Kesha’s ‘Cannibal’: Her Mom Blamed the Jeffrey Dahmer Lyric on a Computer Program

TL;DR:

  • Kesha’s “Cannibal” mentions Jeffrey Dahmer.
  • Kesha’s mother said the song was not actually about cannibalism.
  • The song was a response to the way men treated the singer.
Jeffrey Dahmer's mugshot
Jeffrey Dahmer | Curt Borgwardt / Contributor

Sometimes, music doesn’t inspire controversy until years after its release. For example, Kesha’s “Cannibal” recently sparked controversy for referencing Jeffrey Dahmer. In a TikTok, Kesha’s mother said the lyric only existed because of a software program.

Kesha’s ‘Cannibal’ mentions Jeffrey Dahmer because of a software program called MasterWriter

Dahmer was a notorious serial killer and cannibal. In 2022, Netflix released the show Dahmer – Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story, bringing Dahmer back into the headlines. Kesha’s 2010 song “Cannibal” includes the lyric “Be too sweet and you’ll be a goner / Yup, I’ll pull a Jeffrey Dahmer.”

Kesha co-wrote “Cannibal” with her mother, Pebe Sebert. Sebert is most known for co-writing Dolly Parton’s “Old Flames Can’t Hold a Candle to You.” According to Billboard, Sebert posted a TikTok on October 2, 2022, explaining why “Cannibal” references Dahmer.

“At the time, Kesha and the other writer were too young to even know who Jeffrey Dahmer was,” Sebert said. “Literally the way it happened was I have this rhyming program called MasterWriter for songwriters. We were looking for a rhyme for ‘goner.’ At the very end of the widest rhymes was ‘Jeffrey Dahmer.’ And I was like, ‘Oh my God, that’s the perfect lyric.'”

Kesha’s mom said ‘Cannibal’ is not about committing acts of cannibalism like Jeffrey Dahmer

Subsequently, Sebert revealed “Cannibal” wasn’t actually about cannibalism. “At the time, it was a song that we were writing about Kesha,” she said. “Kesha was not the most popular girl in high school. She ended up not even getting asked to the prom. Later on, when she got famous, all these guys that, you know, never paid any attention to her were coming around and like, ‘Remember me? Remember me?’

“And she was like, ‘Yeah, now that I’m famous you’re up my anus,'” Sebert added. “It was a tongue-in-cheek, funny song. It was not actually about cannibalism. It was just a title.” Sebert said she didn’t want to be insensitive to anyone who lost a loved one to Dahmer.

Pebe Sebert and Kesha smiling
Pebe Sebert and Kesha | Ilya S. Savenok / Contributor
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How the song and its parent album performed on the pop charts in the United States

“Cannibal” became a minor hit in the United States. The song reached No. 77 on the Billboard Hot 100. “Cannibal” only lasted on the chart for one week.

The tune appeared on Kesha’s EP of the same name. Cannibal reached No. 15 on the Billboard 200 and stayed on the chart for 33 weeks. To date, Cannibal is Kesha’s most commercially successful EP in the U.S., outperforming the singer’s later acoustic EP Deconstructed.

“Cannibal” includes some provocative lyrics but Sebert said she didn’t want the song to be disrespectful.