It’s been four years since Kesha (formally Ke$ha) released a new single. Four years since the glitter-loving, pop chameleon released a summer jam that guaranteed a great night out. Four years since she revealed that her stage persona and her real-life self had been clashing. Four years since the girl we all considered to be “wild” told us that she was, for lack of a better term, normal.
I fell in love with Kesha the first time I heard “Tik Tok.” I went to her Get Sleazy tour. I desperately tried to get my hair to have that wild wave to it. I found a new appreciation for glitter. I felt like she was the fun-loving big sister I never had. She was the epitome of someone who was in the limelight but didn’t take everything seriously.
When I heard about the suit against Dr. Luke in 2014, it was at a time where sexual assault had reared its ugly head in my own life as well. If you don’t already know, I study sexual assault and following the case quickly became one of the most frustrating and exhausting experiences for any survivor.
To summarize briefly, Kesha entered a lawsuit with Sony Music and Dr. Luke regarding how Dr. Luke ‘”sexually, physically, verbally, and emotionally abused [Kesha] to the point where [she] nearly lost her life.”’ She wanted to be free of her abuser in both a professional and personal setting. Dr. Luke denied the claims and sued her right back. In short, this case involves a pop icon, a $60 million investment in her career, and her want to record freely.
Remember this photo? Spoiler alert: the judge did not rule in her favor.
After the trial Kesha went off the grid. Despite the support from her boyfriend and fellow celebrities, she was being hounded by the press and called a liar, a whore, and a slew of other unimaginable things. She played a few small shows at universities, but hadn’t released any new music.
When I woke up this morning I clicked on my Youtube subscriptions to see if anything was up. My jaw dropped when I saw Kesha in my feed. I immediately clicked and was taken on a journey that I didn’t know I wanted, but that somehow needed.
The spoken word intro sent chills down my spine. I knew then that I was watching a rebirth, a phoenix rising from the utter bullshit. However, it’s not a typical “fuck you” ballad. It’s sensitive. It explores hopelessness, anger, depression, and most importantly, the hope that everyone, even those who have caused harm, can heal. It shows the contrast of fighting your nightmares on Salvation Mountain while having wings but instead choosing to walk. It is a song of quiet power and overwhelming strength that is executed with beautiful visuals.
“Praying” isn’t a summer bop. It’s not a club dance track. It’s raw and real and allows Kesha’s voice to finally shine through without all the autotune. Not unlike Lady Gaga’s “Till it Happens to You,” “Praying” showcases the hurt, pain and fight to come back. It makes you realize how strong this woman is, how much of a fighter she has become and how severely she was underestimated.