I have thoughts about Kesha’s new single.
you may not know that i pay alot of attention to Kesha, but i do. I started paying attention to (then) Ke$ha because that is really just my style of music and i thought it sounded fantastic (you may be learning alot of new things about me right now – i promise, no more surprises) I took a course in seminary called “Cultural Hermenutics” a 7000 level course taught by Dr. Sung TEDS PhD. the largest course assignment was to produce a fifteen page analysis of any “cultural artifact.” You could choose Michelangelo’s david or Machiavelli’s The Prince, or the “Twilight Saga.” I choose Kesha’s two albums released in 2010 Animal and Canibal. I took an immersive look into the background, lyrics, and reception of these two albums and produced one of the best papers of my academic career. without trying to brag, and acknowledging full that i am being ridiculous, i doubt very much that more than 100 people have taken a closer, academic-level look at Kesha as a cultural artifact, making me one of the foremost Kesha experts… in the world – – yeah.
Kesha’s early works (pre Dr. Luke dispute) can be shortly summarized as a: socio-cultural anthem for those who would reject the influence of money, status, and approval, in order to “fight” the impending advancement of time/age through ‘the party’ an unrestrained pursuit of pleasure attained by the means of dancing, alcohol, and casual promiscuity.
if you want to learn more about Kesha as a cultural artifact and needlessly lose one hour of your life i can send you my paper. Her music/persona/cultural presence was more than a projection or a guise. for reasons that i don’t have space to explain here, it is clear that Kesha genuinely means to change – or at least challenge – the meaning-structure of modern life and create a world of meaning that operates by the rules put forth by her music.
the fascinating part of her 4-year long battle with her producer Dr. Luke is that she was made to do exactly what her earlier corpus regarded as the cardinal sin of life – wait. she was, essentially, not allowed to produce or perform music.
Kesha was publicly grief stricken by this embargo across all of her social platform,s and at court she lamented this painful period of her life. In deed, the music video for her new single begins with a desperate theodicic appeal to “God or something” asking why her life was made to be so miserable.
FIRST – I would like to point out that Kesha’s beleaguered spirit – on full display through this protracted 4-year contract dispute – contains a critique of her cultural projection. if the ‘party’ and the ‘fight’ were truly meaningful enough and fulfilling/enjoyable enough to create a structure of significance and life as promised in her lyrics, then the could-have/should-have been able to draw from that well in order to avoid being dragged down and shaken by her 4-years off-air. However that was not the case and you get the picture that the life that Kesha advocates is not fulfilling enough on its own merits as she herself was unable to endure the ‘injury’ of Dr. Luke’s contractual control.
this pain of Kesha’s reveals that a life lived for the party, fighting against impending time and age, requires another element not yet mentioned in her corpus to truly be fulfilling – a calling. Kesha believes that hers is to share her music/projection with the world, and without it she was unable to live a joyous life – – simply look at the desperation she expresses in the begining of the video for her new single
the question of whether or not this critique reached Kesha’s consciousness remains unanswered. will her cultural projection change to allow for a the pursuit of life-sized ambitions for her ‘Animals’ (fan followers) instead of the simmple collective rage against status and wealth for the pursuit of the party? Her new single “Praying” will not answer that question, we will have to wait for more music to observe what – if anything – has changed in Kesha’s cultural projection
SECOND – lets talk about “praying” I don’t think praying is a particularly good song. I think she had too much time to think about this one – the way that if i were given only one piece of paper to draw a picture of a cat, my drawing would look much more cat-like if you only gave me 4 minutes, than if you made me work on it for 4 hours. this song is not Kesha’s genre, style, sound, or attitude. she is not the vocalist that this song belongs to.
the music of praying is especially un-kesha like – it belongs to the genre of “power baled” which is definitely new territory for this artist. the track is accompanied by STRINGED INSTRUMENTS, and CHORAL BACKGROUND VOCALS, and they are both largely un-synthesized. If you’ve ever listened to a Ke$ha album before you will recognize the abject alien-ness of these elements.
“Praying” belongs to a completely different category than Kesha’s earlier corpus. they do not have a homogeneous cultural projection, musically or lyrically. The song is transparently a message to Dr. Luke her former producer. As previously stated, the locutionary content of this song is completely foreign to her corpus, but* the illuctionary content is congruent as a matter of subsequence with the world of meaning previously created by her music and persona, given the fact that she believes that she was the victim of a grave unfairness.
“Praying” is a declaration of victory over Dr. Luke by whom Kesha believed she was deeply wronged, and a “punt” regarding what will happen to him now. in any event Kesha is communicating that she has no part in it. she goes so far as to proclaim that only God can forgive Dr. Luke, which is ironic because God is a character completely foreign to the meaning-structure or worldview projected by Kesha’s earlier music. She is essentially declaring Dr. Luke’s case hopeless, but washing her hands of it none the less.
NEXT – I’m wondering if this song introduces us to “the new Kesha” or serves only as a transition between this dark period of the contract dispute to the resumption of her original ethos. I suspect that the latter is true. I think this song was necessary for her fan followers who wanted to hear her deal with the Dr. Luke dispute in a song. the subject matter of this song could not ‘fit’ into her creative channel so she borrowed a different medium to push out this ballad and hit the reset button. While this song is decidedly a ballad – towards the end it shifts ever so slightly in the direction of “anthem” as the choral voices grow louder and sing in unison with a more exclamatory Kesha in the final refrains. Also we get 1 classically kesha-ized, synthesized noise at the end of the bridge (4:21 minute mark on the video), which may herald that this song was just a brief mis-step into some unusually usual sounding music. I’m excited to see what comes next from Kesha Rose Sebert