By Josh Schonfeld
It has been four long years since pop singer, Kesha, has had a proper single released. Due to the ongoing lawsuit and sexual assault allegations between her and longtime producer, Dr. Luke, she has been unable to release anything… until now. It is still unclear how this is happening since she is still in the clutches of her alleged abuser, but it seems as though they have worked out an agreement in which he gets final approval of each song on the album before she can release anything as well as receiving profits from the song and eventual album, entitled Rainbow and due out August 11th, which still seems odd since “Praying” is not kind to him.
“Praying” is not the same Kesha we all grew up with. How could she be? She’s gone through so much in her relatively short career that there’s no way she could go on as the sassy electropop princess without addressing the struggles and turmoil in her life. Luckily for us, it wasn’t all the bells and whistles or the noisy production that drew us to Kesha, it was her spirit and her songwriting that brought us together and that is exactly what “Praying” highlights.
The track begins with Kesha at the piano, softly cooing about the deceptions and lies at her lowest moment until she realizes how strong that’s made her. She then builds up strength and bravado as she goes into the chorus, which speaks of forgiveness and empathy towards her alleged abuser. She hits her stride as she belts out “when I’m finished, they won’t even know your name.” With her voice cracking with emotion and tears streaming down her face (I’m assuming. They were on mine), Kesha is finally able to open up about the atrocities her once-close friend has done to her. A strong kick drum gives way to a heavy stomp as producer Ryan Lewis (of Macklemore & Ryan Lewis fame) brings in the synths and horns for Kesha’s arrival back into the spotlight. The final chorus is punctuated with a cathartic scream that not only shows off Kesha’s previously unheard-of vocal prowess but also her metamorphosis into a respected female artist who can make it on her own.
Every single word on this track is said with a purpose with no throwaway notes or repetition just to fill time (basically the opposite of “Blah Blah Blah,” but we still love it). There are so many Facebook status-worthy lines throughout “Praying” that it’s almost pointless to list them all. Almost. Knowing Kesha’s songwriting, she could have gone with a biting middle-finger-in-the-air diss track like “Thinking of You,” “Kiss N Tell,” or “Backstabber,” but she took the high road and instead treated her abuser with respect as she sings, “I hope your soul is changin’. I hope you find your peace fallin’ on your knees prayin’.” Of course, Kesha still got her digs in with the powerful lines, “And we both know all the truth I can tell” and “some things only God can forgive.”
“Praying” is a proud moment for both Kesha and her fans. She gave us the strength to fight our demons with her music and now it’s time for her to finally have her moment to fight hers. The song is the beginning of a new chapter in Kesha’s career as she finally is free to do what she wants. On behalf of all the Animals that have stood by her through the thick and thin, I can proudly say — Thank you, Kesha.
“And you said that I was done but 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 found a strength I’ve never known.”