Wouldn’t it Be Nice? The Twisted Fantasy of Ke$ha’s ‘Die Young’

Times have changed. For youth and the music scene, growing old isn’t really much of an option, let alone the subject of a song. Ke$ha’s newest album Warrior and her Billboard Top 100 #3 hit song “Die Young” are key examples for a shift in youth culture. It communicates two primary things:

  1. A shift from being young forever to being young and then you die.
  2. No longer seeking to grow up and mature, and, as a result, escaping from responsibility and accountability.

Ke$ha leaves no room to speculate on her outlook on life: “Let’s make the most of the night like we’re gonna die young.” She doesn’t want to miss out on any experience or anyone and aims to do whatever pleases her as if she is going to, in fact, “die young.”

She sings, “Looking for some trouble tonight / take my hand I’ll show you the wild side / like it’s the last night of our lives / let’s make the most of tonight like we’re gonna die young.” This showcases a new dream, that youth is all there is. While enticing, this is a deceptive dream. But aging is inevitable, and youth can be seen as a platform for growth and maturity in the future.

If Ke$ha will in fact “die young” as her song suggests, then it will not matter how she spends her evening or who she spends her evening with. “Die Young” is about a fear of responsibility above all, even death.

About Jewel Evans

Loves living in Louisville, Kentucky with her husband, Mike. She fills her days with delicious food, coffee, running, and books that you can melt into. Find her on Twitter at @jewelstar87.

  • http://www.theretuned.com Matthew Linder

    It might be a newer theme for music but Sci-Fi movies have long explored this theme as with movies like “Logan’s Run” or “In Time”.

  • GPC

    When I first read this I thought you were joking. But it’s seems like you completely misinterpreted the song. She’s singing about meeting a guy she likes but he’s with someone else. She knows she can’t have him, so she wants to make the most of their time together. The song is saying people should seize the day and enjoy every moment. It doesn’t mean not caring about your future or not accepting responsibility. I don’t see how you get that at all.

    Kesha is a successful business woman, so obviously she cares about her future. She wouldn’t work so hard if she didn’t. She’s a longtime animal rights activist and staunch feminist, so she obviously feels some responsibility to make the world a little better. Die Young is a love song about two people who can’t be together. It doesn’t have any greater meaning about “escaping from responsibility and accountability.”

  • http://jaketolbert.com/blog Jake T

    “You can say what you want…but only the good die young.”

    That lyric’s as old as I am, which is to say, not a new sentiment by any stretch of the imagination.

  • Daniel

    Makes me think of Randy Stonehill’s “Die Young”…only his was a parody.

  • Richard Clark

    GPC – So spending just one night with a guy who’s with someone else has no moral implications?

  • http://opus.fm/ Jason Morehead
  • Evelyn

    I definitely wouldn’t interpret the lyrics so seriously, and especially interpret that way

  • http://www.linkedin.com/in/pgepps pgepps

    Hmmm. Evelyn, GPC–especially GPC–did you watch the video? GPC, did you actually attend to the lyrics?

    I mean, even if we pretend that video production is radically disconnected from songwriting for a performer like this–and grant that despite the little wildlife clip, this song is no NiN “Hurt” for profound insight–don’t we still have to notice that this is definitely doing exactly what Jewel said? “make the most of” (to include “strippin’ down” with someone she met “lookin’ for some action”) “the night” because (even though it involves disloyalty because “you came with someone else”) it doesn’t matter on the supposition “we’re gonna die young.”

    Suppose you could be sure you were going to die soon. What kind of person would therefore advise you to befoul your soul and harm your self and others in your remaining time? And what does it say about you if you buy that logic?

    And before you suggest that this is taking it too seriously, note that the video producer clearly took it seriously enough to frame the cheesecake crapola in the middle with Western-outlaw and Catholic-mission imagery, then to intentionally interpret that imagery as a negative religious message (the Marian procession turns out to be carrying a stripper, er, neopagan priestess, er, Playboy bunny-fox-thing, er, interchangeable 20C sex object; the inverted crosses and frivolous uses of pentacle, pyramid, etc.) and to suggest quite literally a suicide-by-cop exit at the end (vague shades of Butch & Sundance, Bonnie & Clyde, etc).

    True that the message isn’t new. But this is another level down from Billy Joel’s “Only the Good Die Young” (which is itself pretty obviously reprehensible). I really only disagree with Jewel’s framing statement at the beginning, which suggests that this song shows a new stage in a process. It’s really an example of a perennial phenomenon, one we’ve seen throughout history, and in our culture certainly ever since the Romantics.


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