Sometimes the most emotional, raw covers come from the artists we least suspect are capable of wringing such truth from between the notes. But Ke$ha’s wrenching version of Bob Dylan’s “Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright” is one of those rare covers which will stick with you and demand you repeat them until you’ve let every note soak into your consciousness.
“I didn’t want this to sound like a pop version of a Bob Dylan song,” Ke$ha tells Rolling Stone. “That’s the last thing I wanted this to sound like.” And it doesn’t sound like pop in the least, as she strips the song bare in the opening verse, just her voice as she lets the words tell the story through her cracked vocals, seeming on the verge of a complete breakdown through the entire four minutes. “It seemed like a suicide note to the love of my life and to my former life,” she says. “I’m so lucky and blessed, but there are moments that are just so incredibly lonely that it’s indescribable. And I’ve never written a song that’s admitted that. Singing Bob Dylan’s words and feeling my own emotion through it – it was a very intense moment for me.”
The result may be the finest thing she’s had the opportunity to record, torched and tragically beautiful as she showcases a voice which certainly deserves to have finer material to sing than she’s had to this point in her career. You can hear the song below via a YouTube clip, though it will also soon be commercially available via a 4 CD box set of Bob Dylan tribute songs, Chimes of Freedom, which has been commissioned by Amnesty International. The set releases on January 24, 2012 in honor of the charity’s 50th anniversary, and it can be streamed now via their Facebook page.
I really wanted to hate this song when I saw that the New York Post dubbed Neon Hitch as an A-List female pop queen and that Idolator called her a sexy singer songwriter despite the fact that her hit is produced by the same guy who produces Ke$ha, Britney Spears and Katy Perry. It’s clear the hype machine wants to make sure Neon Hitch is the 2011 answer to Lady Gaga now that Gaga has played out her crazy-as-batshit stage reputation for all its worth, leaving nothing but her new music behind (and look how disappointing that was, my friends).
The problem is, as much issue as I take with this kind of electro-pop music being considered “singer-songwriter” in any sense of the phrase, this is definitely an addictive piece of dance pop, and it’s all but certain to tear up the charts, since it plays to everything top 40 radio adores these days. I”m not sold on the idea that Neon Hitch has anything else up her sleeve but this one potential Britney-aping confection. And the “bad dog, let me punish you” fetishism of the lyrics becomes cloying the more you hear it. But the song’s catchy as hell and once you do hear it you won’t get it out of your head, which is why in a few months you won’t be able to escape singing along with the chorus.
I wanted to hate this song like a vengeance, and by the end of 2011 I probably will. Which is why I’m glad I at least got to hear it before top 40 radio makes it impossible not to despise it. I do hope, however, that there’s something more to Neon Hitch than a great backstory and this one pop track that is here today, gone tomorrow. We’ll find out when she drops her debut album Beg, Borrow and Steal later this year.