What Kesha means to me

Do you have a moment to discuss Kesha? Three weeks ago I saw Kesha perform live and honestly it was a life changing experience. I know that sounds dramatic, but it was actually incredible. She told her loyal crowd (who had been chanting her name to beckon her long before the lights came up) that we were going to have a good time. She told us to fuck rent, homework, our ugly ex-boyfriends, and her lawsuit until a light-up sign displaying “Fuck the World” lit up behind her. To be honest with you, I was in an emotional place and I may or may not have teared up a bit. But then I wiped my tears and got ready to dance. Her performance was theatrical and dramatic in classic Kesha fashion. During her song “Cannibal,” she ripped a prop heart out of her hype man’s chest with her teeth and shook her head so that glitter would spurt out. She took a somber moment to sing an emotion drenched cover of the Lesley Gore song “You Don’t Own Me,” which was introduced as substitute for new music and a fuck you to a very certain asshole. Other than that, it was all of Kesha’s greatest hits. She promised us new music soon, but I was shocked with how soon that would come.

Not only has Kesha blessed us with it a new track, it comes complete with a stunning music video. If you haven’t watched “Praying” yet, you literally need to do that right now. Kesha has had so much time to work, practice, and write it’s not surprising that this track is absolutely gorgeous. Kesha has already proven herself as a gifted singer and musician on her Deconstructed EP on which she remixes and covers her songs (and one by Dolly Parton) with raw sincerity. Also at her recent performances, Kesha has been incorporating more of a rock sound all while utilizing her incredible vocal talent. But this song really showcases Kesha’s ability as a singer, songwriter, and performer. While the lyrics clearly address the lawsuit and how it’s changed her, it’s ultimately just her being ready to move on. She’s still our warrior.

When thinking about what I would put in this article while watching Kesha clips, I tried to figure out what exactly made Kesha so important to me and so many of my friends. On a surface level, she’s covered in glitter, her music is dance worthy to the level of infectious, and her no-fucks-to-give feminist party girl is really an aesthetic we dig. But Kesha is so much more than glitter and table dancing. Then I thought about how our relationship to Kesha changed after the lawsuit. To the point that me and my friends would demand that DJs play her songs and then scream FREE KESHA in the middle of the dance floor - why did we do that? I listened to Kesha in high school and thought her music was good and fun, but in college my relationship to her changed as I read about her struggle. This is when we get real; I’ve never written about this before. I was warned about the rates of sexual assault on college campuses. I was never raped, but I had to comfort my friends as they cried or sit with them in the public safety office as they filed reports. I’d watch the news and see story after story of how the men wouldn’t be held accountable. I lost some of my best friends in college because they didn’t understand why I wouldn’t speak to a boy who was convicted of rape. We’d attend trainings and talks about why this was happening, but it still felt like nothing was actually being done. Kesha was strong and beautiful. Kesha didn’t apologize to men. Kesha went to court. But Kesha also still had fun and she helped us have fun too. We knew we couldn’t beat the patriarchy on a Friday night, but we could blast Kesha and maybe feel okay.

Her new album Rainbow comes out August 11. She has fought so hard to share this music with us. As a performer Kesha is the real deal, and through this whole fucking ordeal she’s remained true to herself. Kesha is free now and I’m so ready for it.