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Comeback Queens: Kesha

Katie Baker explores Kesha's road to comeback

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Kesha may not be your first thought when it comes to comeback artists, especially among the announcements of both the Spice Girls and Backstreet Boys setting off on their reunion tours. But Kesha’s creative comeback, beginning from the release of Warrior in 2012 to Rainbow in 2017, is best read in relation to her personal life.

Between releases, apart from a feature on Zedd’s ‘True Colours’ , Kesha remained mostly absent from media narratives and public life. During this time, she spent time at the Timberline Knolls Residential Treatment Center for treatment for eating disorders.  During her stay, she revealed that fourteen songs had been recorded for her third album, and changed her stage name from the stylised ‘Ke$ha’ to her birth name, Kesha. Later in 2014,  Kesha sued her producer, Dr Luke for sexual assault and battery, sexual harassment, gender violence, emotional abuse, drugged rape, violation of California business practices and causing her eating disorder, all of which took place over the ten years they worked together.

Within this she filed a preliminary injunction which would free her from her contractual obligation with Kemosabe Records,  which was denied. After a counter suit for defamation, #freekesha began trending everywhere with widespread celebrity support. Now, it’s hard to see it as anything but as a preamble to the wider #MeToo Movement. Her injunctions were repeatedly still denied and eventually she dropped the charges in 2016. She remains signed under Dr Luke’s record label to this day.

Before Rainbow, even before the abuse allegations, there were calls in 2013 for Kesha to be ‘freed’ from Dr Luke due to the ‘stunting’ of her creativity these protests only increased after the broadcast of Kesha: My Crazy Beautiful Life, a reality TV series that showed just how little creative control Kesha had over her own releases; her concessions involved scrapping her favourite song ‘Machine Gun Lover’ as well as over 70 other possible tracks from the final master of Warrior. Kesha is not ashamed of her past releases. Instead, she felt they presented only one side of her.  She told one interviewer ‘You can be a fun girl. You can go and have a crazy night out, but you also, as a human being, have vulnerable emotions. You have love.”

Although Kesha seems to have won at least some more creative freedom. This was apparent though the release of single ‘Praying’, which undeniably relates to her relationship with Dr Luke, Moreover,  Rainbow  celebrates themes of female empowerment and self-worth. It is the culmination of Kesha’s experiences, an album of healing and expression.  But Kesha is still being forced to work with an alleged abuser, who continues to profit from her trauma. Perhaps we can hope for a second wave of truly empowered comeback and freedom for Kesha, but this cannot come into fruition, legally, until her contract comes to an end.

 

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