As you might imagine, when Kesha released "Praying," her latest single, there was a lot to unpack. And the "Praying" lyrics absolutely send a message, which Kesha breaks down in an essay in Lenny Letter. "I have channeled my feelings of severe hopelessness and depression, I've overcome obstacles, and I have found strength in myself even when it felt out of reach," she wrote. "I've found what I had thought was an unobtainable place of peace." With her first song in four years, the singer wanted to send a message of hope, that even when things get dark there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
Kesha wrote that, with "Praying," her first solo song in four years, she wanted to send the message that it is better to "feel empathy for someone else even if they hurt you or scare you" because life is "about hoping everyone, even someone who hurt you, can heal." In her own specific case, she is almost certainly referencing is her former producer Dr. Luke, despite her never mentioning his name in her essay or in her song.
For nearly three years, Kesha has been in an ongoing legal battle with producer Dr. Luke. The case involves Kesha asking to be released from her recording contract after accusing Dr. Luke (real name Lukasz Gottwald) of sexual assault and other abuse. Gottwald repeatedly denied the allegations and filed a defamation lawsuit, which recently was dismissed. (Kesha's mother, Pebe Sebert, and Gottwald released a joint statement about the dismissal.) The California lawsuit alleging sexual assault has also been dropped, but Kesha's New York case to break her contract remains ongoing.
But, for the time being, Kesha is trying to put that in her past and move forward. This emotional ballad marks her new beginning. From the very first verse of the track, which was produced by Macklemore's Ryan Lewis, she makes it clear that she has regained her voice and she's going to use it to celebrate the person she has become. This is her story to tell.
Well, you almost had me fooled
Told me that I was nothing without you
Oh, but after everything you've done
I can thank you for how strong I have become
Kesha is making the point that, from this moment forward, nothing in her past will hold her back. As she wrote for Lenny, "This song is about me finding peace in the fact that I can't control everything — because trying to control everyone was killing me. It's about learning to let go and realize that the universe is in control of my fate, not me."
She's also learned that no one else can control that fate and that it's better for her to move forward than to get stuck in the past. "It's from our darkest moments that we gain the most strength," she wrote. And her lyrics emphasize this:
'Cause you brought the flames and you put me through hell
I had to learn how to fight for myself
And we both know all the truth I could tell
I'll just say this is I wish you farewell
That goodbye is a powerful one, especially since she follows it with a message that it's not always easy to forgive, but she has to. Her lyrics even express the hope that the people who have hurt her can find their own way:
Oh, sometimes, I pray for you at night
Someday, maybe you'll see the light
Oh, some say, in life, you're gonna get what you give
But some things, only God can forgive
Kesha is choosing hope rather than despair, and she's turning the page on this chapter of her life. In fact, she's starting a whole new book that begins with a new album, Rainbow, out August 11, that will let her fans see the person she's become. And, with this song, she's giving others the strength to grow as well.