Let’s face it, ‘you-did-me-wrong-you-prick’ songs are fairly commonplace in pop music. Sure, they’re mostly about bad boyfriends but that doesn’t mean they should always be taken with a grain of salt/pinch of glitter. Absolutely not, for there are some epic, brilliant ones. I’ve had very deep and meaningful relationships with some over the years. Dare I say some have even been my BFFs, like this one.
Ps. I once danced to this song so hard at a 21st birthday that people I didn’t know told me to audition for Popstars. A true and hilarious story.
But there is a special autobiographical sub-sub-sub*-genre within this admittedly already very niche category, whose songs really stand out as gangsters of this true-crime friction.
Take Christina Aguilera’s Fighter and Kelly Clarkson’s Because of You. Both stand out tracks from brilliant coming-of-age-and-artist albums (Stripped and Breakaway respectively). They are both also soul-baring anti-odes to their fathers and therapeutic antidotes for themselves.
And … drum roll … we can now add Kesha’s new anthem, Praying, to this stellar anti-fella list.
While Praying isn’t about her actual father, it is about her music-industry father figure, super producer Dr Luke, who was basically the caretaker of Kesha’s career since she was just a young ambitious, and presumably impressionable, 18 year old. If you follow music news or gossip magazines then you’re probably at least a little aware of Kesha’s version of events. To summarise for you, they relate to control and abuse of the verbal, physical and sexual kind at the hands and, well, ‘hands’ of Dr Luke. It was all laundry-aired as part of her case to escape the recording contract she had with Sony/Dr Luke. Kesha wanted to leave, they said no – and so did the judge when it went to court. So, while the laundry was aired it remained unwashed.
That is until now. Because Praying feels more than cathartic. It feels cleansing. Kesha puts that dirt in the wash on the highest temperature and fastest spin cycle.
It’s the moment she officially says goodbye, on her own terms. Goodbye to the mess, goodbye to the young frivolity-embracing pop star she was before and, most significantly, it says goodbye and good-luck (of sorts, see below) to Dr Luke.
It also says hello to a new chapter, a new voice and artist. I’ve been a big fan of the old-Kesha too, back when she was Ke$ha. Each time I have ever heard TiK ToK it has changed that moment for the better. Your Love is my Drug is one of the most underrated pop songs in recent years. And as much as I hate Pitbull, I somehow enjoyed Timber thanks to Kesha’s rodeo show-down-esque pop drawl in the chorus.
But on Praying, Kesha has never sounded so raw, her music never so stripped back. Kesha sings this song in my favourite way – like she means every Dr Luke damning word.
Kesha leaves him with some parting words. They sound like well wishes but she’s actually defiantly rallying him to be changin’, to find his peace, but only when he – and this is the song’s killer line – falls on his knees, prayin’. aka begging for forgiveness and redemption. She takes this thing to church and the heavens, while taking ‘him’ to task. Can I get a AMEN up in here!?! AMEN.
This is powerful stuff. In the day of super-DJ’s with generic EDM beats and singers for hire this is such a refreshing change. Ballads aren’t easy to do in a credible and popularly accessible way. Not like they were in the heyday of the 80s and 90s. Hang on, were they actually credible then, or is nostalgia tainting my view? Discuss.
I have listened to this countless times in the last 24 hours, so my goose bumps have basically been on call and working overtime the whole weekend. But I think they would agree, they have been rewarded appropriately. We even had regular intervals at the pub yesterday where my friends and I took turns at listening through my headphones. Participation was totally voluntary too, which even I’ll admit is a first.
The verdict is in and it’s unanimous, even with my ‘fussy’ friends – Kesha v2.0 has launched and is off to an epic start.
I’m now officially pretty excited to hear what she does with the rest of the album, Rainbow, which is out next month.
Tell me you love it too …?
*Writing sub-sub-sub make me really want to sing Ain’t No Love, Ain’t No Use.
**Ok, I am singing it.