When Kesha burst onto the scene in 2010, she wasn’t singing hymns about finding your true self, or the journey one must go on. She was singing party-animal anthems about the hedonistic lifestyle of a 20-something year old in the 00’s. Formerly stylized as Ke$ha, the singer garnered herself an infamous reputation as pop’s number one party girl by producing what could only be described as a repertoire of teen disco anthems. You had Tik-Tok as your ringtone at one time or another. Don’t lie. Now, with the release of her third album this weekend, Kesha is still celebrating life – armed with a defined sense of self.
The story of Kesha is a public one. She signed a record deal at 18, released her first album at 23, and shot into stardom ever since. Her persona was initially polarizing. Some found her intentional lack of authenticity to be charming, while other saw it to be unsophisticated, and vapid. Yet, one thing couldn’t be denied – her music was fun. There was a sense that whatever Ke$ha was doing, she was enjoying it. As if life, to her, was solely something to be celebrated. Yet, at the pinnacle of her career, this celebration came to a halt. In late 2014, it emerged that Kesha filed a lawsuit against her producer, Dr. Luke, for allegations of gender violence and sexual assault. Thus began the very controversial, very public, battle which spanned almost 3 years – coming to a head in late 2016, when Judge Shirley Kornreich rejected all of Kesha’s claims against Dr Luke. Pictures of the singer weeping during the testimony exploded onto social media. These images didn’t depict a liar, they showed someone completely defeated and left behind. However, instead of turning her music into an agent of her victimhood, the singer began anew – using her music to tell the story of a woman consumed by darkness, only to become the light.
Rainbow’s lead single, “Praying” is somber, proud, and reflective. Unlike anything we’ve heard from the singer, the ballad showcases the distinctive stylistic shift in Kesha’s music. “I’m proud of who I am”, the singer laments in the second verse. The song is raw in its emotional depth, and fits perfectly as the album’s lead. While there are definite similarities with her previous albums, notably songs such as Let ‘Em Talk, and Boots, the album’s strength lay in its differentiation of her old style, and new self. Songs like Hymn, and more so the title track, Rainbow, where Kesha peels back the veil of party girl, show an incredible determination to be happy. The album itself resembles her own emotional journey – a roller-coaster. The vulnerability of some songs will almost bring a tear to your eye, while songs like Learn To Let Go will have you jumping around your bedroom dancing. Without falling under the weight of its own message, the album can be summed in one word – victorious.
We all go through incredible hardship in life. It’s a part of human nature, and necessary for growth. Yet, the majority of us don’t go through this under the scrutiny of the public eye. Kesha’s Rainbow is a testament to the resilience of the human spirit. Even though we all must go through this darkness, there is always light, always color. While you may not be a fan of her music, or her image, her new album is something to be respected. To go through something so damaging, and so real can only destroy a person. It takes a lot of strength to be happy, and to find light. If Kesha has taught us one thing – it’s that from great hardship, comes great beauty. As she proclaims;
Now, I see, that colors are everything.
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