KESHA'S NEW NEW + WHY YOU SHOULD CARE
by anna montie
When you think about Kesha circa 2010-2012, she was a girl who was tough, in charge of her own life, empowered, carefree, and especially exciting. Considering her albums were literally titled “Animal”, “Cannibal”, and “Warrior”, there was a great deal of assumed independence there. Unfortunately, though, we now know that that’s evidently not how her personal life was panning out.
I genuinely don’t want to focus this post on the harsh instances involved in this whole ordeal that has been happening between Dr. Luke and Kesha over the years, but the existence of that interpersonal rift is what gives her new album, “Rainbow”, such considerable credibility and power. For reference, Dr. Luke is a producer that works with Sony Records, and co-founded the label known as Kemosabe Records with Sony, which Kesha has been signed to since the beginning of her career. Kesha sued Dr. Luke on a plethora of charges, including sexual assault and battery, sexual harassment, gender violence, and emotional abuse. Dr. Luke filed a countersuit for defamation.
After years of unrecognized physical and emotional manipulation, came years of torturous legal and mental maltreatment. Eventually though, it was determined that this case, although important to Kesha, was not worth the constant degradation of her own self-assuredness and individuality. She never won her case against Dr. Luke, nor could she obtain the opportunity to vacate her contract, which basically kept her bound to the man she was trying desperately to sidestep. Although Sony has claimed that they were completely willing to facilitate work between Kesha and any new producer, they felt obligated to honor the contractual agreement that tied Kesha to Kemosabe Records for the fulfillment of the contract. In this case, that contract maintains that Kesha is to provide at least 6 albums under the Kemosabe name. Dr. Luke is not accredited as a producer on the album, and was fired as CEO of Kemosabe in April 2017, although he is still actively involved at Sony.
For someone who pretty effortlessly paved their way to fame on the assumption of her own personal liberation, it was sobering for fans and other artists to discover the bitter reality Kesha had been grappling with for years. Alas, ultimate sadness somehow cultivates abundant creativity, and Kesha went to town writing new music for whatever her next album would be in spite of tumultuous times.
Although her legal battles have been hanging over her head for quite some time, she has constructed an album that is without a doubt her most sonically dynamic and emotionally transparent work. “Rainbow” kicked off its release with the single, “Praying”, which is all I had to hear to be compelled to write this post. It’s a chill-inducing message to her abuser as she, in effect, turns the other cheek and relinquishes her overwhelming desire to try to control his fate. It’s a good song, but given the context, it’s seriously a work of art IMO.
Musicians have the undeniable ability to utilize this universally-praised medium in order to affect their audience, and reach them in ways that can change their lives, or at least change their mood that day. Despite not being able to speak conversationally, the words that an artist chooses to pair with their music can bring real comfort to people who may not have even been asking for it. This attribute was clearly used carefully and purposefully by Kesha in the creation of this album.
This album flitters about the range of genres in a big way. These genre jumps aren’t a problem for me, given the context. It’s been five years since her last release, and it’s no secret she’s gone through many different trials. Different trials call for different comforts in all facets, including music. When I moved away for a summer and missed Texas, I listened to more country music than I have collectively in my entire life. When I need to increase my confidence, the effects of A$AP Rocky are irrefutable. There’s never a time when a Jim Croce song won’t make me cry- due to some sort of overwhelming sense of nostalgia that is not tangibly connected to anything in my life. Kesha’s been through an array of mental and emotional states in the past five years, and has most likely had tremendous influences from vastly different ends of the musical spectrum, a few of which obviously made a direct impact on the album. Especially the sounds and sweetness associated with country music, as this Nashville native clearly wanted to reconnect with her roots.
This album is vastly different from all of the work that Kesha has put out in the past. My high school years were the peak of Kesha’s early successes, and seeing her live was as coveted as it was laughable. She was fun, but wasn’t considered a “real” musician or one that was widely respected by any means. This album obliterates those sentiments. If you have any outstanding judgements as to who Kesha is as a person and/or an artist- lose them. There are so few similarities with this album and the others; “good” or “bad” aside, they’re just incomparable. This not only exemplifies how drastically a person can change over the course of just a few years, but also, and more importantly, it is a testament to the strength someone can garner despite overbearing obstacles and oppressive amounts of pressure from all sides. This album is a piece that, love it or hate it, deserves respect. It is purely honest.
Relinquishing control over struggling situations or letting go of losing battles is easier said than done. This album is a very public and very clear account of someone who has effectively done so and is living in color.
^ Check out the dreamy music video for her single "learn to let go" above ^
Anna Montie, Author
I'm Anna! I live in the very cool city of Dallas, TX and am looking forward to working with this cute, cute team of people. I care a lot about music and the culture that surrounds it, and am excited to have an excuse to write about such things. Here's to hoping I am able to write things worth reading and sharing.
Kat Harris, Graphics
My name is Kat Harris, and I'm from Dallas, TX. I go to the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, and I am a Graphic Design and Advertising/Public Relations double major. I love music and have a serious habit of making playlists (so check out my Spotify --Kathryn Harris). Some of my favorite bands are Rainbow Kitten Surprise, Local Natives, and The Temper Trap. I’m interested in photography, design, and really anything art-related. I love to find inspiration in everything I do and strive to be constantly creating and expressing myself!