$uper$tar Ke$ha Top$ Chart$ Ke$ha's debut album has sold more than 150,000 copies in its first week. Here, the pop star talks about her success and tells the stories behind her songs.

$uper$tar Ke$ha Top$ Chart$

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(Soundbite of song, "Tik Tok")

Ms. KE$HA SEBERT (Singer): (Singing) Wake in the morning feeling like P. Diddy...

P. DIDDY: Hey, what up, girl?

Ms. SEBERT: (Singing) ...got my glasses, I'm out the door. I'm gonna hit this city. Before I leave, brush my teeth with a bottle of Jack, 'cause when I leave for the night I ain't coming back.


The pop world has a new sensation.

(Soundbite of song, "Tik Tok")

Ms. SEBERT: (Singing) Don't stop, make it pop, DJ, blow my speakers up, tonight, I'm a fight, 'til we see the sunlight. Tick tock on the clock, but the party don't stop, no, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh. Don't stop...

SIMON: That's Ke$ha, with her hit song "Tik Tok." Rolling Stone has called her music repulsive, obnoxious and ridiculously catchy.

(Soundbite of song, "Tik Tok")

Ms. SEBERT: (Singing) The party don't start 'til I walk in.

SIMON: Whatever it is, it's number one on the charts - Ke$ha has replaced Susan Boyle. "Tik Tok" is taken from her debut album, "Animal," that sold over 150,000 copies. She's been called the first breakout star of 2010. Ke$ha Sebert joins us from our studios in New York. Thanks so much for being with us.

Ms. SEBERT: Thanks so much for having me.

SIMON: First, how do you like a description like Rolling Stone's? Let me read again - repulsive, obnoxious and ridiculously catchy.

Ms. SEBERT: I think it's funny. I think that I have then captured myself pretty accurately because I can be obnoxious. I don't think I'm necessarily repulsive, except for I haven't showered in a few days. But ridiculously catchy? I'm way into that part.

SIMON: Well, I can't tell that you haven't showered in a few days so...

(Soundbite of laughter)

SIMON: You kind of grew up in the music business. The creative part, if you please, the behind-the-sheet-of-music part, as opposed to the performing part. What led you to the stage, finally?

Ms. SEBERT: One of my first memories was, I was kind of like, looking up at my mom as she was performing.

SIMON: This is Pebe Sebert, your mother...

Ms. SEBERT: Um-hum. My mom.

SIMON: ...who wrote "Old Flames Can't Hold Candle to You."

Ms. SEBERT: Yeah, that was recorded by - I dont know if you know this; you probably do - but Johnny Cash and Dolly Parton and Merle Haggard. So she's just an incredible writer - and person. And when I would go to high school, I'd come home and for fun, we would write songs together. So...

SIMON: This is in Nashville?

Ms. SEBERT: Um-hmm.

SIMON: Yeah.

Ms. SEBERT: And I always knew it was what I wanted to do. I never really thought about having a...

(Soundbite of cell phone ringing)

Ms. SEBERT: I'm sorry.

SIMON: Is that your cell phone?

Ms. SEBERT: I thought I turned it off. Let me turn it off.

SIMON: How funny. There you are, a now-famous musician, that's your ringtone?

Ms. SEBERT: Yeah. I am such a space cadet...

SIMON: I mean, people are probably downloading some of your songs as their ringtone and you've got that little, you know, otherworldly Martian bleep.

Ms. SEBERT: I want to get a beeper. I'm sick of this technology.

(Soundbite of laughter)

SIMON: I dont know if you can get them anymore.

Ms. SEBERT: No. I want to look into it 'cause then nobody can bother me; they can just page me. Call them back. But anyways, I'm sorry about that. No. What I was just saying is music - I've never really believed in having a fallback plan, so just kind of - I always knew this was what I was going to do.

SIMON: Tell us about the song "Stephen" that was co-written by your mother.

Ms. SEBERT: I love that song.

SIMON: Well, why don't we listen to a little of it.

Ms. SEBERT: All right. Yeah.

(Soundbite of song, "Stephen")

Ms. SEBERT: (Singing) Stephen, why won't you call me? Stephen, why won't you call me? I saw you in your tight ass rocker pants. You saw me, too. I laughed, 'cause I was completely trashed. And I watched your ugly girlfriend sneer across the room, as if I really care that she's here with you...

SIMON: This song winds up being unexpectedly touching. I'll tell our audience, OK, who are obviously going to notice a couple of other properties before they take my word that it's touching. But it is.

Ms. SEBERT: Well, the song is really vulnerable. It's about a guy that I was completely obsessed with - and he would just not give me the time of day - and being so frustrated over it. The chorus is Stephen, why won't you call me? I can't take rejection. Why won't you call me?

(Soundbite of song, "Stephen")

Ms. SEBERT: (Singing) Stephen, why won't you call me? I'm sitting here waiting. Why won't you call me? Stephen, I'm feeling pathetic. I can't take rejection. Why won't you call me?

SIMON: Is his name actually Stephen?

Ms. SEBERT: Oh, yes.

SIMON: Ooh, my word.

Ms. SEBERT: I really think it's the best revenge.

SIMON: Boy, a best-selling album. So we can hope that Stephen is like, stacking the toilet tissue at Wal-Mart now, right?

Ms. SEBERT: Well, I mean, he's such a loser.

SIMON: Which is an honest job, don't get me wrong. And respectable, but yeah.

Ms. SEBERT: No. He's just such a loser. Like, looking back on my obsession, it's kind of like just so silly. It's just, he wouldn't call.

SIMON: Because this record's doing so well, do you have an investment, even at the age of 22, at continuing to do teenage music?

Ms. SEBERT: I think that with this record, I just want to make people happy. I realize that I'm getting a lot of slack because I'm a chick, and I brush my teeth with Jack. And that's so shocking but...

SIMON: You mean Jack Daniels?

Ms. SEBERT: That would be the one.

SIMON: Yeah. I just thought I'd ask. Okay. We're non-commercial here but if I may, Crest might be more effective.

Ms. SEBERT: I don't think it's as, like...

SIMON: I'm not sure Jack...

Ms. SEBERT: ...as anti-bacterial.

SIMON: ...I'm not sure Jack cuts down on tartar, if you get my drift.

Ms. SEBERT: I dont know about that, but I think it is an anti-bacterial, right?

SIMON: You know, I guess it is.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. SEBERT: There you go.

SIMON: Right.

Ms. SEBERT: Better than nothing.

SIMON: Well, you know, a lot of people listening to us now just might be on the verge of brushing their teeth so, you know...

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. SEBERT: Make the right choice.

SIMON: Yeah. Turn away from the medicine cabinet and go into the pantry. See if you can find a - well, I guess I have to say I'm kidding. In any event, let me just add that for the record.

Oh, talking about living like an animal, let's listen to "Backstabber," if we could.

(Soundbite of song, "Backstabber")

Ms. SEBERT: (Singing) Bored, stoned, sitting in your basement, all alone, 'cause your little conversation's got around, and look at what we all found out. Look at what we found. Lookie here, we all found out that you have got a set of loose lips, twisting stories all because you're jealous. Now I know exactly what you're all about. And this is what you're all about. Girl, you're such a backstabber...

SIMON: This is an angry song.

Ms. SEBERT: Well, it's not angry. It's more about chicks need to watch each other's backs. I feel like I treat my friends with so much respect, and they're like family. And when I'm wronged by somebody that is like, part of my family, it's rough. So I had to write a song about it.

(Soundbite of song, "Backstabber")

Ms. SEBERT: (Singing) I'm sick and tired of hearing all of my life from other people with all of your lies, wrapped up so tight, so maybe you should shut your mouth, shut your mouth, you never shut your mouth...

SIMON: I'm told you had just about perfect SAT scores.

Ms. SEBERT: It was close - 1,500. I was like, very studious. I was actually in the international baccalaureate program, in AP; I, like, loved physics and math, and I was in the marching band. And then after that practice, I would drive to Belmont - it's a college in Nashville - and just for fun, listen in on Cold War history classes, just 'cause - I just think it's so interesting.

And I was so curious kind of about all of that, I ended up taking my first solo trip to Cuba. So point being: I was very studious and really curious about a lot of things that are much deeper than, you know, partying and dancing.

SIMON: You've described this album, I gather, as celebrating - I'm going to read this now - boys, boots, beer, boobs.

Ms. SEBERT: It is a celebration. I think the whole record's kind of a celebration of fun and youth and life. I wrote every song on the record, and I've also written for other people as well. And so I'm really proud of this record. I wrote maybe over 200 songs.

SIMON: We're going to get some email saying: I don't listen to NPR to hear that kind of music.

I like you, and I like your music.

Ms. SEBERT: Thanks, and I like that. Because you know what? I just stand for fun. It's pop music; it's not rocket science. It's not brain surgery. And I'm going to stand by the fact that I'm proud of this record, and I'm not a moron. So there.

(Soundbite of song, "Animal")

Ms. SEBERT: (Singing) I am in love with what we are, not what we should be...

SIMON: Ke$ha, awfully nice talking to you.

Ms. SEBERT: Deal. Nice to talk to you, man. Thank you so much.

SIMON: Our pleasure. Ke$ha in New York. Her debut album, "Animal," out now and selling - well, like an animal.

Ms. SEBERT: Thanks.

(Soundbite of song, "Animal")

Ms. SEBERT: (Singing) So if it's just tonight, the animal inside, let it live and die. Like it's the end of time, like everything inside, let it live and die. This is our last chance...

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