Ke$ha has been restricted from creating new music, let alone releasing it, for years. She’s been in a legal battle with a former producer and her record company over allegations he abused and exploited her. The record company refused to let her out of her contract, which forbade her from creating new music with anyone else and she refused to work with him.
In 2014, she took Dr. Luke, her producer, to court for sexual and emotional abuse. He countersued with his own allegations of defamation and breach of contract.
Finally, in April, Dr. Luke was ousted from Kemosabe Records and it was reported that Sony, its parent company, was planning to cut all ties with him.
Ke$ha has stoked support and public outrage, utilizing social media to document her personal journey through the various suits and struggles as well as her inability to do what she loves: create music. She has released song covers on Instagram and performed some at music festivals. The hashtag “FreeKesha” has had its trending moments in response to her struggles to break free from Dr. Luke and his company.
Now, finally, she has released her first single in 5 years and announced that it will soon be followed by an entire album.
The single, “Praying,” is the first off the album which will reportedly be called Rainbow.
Ke$ha wrote about the single and the album for Lena Dunham’s Lenny Letter “this song is about coming to feel empathy for someone else even if they hurt you or scare you…It’s a song about learning to be proud of the person you are even during low moments when you feel alone.”
Comparisons are already cropping up to Beyonce’s recent hyper-personal album, Lemonade, which shined a spotlight on Beyonce’s relationship with Jay-Z and his alleged infidelities.
“Praying” was released as a video, which you can view below. This promises to be a different style of album with different content than “the dive bar party anthems” she’s known for.
“Am I dead?” She opens in voice-over. “If I’m alive, why? Why, if there is a God or whatever. Something. Somewhere. Why have I been abandoned by everyone and everything I’ve ever known?”
The video ends with Ke$ha in a flowing rainbow dress, walking on water as a whale swims ahead of her, both moving toward the sunset. The words “the beginning” flash across the screen in place of the expected “the end.” The message is optimistic in its visuals and even forgiving as she hopes those who have hurt her are somewhere on their knees “praying.”
According to Vox, Ke$ha “stages her own funeral” in the video, drawing more parallels to the aesthetics and themes in the visual version of Lemonade. She “even strolls across the screen swinging a baseball bat.”
This leads Vox to conclude that the similarities are too distracting and diluting to the clearly super-personal message Ke$ha is trying to send now that she can finally send any message at all. The parallels to Lemonade don’t go too far past the opening of the video, as the “song becomes something much more intense and weird and furious and hopeful—something that feels much more like Kesha herself.”
The opening speech is a bit dramatic, but is clearly meant to speak to people like her who have been abused and abandoned, not taken seriously in their allegations, and trapped by something or someone or both. The lyrics are a far cry from other response lyrics like Rihanna’s “Bitch Better Have My Money,” with the semi-threatening video to match the sentiment allegedly railed against her accountant.
Lemonade had a range of emotion as well, with Beyonce moving through nostalgia, anger, violence, defeat, sadness, lust, joy and more. It seems likely Ke$ha will take her opportunity to express her frustration and anger in the accompanying album.
It’s a big moment in the music industry regardless of style or aesthetic choice. What do you think of the video and song from the finally freed artist?