Die Young (Kesha song)

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"Die Young"
A Caucasian female with blond braids and a floral diadem. She is sparsely clothed in a suit of leather strips with much skin expose. Back facing a mirror, her reflection is symmetrically depicted with the words "Kesha" and "Die Young" appearing in the center.
Single by Kesha
from the album Warrior
Released September 25, 2012
Recorded 2012
Genre Electropop
Length 3:33[1]
Songwriter(s) [2]
  • Dr. Luke
  • Cirkut
  • Benny Blanco
Kesha singles chronology
"Die Young"
"Die Young"
Music video
"Die Young" on YouTube

"Die Young" is a song by American recording artist Kesha. It was released on September 25, 2012 as the lead single from her second studio album, Warrior (2012). Kesha co-wrote the song with its producers, Dr. Luke, Benny Blanco, and Cirkut, with additional writing from Nate Ruess, the lead singer of Fun. Kesha wrote the lyrics after traveling around the world and embarking on a spiritual journey.

"Die Young" charted in multiple countries, debuting at 13 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. In its third week, "Die Young" broke into the top-ten, making it Kesha's seventh top-ten hit since her debut on the chart in 2010 with "Tik Tok" and ninth top-ten hit including her collaborations with Flo Rida and 3OH!3.[3] It eventually peaked at number two, continuing Kesha's string of top-ten singles. The song has also reached the top ten in multiple countries worldwide, including most of the English-speaking world and has received a platinum certification in five countries.

In December 2012, the song was removed from some radio stations in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.

The Song was written in the key of E Major with a tempo of 128 beats per minute.

Background and composition[edit]

Produced primarily by Dr. Luke and Benny Blanco, Kesha worked with the lead singer of fun., Nate Ruess, to write "Die Young".[4][5] Co-producer Blanco called the song "old hippie rock."[4][5] The song was written in 2011, after Kesha traveled the world. Before working on her second studio album, she went on a spiritual journey. Recalling experiences of feeding baby lions and swimming with great white sharks, Kesha said, "I got hypnotized, and I just really wanted this record to be really positive, really raw, really vulnerable and about the magic of life."[4] She intends for the song to show her vulnerable side, saying, "I have a lot of growing and evolving to do. I'm definitely not a one-trick pony and I think people are starting to see that more and more."[6]

About the song, she told Carson Daly on 97.1 AMP Radio:

"It's kind of an anthem. It's a celebration song, which I’m obviously known for writing those, but this one, the concept of it was to live each and every single day like it's your last and to always remain having a youthful spirit no matter how old I get...I can sing like a motherf***er! You're going to hear that because I'm also doing this acoustic EP for my fans. Some of the old songs and the new songs."[7]

The song employs Kesha's trademark electropop sounds.[8][9] "Die Young" spreads acoustic guitar strums, in the progression of [[E MajorB/E/A, over an uptempo dance beat, while Kesha belts her half-rapped, half-sung vocals on the verses,[10] where she says, "I hear your heart beat to the beat of the drums." Over throbbing percussion, she continues: "Oh what a shame that you came here with someone / So while you're here in my arms / Let's make the most of the night like we're gonna die young."[4][5] "Die Young" features synth rifts in the new wave style, reminiscent of The Cars and other music in the 1980s.[11] Towards the end of the song, a choir of backing vocals chimes the chorus over a glam rock drum beat.[11]


Critical response[edit]

An Afro-American male donning a black peacoat, ash-colored jeans, dark sunglasses, a white shirt with scarlet lettering, and a gold chain about the throat, gives the thumbs up gesture on back hands while smiling in front of a gray background
A Caucasian female with her hair in a bun, large gold hoop earrings, and a chocolate-colored animal skin jacket sings into a microphone with her hand flat simulating a pushing motion. She stands in front of a red background and only appears from the waist up.
With shoulder-length violet hair and a cartilage piercing on her right ear, A Caucasin female in a yellow and black polka-dotted bustiere smiles with her head tilted slightly forward.
"Die Young" has been compared to "Good Feeling" by Flo Rida (left), "Domino" by Jessie J (middle) and "Teenage Dream" by Katy Perry (right) all of which were produced by Dr. Luke.[12]

Seventeen called it "classic Ke$ha",[9] while Robbie Daw of Idolator said, "[I'm] getting a 'if you’ve heard one Ke$ha song, you’ve heard 'em all' vibe, which is unfortunate."[11] In an interview with Rolling Stone, she said she intended to craft songs in the 1970s "cock rock" genre,[13] but Daw felt that her lackluster vocal delivery neither departed from her previous sound nor lived up to the hype.[11] Rolling Stone said that "Die Young" is "the Ke$ha we know and love,"[14] and that "it sounds sorta exactly like Taio Cruz".[15] August Brown of the Los Angeles Times agreed, saying the single was, "...no major departure from her classic template of ravey pop spiced with gum-smacking raps and occasional vocal acrobatics." Further, she wrote that "Die Young" had a "stock-and-trade" message, with the title being, "...a fate... less like a thing to be avoided, and more like the goal is to live fast and leave a good-looking corpse."[16] Marc Hogan of Spin wrote that Kesha's usual idiosyncrasies of punk rockers downing shots, transparent in even her worst songs, did not appear on "Die Young",[10] announcing that "this one feels a bit more, well, blah than her previous hits."[10] Perez Hilton posted the song to his blog with the title "Ke$ha's New Single Die Young Is A Killer!", and said, "...[it] has us getting up and dancing like there's no tomorrow."[17] Contactmusic.com noted the song's success on Twitter, where fans tweeted their appreciation. The reviewer also acknowledged Hogan's negative review, saying that a few more plays would convert him to the song.[17] Indie music blog Stereogum said the song was "glorious", "establishing Ke$ha as one of the industry's best new pop songwriters".[18] Sarah Polosky of Vibe said the song's production worked like water, with the message being steadfast, and the beats dangerously addictive.[19] On the lyrics video, she noted similarities between K-pop singer, PSY's 2012 hit, "Gangnam Style".[19] The song's major similarity to Flo Rida's "Good Feeling" has been acknowledged by Billboard.[8] The song has also been compared to "Domino" by Jessie J and "Teenage Dream" by Katy Perry. All three songs have also been produced by Dr. Luke. Conversely, Jessica Sager of Pop Crush made the same comparisons, and also praised the lack of Auto-Tune in "Die Young".[20] Another source to acknowledge the similarities is MTV saying, "So do we think "Die Young" is pushing [Kesha] toward new sonic heights? Not particularly."[12] Entertainment Weekly critic Ray Rahmen lent "Die Young" a positive review, saying it had all "the pop swag of a high-school girl sneaking a bottle of Smirnoff Ice into prom," before praising the song's remix potential.[21] Bill Lamb of About.com was very positive of the song, giving it five out of five stars and claiming the song "defines the moment in pop music" and calling it "flawless".[22]

The song later placed at number 22 on The Village Voice's 40th annual Pazz & Jop critics' poll.[23]

Chart performance[edit]

October 1, 2012 marked "Die Young"'s debut on the Billboard Pop Songs chart. Peaking at 21, it serves as Kesha's highest ranking debut on that chart.[24] "Die Young" entered the Hot 100 at number 13, also debuting at number 3 on the Hot Digital Songs chart with 188,000 purchases. On airplay, the song garnered 31 million hits.[25] On the week ending in October 27, "Die Young" debuted on Billboard's Hot Dance Club Songs chart at number 45.[26] In its third week, "Die Young" rose to number 8 on the Hot 100, giving her eight top-ten hits on the chart since her debut with "Tik Tok" in 2010.[3] In its fifth week, the song jumped to number 4 on the chart.[27] For the week ending December 8, 2012, "Die Young" reached its eventual peak of number 2, being kept off the top spot by Rihanna's "Diamonds".[28] On track to become her third number one, she began to lose airplay in December 2012, when several radio stations began to stop playing the song due to the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, and began falling down the charts. "Die Young" also became a number 1 hit on the Pop Songs chart, making it her third number 1 hit on that chart along with "Your Love Is My Drug" and "Tik Tok" and her sixth top ten hit for that chart as well.[29] As of March 2016, "Die Young" has sold 2.9 million copies in the US.[30]

In the United Kingdom, "Die Young" entered the chart at number 10 on December 2, 2012.[31] The following week it rose to number 7,[32] which is its highest placing on the chart and makes it her third solo top ten hit and fifth top ten hit overall in the United Kingdom.[33]

Radio response after Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting[edit]

"Ultimately, 'Die Young' has, content-wise, nothing to do with what happened... But a lot of us went, 'That doesn't feel right, to be even saying the words 'Die Young' right now on the radio.'"

—Steve Jones, vice president of programming for Canadian radio station chain Newcap Radio, on the company's decision to pull the song[34]

On December 15, 2012, the day after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting transpired, the song was withdrawn from some radio stations, causing "Not Your Fault Kesha" to trend on social networking site Twitter.[35] The withdrawal sent out a mixed response online. Responding to the event, Kesha tweeted: "I'm so so so sorry for anyone who has been affected by this tragedy and I understand why my song is now inappropriate. Words cannot express."[36] In a separate tweet, Kesha confessed that she had no control over the lyrical content of the song and was forced to sing it. Despite being credited as a songwriter on the track, she did not contribute to the chorus lyrically, as this part was written by Nate Ruess,[37][38] although she reaffirmed that she fully resonated with the song's message;[38][39] the tweet verifying this was later deleted.[40][41][42] Before the shooting, "Die Young" ranked number 3 on American airplay charts, but dropped, losing 19 million listeners.[36][41] A music source told TMZ that such a drastic airplay drop is rare, the last of such magnitude being seen following the Dixie Chicks' criticism of George W. Bush.[41] According to Billboard, other songs that saw decreased radio play in the wake of the shooting included Foster the People's "Pumped Up Kicks" and David Guetta's "Titanium".[43]

Music video[edit]

Background and release[edit]

The video was directed by Chris Applebaum and Darren Craig[44] but Applebaum withdrew his name from the official credits.[45] To promote the single, two teaser trailers were released online. The first showed a waffle waitress holding a slip of paper inscribed with a capital "R", which resembles the official logo of Rihanna, leading to rumors that Rihanna would possibly be featured on the song.[6][6] The second video appeared online, after the singer tweeted, "Wanna hint?". It displayed Kesha in the Tokyo Metro, whistling the chorus of "Die Young"[6][46] An official lyric video was posted to Kesha's VEVO account the day of the single's release.[19] On September 24, 2012, celebrity makeup artist and blogger for People Scott Barnes wrote that he was working with Kesha on the music video for "Die Young".[47] On the video itself and the makeup artistry behind it, he said:

"... I like to blow people’s expectations away, and that means creating something they’ve never seen before — so stay tuned to see what we come up with."[47]

Photographs of Kesha on-set for the filming of the music video leaked online. Jenna Hally Rubenstein of MTV commented: "...Kesha [is] into wearing basically nothing these days...and it's looking like that no-clothes theme has continued." She compared the leaked photographs and the cover art for the single, further comparing it to Cher's body rope, certain professional wrestlers, and Amazon princesses.[48] Kesha announced that the video would be released the following day on November 7.[49]

Concept and synopsis[edit]

Playing the role of a cult leader, Kesha and her fictitious disciples raid a hamlet in rural Mexico, engaging in various forms of sexual debauchery.[49][50] According to Billboard, the video is a shout-out to the Illuminati.[50] Occult symbols ubiquitously associated with the secret society such as the all-seeing eye of Horus, inverted crosses, pentagrams, and triangles pervade the video.[50] Calling the imagery "blatant", Billboard reviewed the video as "tak[ing] the singer's button-pushing ability to dizzying new heights."[50] Sending text messages to her "Animals" (an affection title bestowed on her fans)[51] in the video, Kesha writes: "We made it… SOUTH OF THE BORDER… they'll never find us here".[50]

Live performances[edit]

Kesha has declared that it is important for her, with Warrior and her live performances of "Die Young", to display her vocal ability due to the backlash she has received about using excessive auto-tune.[52][53] Kesha first performed "Die Young" on October 29, 2012 in El Rey Theatre.[54] Emily Zemler of The Hollywood Reporter reviewed the performance, blogging: "If pop music demands an element of theatrical presentation, then Ke$ha angled toward a literal interpretation of her raucous, sexualized pop songs".[55] DJed by Herick Hell, Kesha performed various other songs including "Party at a Rich Dude's House", "Cannibal", and "We R Who We R".[55] Clad in a rhinestone one-piece, Kesha wore a gold diadem while being carried by muscular cabana boy look-a-likes.[55] The set was rife with green laser beams and giant artificial phalli.[55] On November 6, 2012, Kesha made the song's first televised performance on The X Factor Australia's fourth season.[49][56] On November 20, 2012, Kesha performed "Die Young" at The Today Show in New York, NY.[52] The performance was held in the Rockefeller Plaza, and she wore a camouflage leotard adorned with an upside cross and rainbow-colored paper flowers.[52] Along with "Die Young", she performed her other smash hits, "Blow" and "We R Who We R".[52] Billboard congratulated "Die Young"'s performance at the American Music Awards of 2012 as being one of the five best performances that night.[57] On December 4, 2012, Kesha performed "Die Young" at the late-night show Conan.[58] For the music journal, Jason Lipshutz wrote:

"Ke$ha's performance of new single "Die Young" was resoundingly Ke$ha-esque: there were flashing neon lasers, skeleton drummer-dancers, an inexplicable headdress at the beginning and a totally explicable crotch-grab in the middle. With blonde pigtails running across her shoulders and black leather boots hiked up to her knees, Ke$ha was often carried on the shoulders of shirtless men with a look of unabashed joy on her face – a fitting image for a single about shirking tomorrow's responsibilities for carnal impulses."[57]

In popular culture[edit]

The song was featured in the film Neighbors and appears on its soundtrack.[59] And Video Games Of Just Dance 4 Just Dance 2014 And Just Dance 2015 By Ubisoft

Ke$ha's official music video for the song that was released on November 8, 2012 was successful and as of June 1, 2018, the video has 131.3 million views on YouTube.

The YouTube user Vivziepop created an animated music video version of the song that was released on October 30, 2014; the video has garnered much praise and has been viewed over 38.4 million times as of June 1, 2018.

Formats and track listings[edit]

Digital download[60]
  1. "Die Young" – 3:33
Germany/UK single[61]
  1. "Die Young" – 3:40
  2. "Die Young" (Instrumental)  – 3:33
Digital remix[62]
  1. "Die Young" (Remix) (featuring Juicy J, Wiz Khalifa & Becky G) – 4:02

Credits and personnel[edit]

  • Songwriting – Kesha Sebert, Nate Ruess, Lukasz Gottwald, Henry Walter, Benjamin Levin,
  • Production, instruments, and programming – Dr. Luke, Benny Blanco, Cirkut

Credits adapted from the liner notes on BMI.[2]



Region Certification Certified units/Sales
Australia (ARIA)[107] 3× Platinum 210,000^
Canada (Music Canada)[108] Platinum 80,000^
Denmark (IFPI Denmark)[109] Gold 15,000^
Germany (BVMI)[110] Gold 150,000^
Italy (FIMI)[111] Platinum 30,000*
Mexico (AMPROFON)[112] Platinum 60,000*
New Zealand (RMNZ)[113] Platinum 15,000*
South Korea (Gaon Chart) 240,300[114]
Sweden (GLF)[115] Platinum 40,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[116] Gold 400,000^
United States 2,900,000[30]
Venezuela[117] 2× Platinum 40,000^

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone

Release history[edit]

Purchasable release[edit]

Country Date Format
United States September 25, 2012 Digital download
Australia September 26, 2012
New Zealand
Europe November 18, 2012
United Kingdom November 25, 2012
Germany[118] November 23, 2012 CD single

Radio adds[edit]

Country Date Format
United States October 2, 2012 Top 40/Mainstream radio[119]
Rhythmic radio[119]
Italy[120][121] October 5, 2012 Contemporary hit radio
November 30, 2012 - (Remix version feat. Juicy J, Wiz Khalifa, and Becky G)


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  120. ^ [1][dead link]
  121. ^ [2][dead link]

External links[edit]