Did Ke$ha’s Stage Show Rip Off The Residents?

By Liz Pelly / July 6, 2013

On her most recent tour, Ke$ha brought back-up dancers wearing oversized eyeball masks, tuxedos, and top hats. The costumes worn appear to be inspired by a long-running rock band, the Residents. But the Residents, and their fans, don’t see this as an homage — they feel that Ke$ha has totally ripped the band off. Ke$ha hasn’t commented on this, but is clearly a fan of the band, as she once wore a Residents t-shirt during an interview on MTV.

“They don’t know what to do,” Don Hardy, a documentarian who is working on a film about the Residents, told Yahoo Music. According to Hardy, the band feels that Ke$ha is “interfering with their intellectual property. Her people definitely didn’t call in to say, ‘Hey, can we use this?’ They’re debating what to do. One potential way to deal with it is to ask for a cease-and-desist and have attorneys sort it out. I think they’d rather see a different outcome, though. When you’re a smaller group, what do you do? If you file suit, people say, ‘Oh, it’s the small guys trying to get in on something big.’ It’s a no-win situation.”

“It could be a five-minute conversation,” Hardy continued, “if Ke$ha will acknowledge that the look came from the Residents and that she’s giving them a tip of the hat. Telling people, ‘If you’ve been to my show, it’s an homage’ might encourage some of her fans to check out the Residents, and the bigger win would be that bit of recognition … Residents fans are being negative to her, and that’s unfortunate. It’d be great to unite the two worlds somehow. There’s a subversive streak to everything she’s doing that seems different from a Katy Perry.”