In 2010, following her breakthrough hit “Tik Tok”—which at one point was the best-selling digital single of all time—the newly elected queen of wild youth, Kesha, released an unequivocally emancipating “We R Who We R.”
The song was an anthem of loving oneself and being free. Seven years later, the singer learns that being free comes at a great price.
For the past couple of years, Kesha was swept under a highly publicized legal battle with her producer Doctor Luke, which left her almost bankrupt and unable to release new music.
Yet, Kesha came out from the tornado like a champion—mature, vocal and independent.
With her new album Rainbow, Kesha proves that the once rebellious underdog of the music industry is in fact a true artist with a talent worth paying attention to.
Rainbow is an inspirational tour de force of one’s will with a groundbreaking narrative and liberating rhythms.
Looking at her contemporaries who have been in similar situations, it would be almost expected for Kesha to indulge in self-pity and revenge by becoming an idolized martyr of the industry’s evil.
Nevertheless, the release of the album shows that Kesha made a mature decision in following a path of showing strength in remorse and self-acceptance.
Rainbow opens up with the inspirational ballad “Bastards.” The unapologetic title sets up the tone for the whole album. “Bastards” is full of raw mournfulness and its sharp lyrics serve as a passionate warmup before the emotional tornado that follows.
“Let ‘em Talk” features rock band Eagles of Death Metal, and is contagiously upbeat as Kesha reclaims her status as the dance floor commander.
Kesha follows with the fierce track “Woman,” which was inspired by Donald Trump’s “pussy-grabbing” comments. “Woman” is a powerful love letter to feminism. The song has a brisk, unstoppable energy.
Following “Woman,” Kesha tones down and gets serious for “Hymn,” a poignant dedication to those who do not belong. “This is a hymn for the hymn less / kids with no religion,” her lyrics say.
Kesha recollects her personal experiences with being accepted and challenges the ideas of what it means to be open minded. Yet she juxtaposes herself by following with the faith-heavy lead single “Praying,” produced by Ryan Lewis.
An absolute climax of the album, this song is a gospel and soul-influenced piano ballad in the form of a forceful monologue about getting up after being dragged down.
“Praying” demonstrates Kesha’s maturity—both as a person and an artist. The raw pain of “Praying” makes it arguably one of the most lyrically and structurally complex songs in recent pop music, completely destroying the overproduced image of Kesha being a party animal with mediocre abilities.
The main theme of Rainbow is moving on, and Kesha’s inner fight with her pain comes to a conclusion with “Learn To Let Go,” where the singer advises herself to let go of her demons and welcome the future with open arms.
Rainbow demonstrates Kesha’s versatile musical influences and abilities with songs like the raunchy “Boots,” the heartfelt love song “Finding You,” a country-inspired song “Hunt You Down,” and finally the ardent title song “Rainbow,” conceived by Kesha during rehabilitation.
The only duet on the album is a cover of Dolly Parton’s “Old Flames (Can’t Hold a Candle To You)” with the queen of country music herself. This track not only fits the narrative of the album, but is also written by Kesha’s mother Pebe Sebert, who appropriately wrote a couple of songs on Rainbow as well.
Rainbow is sincere, a trait that many female singers with established careers nowadays desire to go after.
However, unlike Beyonce’s very meticulously orchestrated Lemonade or Lady Gaga’s chaotically experimental Joanne, Rainbow’s sincerity comes from the artist’s personal honesty and knowing not to take herself too seriously.
Even after going through many hardships, Kesha still remembers who she is and where she came from. Back in the early 2010s, she claimed that her songs were made of magic, and they still are. She is not afraid to make fun of herself and the world around her.
Goofy trills, satirical lyrics, as well as two final songs “Godzilla”—about dating a giant monster—and “Spaceship”—about leaving the Earth and going to a magical planet after death—provide an additional insight into who Kesha is as an artist and as an individual.
Rainbow is a dream comeback for an artist who was never considered to be significant.
Kesha proved that not only that will she not be silenced, but also that if she has something to say, we all will hear it. Complicated as a journey of life itself, Kesha’s new album is a rollercoaster of emotions—all genuine and formidable.
Its candor is a sign of hope during dark times, showing that no matter how brutal and tough the past and present can be, there is always a rainbow at the end of the storm.