Kesha references Dr. Luke turmoil in emotional new single, music video
Kesha has finally answered her fans' prayers.
On Thursday, the singer released "Praying," her first solo single since 2013, and a response to her legal battle with former collaborator Dr. Luke. The Ryan Lewis-produced track and Jonas Åkerlund-directed music video come more than a year after her collaboration with Zedd for "True Colors."
Speaking in the beginning, Kesha questions the meaning of life, asking, "If there's a God or whatever, something, somewhere, why have I been abandoned by everyone and everything I've ever known, I've ever loved? Stranded, what is the lesson? What is the point? God, give me a sign or I have to give up. I can't do this anymore. Please just let me die. Being alive hurts too much."
She goes on to sing about a person who "brought the flames" and put her "through hell" before erupting into the chorus: "I hope you're somewhere praying, praying/ I hope your soul is changing, changing/ I hope you find your peace falling on your knees, praying."
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The second verse finds Kesha turning the page, singing, "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/ I don't need you/ I've found a strength I've never known."
She defiantly adds: "I hope when I'm finished/ They won't even know your name."
In an equally emotional essay Lenny Letter released Thursday morning, Kesha explained the song's inspiration. "I have channeled my feelings of severe hopelessness and depression, I've overcome obstacles, and I have found strength in myself even when it felt out of reach," she wrote. "I've found what I had thought was an unobtainable place of peace. This song is about coming to feel empathy for someone else even if they hurt you or scare you. It's a song about learning to be proud of the person you are even during low moments when you feel alone. It's also about hoping everyone, even someone who hurt you, can heal."
She also clarified the song's lyrics about abandonment, writing, "I know that I was never abandoned by my fans, my animals, or my family, but when you are depressed — really, truly depressed — you feel like you have nothing."
Going into detail about her struggles, Kesha wrote, "There were so many days, months even, when I didn't want to get out of bed. I spent all day wanting to go to sleep, and then when I did fall asleep, I had horrible night terrors where I would physically cry and scream through the dark. I was never at peace, night or day. But I dragged myself out of bed and took my emotions to the studio and made art out of them. And I have never been happier with a body of work as I am with this record."
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For Kesha, "Praying" is just the beginning of a new chapter. "I've written a record that reveals my vulnerabilities, and I have found strength in that," she explained. "In the past, I've always felt like I was trying to prove something, trying to be someone I thought people wanted me to be, but on this record, I'm just telling the truth about my life. This album is me. The most raw and real art I have ever created, and now it's my gift to you. I hope you love it. Thank you for not giving up on me. We made it <3. I love you all so much."
Kesha announced the new single on Wednesday, saying in a video to fans, "Your support and love and kindness has gotten me through hands-down the hardest time of my entire life. My new song, ‘Praying,' is coming out tomorrow, and I couldn't have done this without you. I f—ing love you."
The extended period without new music from the "Tik Tok" singer is a result of a long and ongoing legal battle with her former label boss and famed producer Dr. Luke. Kesha accused the producer of emotionally, physically, and sexually abusing her during their working relationship — claims Dr. Luke has repeatedly denied amid the ongoing conflict.
Last year, a New York City judge denied the pop star's request for an injunction, which, if granted, would have permitted her to work on fresh music outside the Kemosabe banner. Dr. Luke's contract with Sony Music expired in March, and he is no longer CEO of Kemosabe, though he "still has a relationship" with the company.
Watch the "Praying" video above.