By Niy Birden
It has been a long, courageous fight for Kesha Rose Sebert, a.k.a Ke$ha, but now stylized as simply, Kesha. When she first came out, she was ostracized and criticized for her extensive auto-tune, party glam, drunk- girl-appropriating- cultures tone of music and imagery, and then three years ago we learned that she had been suffering from sexual abuse from her main producer Dr. Luke , who used to be the owner of Kasz only Inc., which partnered with Sony Records.
While the law dispute seems to have quieted down, Kesha’s voice definitely has not. And for good reasons, of course. If anything, her voice is more unique and louder than ever. Most people don’t know that before and during her “Tik Tok” fame in 2009, she was a singer-songwriter. So it’s actually no surprise at all that her return would not only be one to shatter her prior musical image, but it also shatters the opinions of most of her listeners. “Praying” is Kesha’s most powerful song to date. Don’t be surprised if you hear about the next singing competition winner getting their fame through use of this song. It’s that good. With its powerful chorus, whistle tone-like belt, and catchy melody, it makes you wonder what powerhouses Adele and Christina Aguilera are doing with their releases.
Premiering on July 6th as the first single from her new album “Rainbow”, Kesha actually released her new golden song with an interesting music video, filled with religious symbolism, oddly-masked men, and her walking around a very large outside environment, doing a ritualistic dance and prayer straight from the Indigenous people that she so often uses for accessory. While the video isn’t nearly as powerful as the song, it is classically, a very Kesha video. The most visually stunning shots, however, are the almost-still moments when the color of the video is in a black and white shot, with Kesha laying down on a surface, against a landscape of beautiful water. While the shot is supposed to be one of a solemn moment, it creates a beautiful effect on the eye. A similar scene returns at the very end of the video when she is now walking-on water, might I add- but this time, with a golden sunset played out before her. Looks like she’s been praying indeed.
The song however, is where she truly strikes gold. Beginning with a very charismatic pop and r&b piano tune, her voice comes in, softly, but without any auto-tune or processed sound whatsoever. The first verse, is honest and raw “Well, you almost had me fooled/Told me that I was nothing without you/Oh, but after everything you’ve done/I can thank you for how strong I have become” .
It continues on, slowly building up for the chorus in the normal pop balladry ways we all know, and finally gets to an even more raw lyric for its main chorus “I hope you’re somewhere prayin’, prayin’/I hope your soul is changin’, changin’/I hope you find your peace/Falling on your knees, prayin’”.
The added vocals in the background bring out the chorus even more, almost giving the listener a feeling of togetherness. The slight vibrato at the end of her ‘in’s is so damn good you would almost swear that it was Sia singing this song. That’s how much her voice has changed.
The song continues on normal fashion, with even more Grammy-winning lyrics. Although she does not explicitly mention Dr. Luke, it is pretty obvious that this song is definitely a power anthem aimed against him, with lyrics like “I’m proud of who I am/No more monsters, I can breathe again/And you said that I was done/Well, you were wrong and now the best is yet to come/‘Cause I can make it on my own/And I don’t need you, I found a strength I’ve never known/I’ll bring thunder, I’ll bring rain, oh-oh/When I’m finished, they won’t even know your name”
She definitely was not over exaggerating when she said “I’ll bring thunder, I’ll bring rain”, as the pounding drums come in on the second chorus, in addition to a storm-like backing choir that would make even Beyonce open her mouth in wonderment. Kesha’s voice also does another incredible, Sia-like moment when right after that phrase, she belts out “Oh-oh”, and her voice breaks in the good type of way. The type of way that makes singers who can’t naturally break their voice try for hours until they actually injure their voice. That’s how much her voice has changed.
And then there’s that piercing moment when she belts out her most awe-inspiring note, right before the final chorus. Kesha has literally never done this before. No one knows if she has always had this capability, but it does make one question “What the hell was she waiting for to show off such a damn good voice?”.
It also makes you wonder if the pop ballad is going to be Kesha’s new genre of choice for her comeback, which we are eagerly awaiting. She’s managed to already prove her pop genius with penning hits for Miley Cyrus and the like, and she has definitely left a stained print on the new era of dance music. While dance music has had its amazing share of belting voices in the past, it hasn’t been a defining characteristic of the genre. But with the new string of belting singers such as Ariana Grande, Sia, and now Kesha, it wouldn’t be surprising if this becomes a new norm on the mainstream dance charts. And hopefully, Kesha will be one of those voices. She’s definitely earned it.