Ke$ha: My Crazy Beautiful Life : TV Review

Yu Tsai
What should be fresh is more akin to a standard tour documentary of a band you used to like.

The raw footage of grease, glitter, auto-tuning and partying doesn't quite support the pretension of MTV's new docuseries.

Ke$ha, the pop star best known for butchering spelling and looking like she rolled in a grease bath of glitter and melted crayons, is the subject of a new documentary series on MTV, filmed by her brother Lagan Sebert. With exceptionally energetic editing, Ke$ha: My Crazy Beautiful Life chronicles the singer's exploits over two years, juxtaposing her "partying for a living" with quieter, emotional moments like, er, stalking her ex-boyfriend Harold.

Ke$ha was everywhere in 2010 when her single "TiK ToK" catapulted her into the pop conscious, after which she enjoyed a run of six consecutive top 10 singles. Still, recently, Ke$ha (like Lady Gaga and Nicki Minaj, two other party-pop icons) has seemed to lose some relevance. Her latest single, "C'Mon," peaked at 27 on the Billboard Hot 100, and sales of the album are down. "Dreams end," Ke$ha acknowledges in a voice-over, "and I don't want this dream to end."

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While the first half of the inaugural episode focuses on Ke$ha's partying ways (with the oft-refrain "let's get drunk!"), it then slows down as she takes in an unimpressed New York Times review of one of her shows, laments about her being bullied by celebrity gossip blogger Perez Hilton (who released nude photos of her and has made several pointed attacks) and wanders along Venice Beach woefully recounting the lost love in her life whom she met when she was 18 and who wanted her "to settle down and have babies." But of course, life on the road called. "He's always been my muse, though," the (at the time) 24-year-old says, later hiding under a blanket in the passenger seat of her brother's car as they drive by her ex's house.

That's the thing about Ke$ha -- even in moments that should feel relatable, it's hard to take her seriously because of how seriously she seems to take herself. The documentary spends a lot of time focusing on her adoring fans, especially those moved to tears by her performances. "Knowing she went through what I'm going through is so important," says a young boy from England who says he doesn't fit in at school and cries after meeting her. My Crazy Beautiful Life seems to want to prove that despite all of the seemingly shallow and party-centric content -- the glitter, the auto-tuning, the neon and robotics Ke$ha produces -- that her message of "be yourself" is what makes it all elevated to something worthwhile.

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Those who already are fans of Ke$ha will appreciate the all-access pass, since the primary filmmaker is indeed her brother (he throws in a few bits of home video content and narrates at the start before Ke$ha takes over), even though him zooming in on her making out with someone at a club feels a little weird. Sebert was aided by filmmaker Steven Greenstreet in the project, and the two were part of a very minimal crew so everything would be filmed with a natural feel. But the project initially was conceived of by Ke$ha and Sebert before the raw footage was shaped by its eventual producers, a feeling reflected in Ke$ha's obvious awareness of what she wants the footage to convey from the start.

What made E!'s recent star-focused documentary What Would Ryan Lochte Do? palatable is the fact the Lochte is a goof and knows he's a goof. Ke$ha, on the other hand, seems to be caught between her over-the-top antics and wanting to be respected. Further, because of the fact the footage is over the past two years, My Crazy Beautiful Life doesn't feel fresh but instead is more akin to a standard tour documentary of a band you used to like. In the end, perhaps the best way to explain what the documentary offers is to quote from "TiK ToK": "Tick tock on the clock, but the party don't stop, no."