Why Did Kesha Cover “True Colors”? She Totally Made Zedd's Original Song Her Own


It’s an amazing day to be a Kesha fan: As promised, on Friday Zedd and Kesha released their collaboration "True Colors." Based off of the lyrics, the track seems to largely be about embracing who you are and not being afraid of showing the world who you are — no matter what has happened in the past. But even with empowering lyrics like that, many fans have found themselves wondering, why did Kesha cover “True Colors,” — a song that, before now, had only been sung by Tim James — instead of releasing an original song or choosing another song to cover? What's "True Colors'" significance?

Given the nature of the song’s lyrics, there are a probably a number of reasons why Kesha chose to cover a song that Zedd had already included on his album with uncredited vocals by Rock Mafia's Tim James. The first thing I can imagine is that both Zedd and Kesha may have wanted to get whatever work they were collaborating on out fast. It’s been four years since Kesha released her last studio work, after all: Deconstructed was released in 2012, and, ever since then, Kesha’s music career has come to a standstill.

But that radio silence may have something to do with the legal battle that she has been embroiled in. By filing a lawsuit in October 2014 in which she alleged that music producer Dr. Luke (real name Lukasz Gottwald) had sexually assaulted and emotionally abused her for a period of 10 years beginning when she was 18, Kesha requested she be released from her six-album contract with Sony Records. (For his part, Dr. Luke countersued for defamation in October 2014 and denied the allegations against him in a February 2016 tweet: “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.”) But, in February 2016, a New York judge ruled her contract with Dr. Luke could not be terminated, and in April 2016 also stated she would not rule that Kesha's accusations against Dr. Luke were a "hate crime," which is what Kesha was claiming in her lawsuit against the producer:

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Subsequently, the road back to working in the studio again has been a long one for the 29-year-old singer. In Kesha's lawyer released a statement to Billboard in 2014 that claimed the opposite and that Kesha was only trying at this point to move on with her career:

Then, on April 3, Dr. Luke's lawyer released the following statement to Rolling Stone:

For their part, Sony has commented that they remain committed to supporting Kesha's career. In February 2016, an attorney for Sony released a statement to the New York Times stating:

No matter what is happening legally, it seems like all of this has had an enormous effect on Kesha and her creative output, which might be another reason why she covered Zedd’s “True Colors.” With lyrics like “I won’t apologize for the fire in my eyes” and “it’s time to light the flame, right before it rains,” it seems like there is more emotional resonance to this song than any other the two of them could have written and produced in a short amount of time.

Those lyrics suggest strength and empowerment and they suggest rebirth and regaining creative light.

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Whatever Kesha’s real reasons are for covering “True Colors,” I’m just glad she did. The song has never been more powerful than with Kesha covering lead vocals and the context of her situation giving the song even more emotional weight and power.

Editor's Note: The original version of this article incorrectly reported that Zedd sang the original "True Colors." While it is his song originally, the vocals on the album version were done by Tim James, not Zedd himself.