Kesha's "True Colors" Lyrics Subtly Change Zedd's Original Version, But Here's Why The Differences Are Significant

LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 06: Singer Kesha performs onstage during The Silverlake Overpass Four Year Anniversary Party on February 6, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Katie Stratton/Getty Images)
Source: Katie Stratton/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

Kesha's long-awaited return to the music industry is finally here: Kesha and Zedd's "True Colors" has been released. It's the first song from Kesha since 2013's "Timber," and sure enough, it's wrought with emotion. If you find the song slightly familiar upon first listen, that's because it actually is: In 2015, Zedd released a version of "True Colors" on his album of the same name. But, this particular collaboration with Kesha carries a whole new weight. It's the first song Kesha has put out since a New York judge ruled in February 2016 that she could not break her contract with Dr. Luke, the man whom she accused in an October 2014 lawsuit of sexually assaulting and emotionally abusing her for a period of 10 years beginning when she was 18 — and with lyrics like "I'll show you my, my true colors/ No, no, no, no, I won't apologize for the fire in my eyes," what a telling one it will remain. (Dr. Luke, for his part, denied the allegations against him: In October 2014, he quickly filed a countersuit against Kesha for defamation, and he spoke out on Twitter in February 2016, saying, "I didn’t rape Kesha and I have never had sex with her. Kesha and I were friends for many years and she was like my little sister.")

On top of that, the lyrical changes from the original "True Colors" add significance. "It aint no rainbow" changes to "It ain't your rainbow," and there are also minor adjustments to the last stanza. The usage of "we" in Zedd's 2015 version become "I." As a result, Kesha and Zedd's "True Colors" is — as she explained on her Facebook page on April 28 — "more than a song." "It’s a declaration of" her "truth." This time, it's incredibly personal. 

Notice the lyrical changes in "True Colors" below. From Zedd's 2015 version:

Something tells me, I know nothing at all
We've escaped our capture
Yet we have our masters
And somehow it's like I've waited

Then, from Kesha's version:

Something tells me, I know nothing at all
I've escaped my capture
And I have no master
And somehow it's like I've waited

The change from "We've escape our capture/ Yet we have our masters," to "I've escaped my capture/ And I have no master" is a subtle one, but given Kesha's heavily publicized and ongoing legal battle with Dr. Luke, it's also deeply powerful. That small change transforms the song from a standard pop song to a personal ballad about overcoming struggle and coming out on top. Kesha is back, and she wants the world to know it. That's a power move if I've ever seen one.

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In February 2016, a New York judge ruled that Kesha would not be allowed to break her contract with Gottwald, then in April, the same judge ruled that her allegations against him would not be considered a "hate crime," which is what Kesha was claiming in her lawsuit against him. As the judge stated:

Although [Dr. Luke’s] alleged actions were directed to Kesha, who is female, [Kesha did] not allege that [Dr. Luke] harbored animus toward women or was motivated by gender animus when he allegedly behaved violently toward Kesha. Every rape is not a gender-motivated hate crime.
Sony, though unable to break Kesha's contract with Dr. Luke, has released a comment stating they're dedicated to supporting her career. As an attorney for Sony speaking to the New York Times said in February:
Sony has made it possible for Kesha to record without any connection, involvement or interaction with Luke whatsoever, but Sony is not in a position to terminate the contractual relationship between Luke and Kesha. Sony is doing everything it can to support the artist in these circumstances, but is legally unable to terminate the contract to which it is not a party.

In October 2014, Kesha's lawyer released a statement to Billboard upon filing her lawsuit:

This lawsuit is a wholehearted effort by Kesha to regain control of her music career and her personal freedom after suffering for ten years as a victim of mental manipulation, emotional abuse and sexual assault at the hands of Dr. Luke. The facts presented in our lawsuit paint a picture of a man who is controlling and willing to commit horrible acts of abuse in an attempt to intimidate an impressionable, talented, young female artist into submission for his personal gain. Kesha is focused on moving her life and her career beyond this terrible time.

Additionally, on April 3, Dr. Luke's spokesperson released a statement acknowledging the allegations to Rolling Stone.

The Court repeatedly stated Kesha is already free to record without Dr. Luke, and that she had not presented any facts supporting her claims. That's because all the evidence — including Kesha's own videotaped sworn testimony — show her allegations are false. The only thing Kesha is not free to do is to continue to lie about Dr. Luke through publicity stunts and outrageous smears, ignoring the fact that by her own free will she went to work and entered into new contracts with Dr. Luke years after this "incident" supposedly happened. Her goal all along has been solely personal enrichment by seeking to break contracts that brought her success and millions so she can enter into more lucrative ones. We look forward to our day in court holding Kesha accountable for her lies.

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