“In such heedful fleeing lies the flight from death, that is, a looking away from the end of being-in-the-world. This looking away from … is in itself a mode of the ecstatic, futural being toward the end.”
– Martin Heidegger, Being and Time
I’m not sure if I’m the only one, but rather than finding it bubbly or enthusiastic, I’ve always thought Ke$ha’s “Tik Tok” was an incredibly anxious song. Its temporality seems to refer to that most disturbing kind of party that doesn’t have the endurance to have occurred, the kind that goes straight from inception to ending. The Party Unto Death.
“Tik Tok” begins with anticipation: she “brushes her teeth” (albeit with a bottle of Jack) “’cause when [she leaves] for the night [she] ain’t coming back.” Ke$ha goes through a comparatively lengthy examination of her preparation (pedicures on her toes, trying on her clothes, boys on phones, etc.) for the party that she predicts will not end. The first phrase of the chorus (“Don’t stop”) is then a surprise non-sensical injunction. How can we stop that which has yet to start? The titular refrain “tik tok” is an unceasing reminder of finitude even though “the party don’t stop,” the second time the command not to stop appears in a 29-word chorus.
The most revealing lyrical juxtaposition may be the song’s most famous: “The party don’t start ’til I walk in/Don’t stop…” Upon entering a party for which she has been preparing until this point, a party that does not exist as such until her appearance, Ke$ha’s first command is not to stop what has only begun through this order which is her commencing entrance. The performative utterance that brings the Party Unto Death into being also announces its end. So although she insists on the party’s infinite duration – or commands it – Ke$ha does so through constant reference to its finitude (e.g. “Now, now, we go until they kick us out, out/Or the police shut us down, down.”) Her “looking away from” is really a look “toward the end.” The clock’s “tik tok” is the sound of a slow inevitable dying that constitutes the Party Unto Death since its beginning.