Organized religion might be my least favorite thing in the entire world. I feel as though everyone is entitled to whatever they want to believe, but, please, for the love of god, do not talk to me about it. So, when Kesha debuted “Praying,” I was skeptical, even though I have long thought Kesha has never received the props she deserves from the public.
Then known as Ke$ha, her first big break came when she was featured on Flo Rida’s “Right Round” back in 2009, although I’m still unsure why almost nowhere actually credits her with this. She followed up with party anthems like “TiK ToK” and, my personal favorite, “We R Who We R.” While these songs are by no means deep, I’ve always viewed her as kind of an underrated Lady Gaga type, in that if you look above the surface level, her songs hide a lot of true pain, beauty, and meaning. Basically, I’ve always been a fan and always felt she deserved more.
Flash forward to my extremely mixed emotions when I hear about “Praying:” OH MY GOD KESHA IS BACK and OH MY GOD I HOPE THIS IS NOT A RELIGIOUS SONG.
True to my high standards held to her, the-now Kesha did not disappoint. Instead of making a Jesus song, Kesha somehow managed to make a spiritual song that I can’t imagine would alienate even one person. It’s truly genius. While the chorus voices, “I hope you’re somewhere praying,” she actually only says “god” once: “some things, only god can forgive.” Instead of being preachy about how we all need to love god or we’ll go to hell, she’s simply saying, “I found god, and it helped me. You did a terrible thing, but I’ve forgiven you and truly wish you the best.”
Let’s back up a little bit to explain why this is so important.
In 2014, Kesha sued Dr. Luke, a producer she has worked with, for emotional distress, gender discrimination, and sexual abuse. Kelly Clarkson has also spoken out against Dr. Luke, and Lady Gaga and Taylor Swift came to Kesha’s side during her suit. The case is still ongoing, but, at least to me, it seems probable she will win.
Enter “Praying,” a song seemingly written directly to Dr. Luke: “you brought the flames, and you put me through hell / I had to learn how to fight for myself….I’m proud of who I am / no more monsters; I can breathe again.”
This is incredibly important. It’s a woman speaking out against wrongdoing. It’s a woman who has found herself and is confident and proud of who she is. It’s a woman who isn’t preaching, but earnestly coming to terms with her life and its events. It’s a woman who won’t back down from what is right.
And you can hear that in her voice. She sounds vulnerable — introspective — but strong, the best she ever has. Dropping the “$” from her name, she also drops all vanity. She goes from singing (wonderful) party songs to something truly honest and meaningful, just like I knew she had in her all along, and I cannot wait to hear what the rest of this album and this woman has in store. Honestly, all I can say, is thank you.