Kesha takes her broken heart and makes a rainbow
by Brian Moniz
It’s been several months since international pop star Kesha released her new album, Rainbow, after losing a major controversial legal battle against her former music producer Lukasz Gottwald. Gottwald, also known by his stage name “Dr. Luke”, was accused of drugging, raping, and verbally, mentally, and physically harassing Kesha over the last ten years of her career. Without going into too much detail, Kesha lost in court and is now ordered, under contract, to complete two more albums with Dr. Luke. Rather than acquiesce to defeat and allow her career to go down in flames, Kesha has come back stronger and louder than ever, using her musical talents to rip Dr. Luke to shreds and send the world a message loud and clear: THIS WILL NOT BREAK ME!
In her first new single, Praying, Kesha gives us a slow power-ballad which comes as a huge change of pace from her usual flashy, catchy, fun songs such as Tik-Tok, Die Young, or We R Who We R, and jumps head-first into her feelings of frustration, embarrassment, and regret. Praying could not be more of a direct slap in the face to Gottwald; and Kesha sings every word with as much passion and heart as she can muster up. She sings:
“I’m proud of who I am. No more monsters, I can breathe again. And you said that I was done, but you were wrong, and now the best is yet to come! Because I can make it on my own, and I don’t need you, I found a strength I’ve never known! /…/ When I’m finished, they won’t even know your name. You brought the flames and you put me through hell. I had to learn how to fight for myself. And we both know all the truth, I can tell. I’ll just say this, ‘I wish you farewell’. I hope you’re somewhere praying! I hope your soul is changing! I hope you find your peace, falling on your knees, praying!”
What makes Rainbow such a strong album is the way Kesha flips the switch after Praying and moves on to singing about her own recovery. She already raked Dr. Luke over the coals, and rather than give him any more of her time and energy, she moves on with songs like Learn to Let Go, which could arguably be her best song ever. Here, she sings about the courage and strength it takes to move on, not let the past anchor you down, and how if she can get over a tragedy like the one she’s had to endure, then you have the strength to as well. The music video for this track is just as fun and uplifting as the song, with Kesha showing us clips of her as a little girl dancing in her pajamas, playing with sock puppets, and recreating that same childishly-fun choreography in the music video as an adult. In Learn to Let Go she sings:
“Been a prisoner of the past. Had a bitterness when I looked back. Telling everyone it’s not that bad, till all my s**t hit the fan. /…/ Your happy ending is up to you! I think it’s time to practice what I preach, exorcise the demons inside me, gotta learn to let it go! The past can’t haunt me if I don’t let it! Live and learn, I’ll never forget it! Gotta learn to let it go!
Kesha invites us into her world of pain and suffering, but then cuts it short to show us that this ugly chapter in her life is just that — one chapter! Not the whole story, and certainly not what will define her. Kesha’s new album, much like Beyonce’s Lemonade album, is bigger than itself — it’s a statement. Rather than hide in the shadows until this all blows over, Kesha chooses instead to make the best of a bad situation not only to prove that she’s a strong, independent, beautiful woman, but to show everyone else who’s ever been harassed, violated, or abused that there is always a rainbow at the end of a hurricane.
Kesha makes herself a symbol to people everywhere that one tragedy in your life does not have to define who you are. If she can triumph over being raped and harassed, have that dirty laundry aired over every newspaper, website and magazine in the world, lose her court battle, and still keep her life moving in a positive direction, then why can’t we learn to let go of our own problems? Use your tragic chapter in life as inspiration and motivation to create something beautiful. Kesha proves that strength is not about how many times you get knocked down, but about how many times you can get back up afterwards. Your happy ending is up to you!
About the Author:
Brian Moniz is a 29-year-old man from San Jose, Calif. He studied filmmaking and writing at San Jose State University from 2010–2013 and got his bachelor’s degree in Radio-TV-Film. Throughout his high school and college years, he worked as a music and movie journalist and critic. Having only recently come out of the closet himself in 2014, Brian enjoys writing about LGBTQ issues. His only regret when it comes to his sexuality is that he didn’t come out sooner. Read more by Brian here.