Animal is the debut studio album by American pop singer Kesha. The album was released on January 1, 2010, by RCA Records. Kesha worked with a variety of producers and writers such as Lukasz Gottwald (Dr. Luke), Benny Blanco, David Gamson, Greg Kurstin, Max Martin, and others. Kesha had been recording demos for several years when one eventually ended up in the hands of Samantha Cox, senior director of writer/publisher relations at BMI. Cox passed along the demo and it ended up in the hands of Gottwald, who decided to have Kesha perform on the song "Right Round". Within two months, the song became a hit in multiple countries around the world. The event led to Kesha being sought after by many major labels, and she eventually signed a multi-album deal with RCA Records.
The album received mixed reviews from music critics. Some appreciated its fun, carefree nature, while others dismissed it as juvenile and said that it seemed insincere. Lyrically, the majority of the album's songs are based on Kesha's past life experiences of love, heartbreak, boys, and having a good time. Musically, Animal draws from the dance-pop genre, while incorporating elements of electro and electropop in its production and beats. The album attained chart success, debuting at number one in Canada, the United States, and Greece, while charting within the top ten in seven other countries. Animal was certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) for shipments of one million copies and has sold over 3 million copies worldwide.
Four singles were released from the album. Its lead single, "Tik Tok", was released on August 7, 2009 and was a worldwide hit, reaching number one in eleven countries. It reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100 and stayed at the top for nine consecutive weeks. The song sold 12.8 million digital copies worldwide in 2010, making it the best selling single of the year; it sold 5,633,000 downloads in the United States alone, making it the sixth best-selling song in digital history. It has now sold over 15 million copies worldwide, and as of August 7, 2014 (exactly five years after its release), it is the second best-selling digital single worldwide. The album's second, third and fourth singles, "Blah Blah Blah", "Your Love Is My Drug" and "Take It Off" all achieved similar success reaching the top ten in multiple countries including Australia, Canada and the United States.
The album's commercial success led to its nomination for the Juno Award for "Best International Album" in 2011.
Kesha had been recording demos for several years, when one of her demos ended up in the hands of Samantha Cox, senior director of writer/publisher relations at BMI. Cox, who had worked with Kesha before, passed along the demos to a friend at BMI, who passed it to the manager of Lukasz Gottwald, known as Dr. Luke. At the age of eighteen, Kesha signed to Dr. Luke's label, Kemosabe Records, and his publishing company, Prescription Songs. Luke was busy with other projects at the time, and Kesha ultimately wound up signed to David Sonenberg's management company, DAS. While at DAS she worked with several top writers and producers, but rarely worked with or even spoke to Luke. DAS searched for a label deal for Kesha despite her still being in a signed contract with Luke. Kara DioGuardi, an artists and repertoire (A&R) representative for Warner, was also interested in signing Kesha but the deal never went through because of the outstanding contract with Luke. Shortly after, Kesha and DAS parted ways and Kesha wound up reunited with Luke. At the end of 2008, Luke was working on a track with Flo Rida called "Right Round", and the two decided they needed a female hook. Luke decided to have Kesha perform on the song and within two months, it was a number one hit in multiple countries around the world. The event led to Kesha being sought after by many major labels, and she eventually signed a multi-album deal with RCA Records. Kesha explained that she chose to sign with the company due to how well she got along with RCA A&R executive Rani Hancock, explaining that "Rani doesn't ever try to censor me, [...] and I like being surrounded by strong, intelligent women."
"Animal, the name of the record, it's kind of my steez [style], I have to say. I named it that because I want people to lose it when they listen to my record and go to the animal part of themselves that they suppress. Society has taught us to suppress certain things and not do certain things."
—Kesha, on the inspiration on the album title
Kesha had been working on Animal for seven years prior to its release, and had written over 200 songs for the album. The abundance of material extended it from its originally planned twelve tracks to fourteen. Kesha felt that the album had an empowering, carefree message for young women. "For girls, I think it's an empowering record, it's funny, it's cheeky," she said. "I think people need to have fun with whatever they're doing—makeup, their clothes, music, live shows—anything you don't need to take too seriously, don't take too seriously." When asked how the album related to her life, Kesha explained that the album was completely autobiographical. "I just write about what I live—literally, [...] I think there's a great pop song in anything and everything, any situation." She cites her songs "Stephen" and "Dinosaur" as examples of this. She explained: "it's about this guy I've been stalking since I was 15. I wrote the song when I was 16 with my mom, and I was like, "This song's so dope, I know it is". "Dinosaur" came "about [when] this old guy who was hitting on me, and his toupee was kind of falling off, and I was like, "Oh my God, you're so old, you're prehistoric, you're like a dinosaur. D-I-N-O-S-A-you are a dinosaur." Explaining the reasoning behind the title track being placed at the end of the album's tracklist, Kesha said:
"I believe, sonically, the next record might be going. Me and my brother had a silly punk band before, and I loved pop music and I liked catchy music, but I think I also am possessed to be what some critics might deem as silly pop music. I think I have more shit to offer, so I think that "Animal" is a nice segue into the next record, hopefully."
Musically, Animal is of the dance-pop and electro-pop genres, while incorporating elements of electro in its production and beats. Kesha's vocals uses Auto-Tune and vocoders to alter her voice and includes samples. David Jeffries of Allmusic noted that the album lyrically revolves around avoiding reality with a preference for a "garbage chic" life, with lyrics such as "Maybe I need some rehab, or maybe just need some sleep" from the opening song "Your Love Is My Drug". Lyrically, the majority of the album's songs are based on Kesha's past life experiences of love, heartbreak, boys, and having a good time. "Your Love Is My Drug" is a dance song that is layered with a heavy electronic backdrop. Her vocals throughout the song have been described as a shouty sing-speak style. Musically, the song uses a simple, upbeat lyric line. On "Tik Tok" Kesha uses a spoken word rap style on the verses while the chorus is sung. According to her the lyrics are representative of herself, stating "it's about my life, it's 100 per cent me". "Take It Off" has been described as "a heavily Auto-Tuned reworking" of "There's a Place in France".
"Kiss n Tell"'s lyrics depict a tale of the "“slutty” ex of [Kesha] [who is] spreading his wild oats around the town". The writing of the song came about after Kesha discovered that her boyfriend was cheating on her with a famous pop starlet. "Kiss n Tell" is a dance-pop track that features standard elements of "party pop" music that is prominent on Animal. According to sheet music published at Musicnotes.com by Sony/ATV Music Publishing, "Kiss n Tell" is written in the time signature of common time, with a moderate beat rate of 144 beats per minute. The song is written in the key of E Major and Kesha's vocal range in the song spans from the note of G♯3 to the note of B4. "Stephen" is opened in "Kansas-style vocal harmonies" as Kesha sings about an unattainable lover depicting their story. "Blah Blah Blah" combines heavy use of Auto-Tune with drum machines while infusing hints of R&B. Lyrically, "Blah Blah Blah" depicts a woman who would rather have sex than listen to a man speak. "Dinosaur" features a whistle-synth infused backing while the lyrics describe the story of older men hitting on younger girls. "Party at a Rich Dude's House" is reminiscent of music from the 1980s which according to Jeffries could have appeared on the soundtrack to the 1982 film Fast Times at Ridgemont High. "Dancing with Tears in My Eyes" is an upbeat pop-rock ballad; one of a small minority of tracks to incorporate Guitars in the instrumental, as Kesha tried to exclude the style from the album. "Boots & Boys" is a "lusty" song reminiscent of INXS's "Suicide Blonde", but from a female point of view.
Animal received mixed to positive reviews from music critics upon its release. The album holds a score 54 out of 100 based on 18 critical reviews, according to the music review aggregator Metacritic.Ann Powers of the Los Angeles Times stated that Kesha was "offer[ing] a thoroughly fleshed-out character to embrace or despise," comparing her persona to "classic screwball blond[s]" such as Jean Harlow and Mae West, while praising her and Dr. Luke for "refashion[ing] the screwball heroine role to suit a new era of aggressive superficiality and libertine self-empowerment". Her conclusion about Kesha and the album was that "[h]er total commitment to the deliberately stupid script Animal provides makes [the album] work." Ailbhe Malone of NME gave Animal a mixed review but concluded that "[b]eneath the patina of skeezy Freshers'-Week-LOLZ lyrics ('got a water-bottle full of whiskey in my handbag')" it seems there "lies a talent."  Andrew Burgess of musicOMH was impressed with Kesha, calling her an "auto-tuned talk-singing, gum-smacker" that may well be "a pop-genius, a gutter-glam Jonathan Swift." He described the album as "an infectiously good dance-pop album." Daniel Brockman of The Phoenix thought that the album was "a clear subversion of pop norms" with "effortless hooks".
Monica Herrera of Billboard commented that the prevalent use of Auto-Tune on Kesha's vocals made it difficult to tell if she could actually sing, citing the song "Take It Off" as an example of "how easily individuality can get lost in a sea of Auto-Tune". On the other hand, Herrera was impressed with the "choruses that stick with the listener for days." David Jeffries of AllMusic was not impressed with the album's ballads, calling them "completely unsatisfying." However, he noted "that with so many fun, 'Tik Tok'-type tracks, the album has plenty for both brats and the bratty at heart." James Reed of The Boston Globe believed that Kesha's "personality is completely missing from [the songs]," resulting in her sounding "vapid and faceless." Jonathan Keefe of Slant Magazine was extremely critical of the album and Kesha, saying that her attempts to sing and rap were "pitiful", describing her as "insincere" and "souless". Dave Simpson of The Guardian also questioned the honesty of her lyrics while comparing her unfavorably to Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, and Britney Spears.
In the United States, Animal debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 on the week of January 23, 2010 with sales of 152,000 (setting a record for digital sales of a number one album, at 76%). With "Tik Tok" occupying the top spot on the Billboard Hot 100 at the same time, Kesha became the first act to achieve this feat since 2008 when Spirit and "Bleeding Love" by Leona Lewis simultaneously held the pole positions. At the end of 2010, the album ranked at position twenty on Billboard's year end chart.Animal became the tenth best selling album in the US in 2010, selling 1.14 million copies that year. In October, 2010, the album received platinum certification by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) for shipment of 1,000,000 units and has since sold 1.4 million copies in the country alone.
In Canada, the album debuted at number one on the Canadian Albums Chart with sales of 16,000, later going on to become the biggest-selling digital album in the country. On the Canadian album year end chart the album ranked at position twelve. In May 2011, the album was certified double platinum by the Canadian Recording Industry Association (CRIA) for shipment of 160,000 units. The album was released a month later in the United Kingdom and debuted at number eight on the UK Albums Chart with first week sales of 18,723.
In Australia, the album debuted at number four, where it stayed consecutively for two weeks before falling to the number five position. On the countries 2010 year end chart the album ranked at position eleven. The album has since been certified double platinum by the Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA) for sales of 140,000 copies.Animal was released on January 11, 2010 in New Zealand and debuted and peaked at number six. The album was listed at position thirty on New Zealand's 2010, year end chart. It has since been certified Gold by the Recording Industry Association of New Zealand (RIANZ) for sales of 7,500 units. As of September 2012, the album has sold over 3,000,000 copies worldwide.
"Tik Tok" was released as the album's lead single commercially worldwide on August 7, 2009, through digital distribution. Upon its release the single generated mixed to generally positive reviews. Critics generally praised the lyrics and celebration of party lifestyle; the song's production was generally well received although some critics criticized the song for sounding irritating and being too similar to other tracks performed by the likes of Lady Gaga and Uffie. The song achieved commercial success by topping charts in eleven countries, as well as reaching the top ten in many other countries. It reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100 and stayed at the top for nine consecutive weeks. "Tik Tok" had sold over 6 million downloads in the United States alone and 15 million worldwide, making it the second best-selling song in digital history. The song sold 12.8 million digital copies worldwide in 2010, making it the best selling single of the year, trumping the previous year's song by more than three million downloads. "Blah Blah Blah" was released as the second single from the album on February 19, 2010. It had charted before being released in the album's debut week in the United States due to strong digital download sales on par with "Tik Tok", which influenced RCA's decision to release it as the next single. The song also debuted and peaked in the top ten in three other countries under similar circumstances, only improving upon its peak in Australia. The single was met with mixed reaction from music critics, some praised Kesha's unapologetic lyrics combined with an auto-tuned working hook, while others called it trashy. Although reviews were mainly positive, a common complaint amongst critics was the appearance of 3OH!3.
"Your Love Is My Drug" was released as the album's third single. The song generated generally positive reviews from music critics. Critics complimented the song for its strong hook, but had mixed reactions about the chorus. Kesha was praised for knowing her way around a "strong pop chorus", while others critics called it predictable and dull. It reached the top ten in the United States, Canada, and Australia—peaking at number four, six and three—giving her her third consecutive top ten hit in all regions. The single reached the top ten in five countries. "Take It Off" was released on July 13, 2010 as the album's fourth single. Upon its release the single generated mixed to positive reviews from music critics. A common complaint amongst critics was the demonstration of overly processed vocals with the use of auto-tune. Other critics complimented the song for its carefree dance feel and its catchiness. Due to strong digital sales from the release of Animal, the song charted in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Canada before being announced as a single. After being released as a single the song reached the top ten in Canada, Australia and the United States. It has also reached the top twenty in Ireland, the United Kingdom and New Zealand.
Kesha at MuchMusic Video Awards soundcheck in 2010.
RCA noticed Kesha's strong following on social media when negotiating her contract and thus relied on viral marketing to build a following for her debut single, "Tik Tok" offering it for free a month before releasing it for digital download. "Tik Tok" was released for digital download in August 2009 and reached number one on iTunes in New Zealand without radio airplay. Radio stations soon began expressing interest in the song, but RCA/Jive Label Group chairman/CEO Barry Weiss decided to delay its shipping to radio by a month, to October, to let the song continue to build viral support digitally and good word of mouth. While "Tik Tok"'s airplay was not stellar right out of the gates, it soon gained enough momentum to give RCA the go ahead to release Animal in January 2010. Finance executives had pushed for a Christmas release to capitalize on the usual strong sales during that time period, but Weiss thought that the album would be lost in the shuffle among the many other releases released at that time.
Originally planned to only be a re-release of Animal, Cannibal was instead released both as a deluxe edition of Animal as well as a stand alone EP. The EP has been classified as a follow up "nine-song companion" record to Animal.Cannibal was originally intended to contain anywhere between four to eight tracks with the final outcome consisting of eight tracks and one previously heard song remixed, for a total of nine tracks.