Kesha was originally a Nashville musician, but her label chose her more faster-paced pop tracks as her sole focus. Her former producer, Dr. Luke, even encouraged rapping and higher-pitched vocal lines, leading to Kesha Sebert becoming “Ke$ha,”a platinum recording pop artist. Songs like “Tik Tok,” “Your Love is My Drug,” and “We R Who We R” portrayed a reckless party girl akin to the next generations Madonna, Britney, Pink, Lady Gaga, etc. Her songs detailed non-stop ragers, brushing your teeth with Jack Daniels, and oh so much glitter.
In reality however, Kesha wasn’t the young-and-dumb heedless deviant that she was in her music. She’s fairly intelligent in interviews and is very aware of the image she represented. It’s a style and look in pop music that has very thankfully departed, as similar sounding artists of the Dr. Luke era such as Katy Perry, Lady Gaga, Miley Cyrus, Rihanna, and others, have all gone done very different paths sonically (well, maybe not Katy).
It’s been a whole other round of trials (literally) and tribulations for Kesha, as she had been unable to release music for five years while she was locked in legal battles over sexual and emotional abuse with her former producer, Dr. Luke. It’s a court battle that ended when her abuse claims and injunction were both rejected by New York Judge Shirley Kornreich (wife to Ed Kornreich, a partner in Sony’s legal firm), stating that: “Her claims of insults about her value as an artist, her looks, and her weight are insufficient to constitute ‘extreme, outrageous conduct intolerable in civil society’.”
Sony eventually dropped Dr. Luke after the PR nightmare, which luckily freed Kesha from having to record the albums she still owed Sony under her contract with her alleged abuser, but it still felt like a move that came just a little too late. Her new record could have been a disaster, like most artists who have to begrudgingly make albums for record label’s they can’t stand (take Kid Cudi’s Lasers), but Rainbow is anything but some bitter throw-away tracks.
Rainbow doesn’t consist of some of the most revolutionary music to appear recently, sounding similarly to the rise of female pop artists turned semi-folk artists, but the key point of Rainbow isn’t that the music didn’t fail, it’s that the narrative didn’t. I can easily live without songs like “Learn to Let Go,” “Boots,” or “Bastards,” the weird-folk version of Kanye’s “Runaway,” but it’s tracks like the single “Praying,” “Finding You,” and “Rainbow” that show not only Kesha’s maturity as an artist, but her reclamation of her own life apart of the very personal and on-view court battle with Dr. Luke.
Sure, I don’t really care for the folk-country elements entering pop (just like I didn’t care much for Lady Gaga’s Joanne), or the odd Nashville pop-rock of “Hunt You Down” and the record’s two Eagles of Death Metal contributions, but overall, Rainbow isn’t about how great the songs are.Even a bombastic track like “Woman” with the Dap-Kings backing her is nice, but the best part of the song isn’t the screams of “I’m a motherfucker” or “I’m a motherfucking woman!,” it’s when Kesha laughs in the second verse, and the skit leading into the song right after “Let Em’ Talk.” She’s having fun. If she goes to #1 (which it looks like she’s heading towards), then that’s even more fantastic, but it pales in comparison to the importance of her happily reclaiming her career.
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