Kesha's New Music Signals A Major Career Shift

by Caitlyn Callegari

In the midst of legal controversy, a stalled career, and rebranding, Kesha has written 22 new songs, according to a profile in New York Times Magazine. While an accomplishment in and of itself, her prolificness is that much more impressive when you consider all that she's been through lately. These tracks, which have not yet been released, showcase a different and deeper side to Kesha, who's previously known for having fun, carefree songs. Based on the Times article, her ability to produce these never-before-heard lyrics likely stems from being, as she claims, stifled for so long. And while the singer said she doesn't feel "free" just yet, this insistence upon creating true music has at least started her on that path.

Although she made new music, it's unclear when it'll actually hit airwaves. That's because Kesha has been involved in an ongoing, highly publicized legal battle with music producer Dr. Luke. In 2014, Kesha claimed she was sexually and emotionally abused by Luke, who has adamantly and repeatedly denied these allegations. He countersued Kesha for defamation. In February 2016, a judge denied Kesha's request to leave her recording contract at Sony. For this reason, Kesha claimed to NYT Magazine that she doesn't have the freedom that fans believe she does. Regarding that misconception, Kesha told the magazine, "They were like, ‘Oh, my gosh, you’re free,’ and I was like, ‘No, sweetheart, I love you, but no, I am not, and I don’t know where you got that information."

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So, what's the deal? It depends who you ask. Kesha's rep told NYT Magazine, "Dr. Luke has insisted Sony’s participation is just an ‘accommodation’ and has not denied that all decisions regarding the album are still being made by Dr. Luke." Bustle reached out to representatives for Dr. Luke regarding Kesha's ability to freely record music, but has not heard back at this time. However, Dr. Luke's lawyer released a statement to Entertainment Weekly denying a bulk of the article. Here's an excerpt:

"The 'New York Times Magazine' profile piece that ran today unfortunately has many inaccuracies. This article is part of a continuing coordinated press campaign by Kesha to mislead the public, mischaracterize what has transpired over the last two years, and gain unwarranted sympathy. ... The reality is that for well over two years, Kesha chose—and it was entirely her choice—not to provide her label with any music. Kesha was always free to move forward with her music, and an album could have been released long ago had she done so."

The picture painted by Luke's lawyer contrasts what was written in the NYT Magazine, in which the writer claimed, "Kesha said that she submitted 22 songs to Sony in early summer. According to her representatives, Sony didn’t provide any meaningful feedback until after a judge intervened in late August." Meanwhile, a representative for Sony released the following statement to Bustle.

"RCA has been working with Kesha and Kemosabe Records over the past few months in order to facilitate the process of Kesha recording her next album. Creating a new album takes time, and everyone’s goal is to deliver a high quality album consistent with Kesha’s past releases. RCA executives have been in regular contact with Kemosabe Records and Kesha’s representatives to keep the process moving forward. RCA and Kemosabe Records have recently provided a list of producers with whom Kesha has agreed to work. We hope to share exciting new music with Kesha’s fans soon."
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Regardless of when the songs are released, this shift in Kesha's music is something she is undoubtedly committed to, after allegedly being made to bury this part of herself for so long. She claimed to NYT Magazine that she was forced by Dr. Luke to be "fun" and was allegedly directed to make her music "dumb" and "simple" to achieve that kind of persona. (Dr. Luke denied these claims through his representatives, according to NYT Magazine.)

Kesha explained,

"To this day, I’ve never released a single that’s a true ballad, and I feel like those are the songs that balance out the perception of you, because 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."

If the opinion of NYT Magazine writer, Taffy Brodesser-Akner, is any indication, Kesha is well on her way — specifically with a song called "Rainbow." Brodesser-Akner explained that after listening to the track, she requested "to hear it three more times," not because of its catchiness or radio worthiness, but because it gives a glimpse into that fully fleshed out, multifaceted person Kesha spoke about.

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Brodesser-Akner described the song as such:

... big and sweeping, and you can hear every instrument that Ben Folds [songwriter and producer] and his associates played — it does recall a Beach Boys vibe, just as she wanted it to. And as Folds said, the way she sings the song is so rich and so real that it jerks you out of your expectation of a pop song.

And the lyrics? A perhaps unintended, but perfect anthem for the singer and her upcoming more authentic phase. NYT teased the lyrics, "I found a rainbow, rainbow, baby. Trust me, I know life is scary, but just put those colors on, girl, and come and paint the world with me tonight." Kesha's emergence from her preconceived persona is evident, and hopefully it's just a matter of when — not if — she'll be able to show that to fans.