Out from the shadows appears a woman–one we have seen before, but this time, in a whole new light. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know about the lawsuit dilemma(s) between Kesha and her kind of current, mostly former music producer Dr. Luke. In case you call a rock your home, here’s a short recap:
In 2014, Kesha filed a lawsuit against Dr. Luke after news surfaced that Dr. Luke had allegedly sexually assaulted Kesha, with and without her consent–this lawsuit came about just months after fan-made petitions to drop her from RCA Records due to belief that Dr. Luke was censoring music, including her album Warrior. Dr. Luke then counter-sued, claiming defamation against Luke by Kesha’s lawyer, Mark Geragos. In 2015, Kesha stormed New York Fashion Week with a dress stating “You Will Never Own Me”, and ever since, Kesha’s struggle for freedom from RCA and Dr. Luke has been documented in the public eye.
Since this fiasco in the public eye, our beloved artist no longer has to succumb to the muse of her prior label, (Dr. Luke is no longer at Sony), and may now produce music as she pleases, without unneeded and unwanted censorship behind the songs that matter for her new album, the lyrics that mean something to her–out of this newfound freedom rises Kesha’s first post-lawsuit single from her upcoming album Rainbow, Praying. The song acts as a blow to her demons and an open door for her future, wherever it takes her–in and out of the spotlight.
As there is so much beauty to the meaning of the song, it is only fair that we save the best for last and speak of the technicalities to the tune first.
In the past, the only music with the Kesha (previously Ke$ha) brand heard on the radio consisted of party tunes about drinking, sex, and glitter. Praying gives us a much-needed breath of fresh air, bringing us, as listeners, a new sound and empowering lyrics to anyone who pays attention. This sound is prominent in the vocals of the single; Kesha hits notes that no one knew possible, following suit to Ariana Grande’s earlier hits with a whistle note in the second half of the song. She has literally never sounded stronger as a vocalist, and I can’t wait to see what comes next after her initial two-single release.
As for length, Praying comes in at just short of four minutes, with a long, and sometimes overly repetitive, bridge and chorus that takes a majority of the song; meaning is important, but so is lyrical diversity, and it seems as though this single has fallen short on the latter.
Finally, price–the label and streaming services have, fortunately, made the ultimate decision to keep the album affordable–this presumably suffixes assumptions that the album will at least hit platinum status, as most comeback albums, or singles, do. On Amazon, the MP3 version of Rainbow is just $9.99 for preorder, and the physical copy is $11.78. For you vinyl lovers, however, you’ll be forking up a little over $20 for this one–but free shipping with Prime, right? Apple users will find that the single is $1.29, but if you are like the majority of Gen Z listeners, you’ll be using Spotify or Apple Music, which makes the album practically free for subscribers, with student pricing as low as $4.99 a month.
On the subject of hidden meaning for the song, you won’t find any. The song is straight forward in its empowerment for Kesha in her battle against depression, the struggle of being a woman in the spotlight, and foremost, Dr. Luke. Praying, albeit, is not a diss track–you will not find any name dropping or hints within the music video, and it was never intended to be that way. We are shown through lyrics and interpretation that the artist will now be focusing on what matters most–herself. This song is something to be proud of as a woman, an artist, and a victim who wants to be seen as more.
Lastly, I’d like to touch on the music video. Unfortunately, Kesha hasn’t dropped the cultural appropriation, specifically of Native American tribes, that she was known for during the Warrior era. This problem is one perpetuated by more artists than one, and as influential as Kesha is to a multitude of coexisting people, I wish that she would be the one to stop the trend, and realize that the practice is anything other than trendy.
If you’re interested in learning more about cultural appropriation and how Kesha is continuing to perpetuate the harmful practice, check out this article: http://culture.affinitymagazine.us/its-time-to-call-out-keshas-cultural-appropriation/
It is a seriously great and educational read.
Aside from the issue presented above, the music video for the single is visually stunning, and captivates watchers and listeners with settings that feel, as they should, free. It is crystal clear that the producers of the video took into account the original meaning of the song and created a visual journey through that meaning, specifically for Kesha; I include specifically not because we ought not appreciate it, but because we have to understand who the song is written for–it is not our place to take that away from the artist and create selfishness amongst the intended purpose. That said, the video creates a landscape that we all can appreciate, and we certainly do.
As expected from a new release after nearly half a decade, Praying has a few bumps in the road. As more of the album is brought into the light, I expect we will see an improved image, sound, and person in the Kesha we know and love. Here’s to praying for new beginnings.