The singer Kesha, who galvanised the music industry with her legal battle against a producer she alleges raped her, returned Thursday with an impassioned ballad about finding spiritual strength.
The 30-year-old pop star became a radio fixture with her 2012 album “Warrior” which featured the feel-good hits “Die Young” and “Tik Tok” but said she afterwards plunged into debilitating depression as she fought in vain to exit a contract with producer Dr Luke.
“Praying,” her first solo song in more than four years, is anything but a party anthem. She announced that it is the first single off her next album “Rainbow” which will come out on August 11.
Driven by a piano as Kesha’s voice builds in volume into a plaintive cry, the song unmistakably reflects on her experience with Dr Luke as she sings that she is “proud of who I am” despite a person who “told me that I was nothing without you.”
“I don’t need you / I found a strength I’ve never known / I’ve been thrown out, I’ve been burned / When I’m finished, they won’t even know your name,” she sings.
“Some say, in life, you’re gonna get what you give / But some things only God can forgive,” she sings.
The video for “Praying” quickly became a top trending item on YouTube. With a kaleidoscope of colours and spiritual imagery with nods to Brazil and India, the video shows Kesha climbing a beachside hill to find solace in prayer, with pig-faced men in suits trying to drag her down.
“I hope this song reaches people who are in the midst of struggles, to let them know that no matter how bad it seems now, you can get through it,” Kesha wrote on the feminist blog Lenny Letter.
Kesha in her lawsuit said that Dr Luke, a prominent producer whose real name is Lukasz Gottwald, drugged and raped her in 2005 and 2008 and tormented her psychologically.
She sought to suspend her contract with Dr Luke’s Kemosabe Records, part of the Sony Music conglomerate. Dr Luke denied the charges and countersued, accusing Kesha, whose full name is Kesha Rose Sebert, of lying to get out of the record deal.
A court last year rejected Kesha’s lawsuit, enraging feminists. The singer enjoyed public shows of support from top women in music including Adele and Taylor Swift.
But Sony Music quietly parted ways with Dr Luke earlier this year. Kesha remains on the Kemosabe label but wrote “Praying” with new collaborators — Ryan Lewis, who is one-half of a hip-hop duo with Macklemore, and Australian folk singer Ben Abraham.