Waking up to a new Kesha song is refreshing. Waking up to two new songs after the last five years is like a much awaited sunrise after a winter spent in the depths of the arctic. For those of us that have watched in horror as Kesha fought Dr. Luke (who is no longer at Sony Records) in courts, this new album marks the end of a tumultuous exploration of the chokehold that can ensue when a young woman becomes entangled not only in an abusive relationship, but the fallout when her own passions and career, are tied to that man’s purse-strings.
When the legal battle was new, some believed Kesha was simply lying to get out of her contract. An ever somber Kesha refused to back down. In an October, 2016 piece “Kesha, Interrupted” the star explained her grappling with the mental health fallout, a career that was no more, and her ever-growing wish to simply return to the music. The article chronicles the entire situation from Kesha’s point of view — a woman who wanted to shed her party clothes and show her true artistry. This piece not only introduced us to the woman behind the lawsuit — behind Tik Tok, and all the party imagery — it showed us the raw human being. It was this article that showcased the origins of Rainbow, her soon-to-be-released album.
“While she was in rehab, Kesha wrote a song called “Rainbow” on her tiny toy keyboard. Her mother had always told her that you could tell that a song was great if it could be sung against just one note and still sound good.”
At that time the future of Rainbow was in the air. Her tumultuous and on-going lawsuit meant that Dr. Luke owned the music for upcoming albums. We had to take Kesha’s word that her new music would be beautiful, inspired, and bring us to a world where suffering can inspire anthem.
While Rainbow has yet to drop, we have been blessed with the first two singles from Kesha’s album. “Praying”, aptly ending with the words “The beginning” is a song that I can’t get out of my head. The gritty vocals, the soft echoes of love that are woven through a voice that has seen pain, “Praying” is its own testament. Instead of anger, or releasing a frustrated cry after being penned up so long — Kesha chooses instead to spread her wings and unleash the musical torrent that one may never expected after a career that started with numbers such as “Cannibal” and “Tik Tok”. As Kesha ditched the dollar sign, we can see that she is also ditching the auto-tuned war-machine that is art-for-dollar.
“Praying” is so effective that even a piece about her battle with Dr. Luke no longer seems to be about him. This story is about a woman who has overcome her darkness, even if that darkness was a man, and has become something new. Through her pain Kesha has managed not only to make it to the other side, but to write something that resonates with every person that has felt shackled by a mental illness, trauma, or abuse. “Praying” strips the abuser of their power and says, “I am fine. I am happy.” Kesha teaches us a lesson that has been repeated since the dawn of time: forgiveness is our strongest power; it is healing.
As someone that spent most of my teen years with depression — Kesha’s music hits a chord. I feel her heart jump from the music, and I have yet to listen to “Praying” without tears strolling down my face. To quote the most poignant part of the song would be to simply send you a link. Every moment is emotional. Every word has its place in a song that leaves no question — Kesha’s strength has not come easily, but it has taken shape in a piece that is unquestionably art. Any criticism as to whether or not Kesha is a “real artist” is stripped away as she sings…
You brought the flames and you put me through hell
I had to learn how to fight for myself
And we both know all the truth I could tell
I'll just say this is I wish you farewell
If we thought Rainbow was going to be one powerful song backed by a few other slow and solemn numbers, we were in for a treat. The release of “Woman” shows that not only can Kesha show her emotional side — she can still write pieces that pay homage to her past — but with a twist. Instead of a party number, Kesha introduces us to a strong and powerful message. If “Praying” is about forgiveness, than “Woman” is about being unapologetic about self. “Praying” establishes that it’s okay to forgive those that have wronged you — but Woman lets us know that we needn’t lose ourselves to do so. We needn’t apologize for being strong and successful.
For all Kesha has been through, she has managed to come back in a way that’s infectious. Her belting, “I’m a motherfucking Woman” is enough to make us giggle, but really look in the mirror and realize that we can really thrive and find who we are when we accept ourselves and have our own instincts to fall back on. In an essay penned by Kesha, she says,
“It’s important for me that people know that there are a lot of emotions on my new album Rainbow - but the wild fun energy that first inspired me to perform has not, and will never, go away. I’m still a motherfuckerrr.”
As we await the release of Rainbow, one thing is clear, Kesha is back and after going through the flames, she’s on fire.
Rainbow is set to be released on August 11, 2017, by Kemosabe and RCA Records.