Friday, July 7, 2017

Kesha turns pain into empowerment on Praying

By all reasonable standards, Kesha's comeback single, Praying is remarkable. Not just her vocal performance (I can't remember the last time a pop single was delivered with such conviction) but also in it's message of forgiveness.

By now, you know the story. Kesha established a reputation as the hard-partying, heavy-drinking wild child of pop through unapologetically brash songs like Tik Tok and Die Young. But behind the scenes, all was not well. In 2014 she sued her producer and label boss Dr Luke for unfair business practices, accusing him of emotional and sexual abuse. He counter-sued for defamation and breach of contract. The state of those court cases is, at best, unclear but the upshot is that Kesha is still contractually bound to Dr Luke's Kemosabe label.

If you ever wondered how difficult women find it to work in the music industry, this is the test case.

Still, with Dr Luke having stepped away from Kemosabe, Kesha is free to release music again via the label's parent company Sony. And all that pain and anguish pours into her new single, Praying.

It opens with the lines, “You almost had me fooled / Told me that I was nothing without you,” which recalls the text of her original complaint against Dr Luke. It alleged he told her, “You are not that pretty, you are not that talented" and "you are nothing without me".

Amazingly, though, the song isn't a straightforward attack, or even an attempt to tell her side of the story. Instead, it is a prayer for his soul.

"This song is about coming to feel empathy for someone else even if they hurt you or scare you,” Kesha wrote on the Lenny Letter website. “It's a song about learning to be proud of the person you are even during low moments when you feel alone. It's also about hoping everyone, even someone who hurt you, can heal.”

Co-written and produced by Ryan Lewis (of "Macklemore And" fame), Praying is a ridiculously overblown companion piece to Christina Aguilera's Beautiful - but Kesha's vocal saves it. Her unfiltered, bruised honesty will stop you in your tracks, even if you've no idea about the context.

Top tip: Listen to it before you watch the video which, while stunning, is a total distraction from the song.

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