Over the last few years, the story of pop singer Kesha Sebert (Ke$ha) and her claims of rape and abuse against her producer Lukasz “Dr. Luke” Gottwald have made plenty of headlines.
Kesha is a U.S. singer-songwriter who signed to Dr. Luke’s record label, Kemosabe Entertainment, in 2005 at the age of 18. She has since then released two albums; 2010’s “Animal” and 2012’s “Warrior”.
In Oct. 2014, Kesha filed a civil suit in which she claimed that Dr. Luke was guilty of sexual assault and battery, sexual harassment, gender violence, civil harassment, violation of California’s unfair business laws, intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligent infliction of emotional distress and negligent retention and supervision. The case then went to a New York Supreme Court, and in her counterclaim, Kesha alleged that Dr. Luke sexually, physically, verbally and emotionally abused her since the start of their professional relationship.
Kesha’s determination to win the battle was not only to free herself but also to bring inspiration for all abused victims.
Kesha claimed, “All I ever wanted was to be able to make music without being afraid, scared, or abused. This case has never been about a renegotiation of my record contract – it was never about getting a bigger, or a better deal. This is about being free from my abuser. I would be willing to work with Sony if they do the right thing and break all ties that bind me to my abuser.”
Yet, according to Billboard, after months of continuous battling, a judge rejected Kesha’s amended countersuit against Dr. Luke— in which she sought freedom from her record deal for the third time — claiming Kesha did not give appropriate notice to void her songwriting contract. For that reason, the judge said Kesha could not get out of her contract under the argument that Luke “breached the covenant of good faith and fair dealing” by allegedly abusing her.
Although it seemed like the end of the tunnel, Kesha found her ray of light. The young singer has released her first album, “Rainbow,” after her time out of the spotlight for four years.
Each song from “Rainbow” represents an intentional statement with lyrics as righteous warnings that tiptoe up to the line of litigation. Far different from the old image of an overrated auto tuned pop singer, Kesha shows off her real voice, singing notes that no one thought she could ever reach.
“Praying,” especially, is a heartfelt power ballad that shines some light on the traumatic experiences she has been through. There is a strong, organic rock and country influence that places her much more firmly in a lineage, a tradition, instead of the airless EDM (synthesized backing track)-influenced in the past. She pushes through her demons and expresses a remarkable level of empathy and understanding.
“Am I dead? Or is this one of those dreams?” asks Kesha in the introduction of the music video.
Yet, the content of the song contradicts the negative opening question.
“Cause you brought the flames and you put me through hell; I had to learn how to fight for myself; And we both know all the truth I could tell; I’ll just say this is ‘I wish you farewell.’” These lyrics are the loudest and most powerful statement from Kesha to her abuser: although the journey with Dr. Luke has been nothing but defection, bullying and undermining, she is still willing to forgive him as she has become a stronger person. It is such a brave move for Kesha to tell the person who ruined her life to “take care” when you really mean “forget you.” It is a powerful statement of resiliency.
Not only does Kesha want to break free from her abuser, she also wants to break free from her image in the past. “Godzilla”, written by Kesha’s mom best helps her express the new person. People are afraid of Godzilla, probably because he is a hideous giant lizard who is likely to destroy things and eat everyone. They are so distracted by his appearance that they miss the chance to get to know his wonderful character. Godzilla is actually a very sweet and funny guy who would be perfect to date and take home to introduce to your mother. Likewise, Kesha wants to show her fans that behind the reckless, pant-less and obnoxious pop singer lies a strong woman with true talents. “Godzilla” represents the all-time familiar message, “Don’t judge a book by its cover.”
Kesha’s emotional and vocal commitment to “Rainbow” reveals her exceptional recovery after walking through hell. In the end, she has decided that she will move forward victoriously, even if the court has not exactly deemed it so. Kesha has inspired us to find our strength and stand up even when the world outside is pulling us down: “Don’t let the bastards get you down; Don’t let the assholes wear you out” (“Bastard”), just like Kesha did when she decided to free herself from the grudge with Dr. Luke.