s most essential moments, “TiK ToK” remains its own breed of a party anthem that has managed to withstand the test of time. And a decade later, it appears the culture may just be circling back to its silly, memeable and care free lyrical content in an industry that’s in dire need of it.
What are your earliest memories of “TiK ToK”? Do you think it stands the test of time? Tweet us at @PopCrave to share your opinions with us!