This week I spent mesmerized behind a computer screen, watching both of Kesha’s new music videos on repeat with a lump in my throat. Praying and Woman are just two of the 14 tracks that make up Rainbow, her first album in 4 years, which is expected to drop August 11th.
Kesha, once known as Ke$ha, the “$” as a subtle nudge to how broke she was at the time (actually) has come a long way since she was brushing her teeth with a bottle of jack. Parents remember her as the provocative drunken pop star that sang about glitter, puke, and living while you’re young. Kesha has always been so much more than that.
The theme of Rainbow, is simply, healing and showing up for yourself.
Rainbow will be the first time Kesha has made new music since her ongoing public legal battle with former producer Dr. Luke started; whom she sued for alleged sexual assault and battery, sexual harassment, gender violence, and emotional abuse in 2014. Dr. Luke was never charged for any of these claims, and instead counter-sued Kesha for defamation and a breach of contract, therefore locking her into continuing to make music for him.
This new music is the first post Dr. Luke work Kesha has put out, after refraining from publicly commenting on her abusive relationship with Dr.Luke excessively. Rainbow was made by Kemosabe Records and produced by Ryan Lewis. Since of all this, Kesha has been open about her subsequent stints in rehab, her depression and anxiety, and struggling with an eating disorder.
Many critics simply thought she wouldn’t return to mainstream music after years of defeat and weighing trauma. Well, it’s 2017, and Kesha is triumphant and back to proudly say, “I just really fucking love being a woman and I wanted an anthem for anyone else who wants to yell about being self-sufficient and strong.”
Woman, by the way, was inspired as a response to Donald Trump’s infamous grabbing pussy comment, in case you needed another reason to love this song.
Praying is the more serious, power-ballad that’s vulnerability left me with smudged eyeliner. It’s about finding yourself in a place where you wish your enemies peace even after being dragged through hell.
The context of the song from the perspective of an abuse victim that forgives an abuser despite everything, only to wish them well and demand growth is heart-wrenching. This level of maturity is one I think we’d all like to claim post-relationship, but in reality, very rarely do things go down that way. This song brought me back to relationships that at the time I would have argued I had no part in ruining. It’s for hard me to wish someone well who also consciously chooses to excessively over-clarify that his shorts are Nantucket Red and not pink. The words “I hope you find your peace” and “I hope your soul is changing.” are honestly beautiful sentiments to wish upon an enemy.
Take Kesha’s words over mine. Rainbow is a funk-infused feminist album that 2017 needs. Kesha already wrote two powerful personal essays about it; one for Rolling Stone, and one for Lenny Letter. In her essay for Lenny, Kesha wrote that she channeled her feelings of hopelessness and depression into her music for strength and has discovered what she has described as an almost untainted level of peace. I could not be happier for her if I tried.
If you have a few extra minutes, I highly suggest watching this raw interview from The Elvis Duran show where Kesha reveals that she wasn’t sure if she was going to ever be able to make music again.
Rainbow drops August 11th, and until then I, along with the rest of the world, will impatiently wait and yell about being self-sufficient and strong.