When Kesha was Ke$ha, her music was the party songs that my middle school friends and I all danced outrageously too. Now, her music means so much more to not only me but millions around the world. Rainbow was released in August of this year and was debuted number one on the Billboard 200. The album consists of ballads of letting go, self-forgiving and acceptance, and female empowerment.
My personal favorites on the album are "Hymn," "Praying," "Learn To Let Go," "Woman," and "Rainbow". These songs are about more than just their lyrics, but how they make people feel.
The lyrics in "Hymn" have struck a chord with me since I first heard the song. Phrases like "This is a hymn for the hymnless, kids with no religion" and "I know that I'm perfect, even though I'm fucked up" mean so much to those who felt like their struggles made them outsiders to those around them. When I hear this song, I'm reminded that no matter how many times I feel alone in this world, I can find solace in those who have been where I am. That just because so many people can't understand what I'm going through doesn't mean I don't belong. Kesha released a personal essay in relation to her song "Hymn" in which she says,
This song is dedicated to all the idealistic people around the world who refuse to turn their backs on progress, love and equality whenever they are challenged. It’s dedicated to the people who went out into the streets all over the world to protest against racism, hate and division of any kind. It’s also dedicated to anyone who feels like they are not understood by the world or respected for exactly who they are. It’s a hopeful song about all of these people — which I consider myself one of — and the power that we all have when we all come together.Praying" was her first released in July of this year as the debut for her album. Many have seen the song as a soul-influenced piano ballad with tones of forgiveness, healing, and some anger. The whole song is filled with lyrics people can relate to and use as insight to their own troubles. One that I related to was "Cause you brought the flames and you put me through hell, I had to learn how to fight for myself."
I felt it was a way of crediting those who put us through turmoil and recognizing their role in making us fight for ourselves. Another line that keys into the mantra that struggles, while they suck, make us who we are is, "I don't need you, I've found a strength I've never known ... When I'm finished, they won't even know your name." Not only does this signify that going through hard times gives us a undoubtable amount of strength, but let's those going through it hope that in the end, you will survive. The bridge of the song, "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" gives the ending a special meaning. While so many of us are hesitant to forgive those who have hurt us, know that there is only so much they can do to redeem themselves and that whatever God they believe in will know what they did in the end. In Kesha's personal essay for "Praying" she bares all her personal struggles and how they impacted not just this single, but her whole album. Writing,
"Praying" was written about that moment when the sun starts peeking through the darkest storm clouds, creating the most beautiful rainbow. Once you realize that you will in fact be OK, you want to spread love and healing. If you feel like someone has wronged you, get rid of that hate, because it will just create more negativity. One thing that has brought me great relief is praying for those people. Being angry and resentful will do nothing but increase your own stress and anxiety — and hate is the fuel that grows the viruses. Don't let anyone steal your happiness!
In her song "Learn To Let Go", Kesha walks her fans through the process of going through something but knowing when to let go. She includes very insightful lyrics within this song and allows her fans to interpret them in their own way. She says in the song repeatedly that she always tells people, "Life ain't always fair, but hell is living in resentment. Choose redemption, your happy ending's up to you" but struggles to apply that to her own life. Anyone who has been through struggles can relate to this as it is always easier to tell other people how to fix things than fixing things within yourself. Another line, "The past can't haunt me if I don't let it. Live and learn and never forget it" lets people know that things in the past can only affect you if you let them. While that is easier said than done, Kesha recognizes the importance in reminding people of this. In the bridge, she sings, "I'm done reliving my bad decisions. I see now maybe there's a reason. Why, I, I, I, I, I, I been through hell and back. Yeah, honestly, it's what made me who I am. Holding on to wasted time. Gotta learn to let go in life." She truly embodies the whole song by showing people that this is an ongoing process, but something you learn by doing. The whole song is not only about Kesha's journey to finding how to let go, but helping others do the same. In her personal essay for "Learn To Let Go", she talks about her experience writing the song. She writes,
"Learn to Let Go" is more than a song title... it's become one of my mantras over the last few years. As much as our past creates who we are, we can't let it define us or hold us back. And especially if you've been through something hard, and we all have, you can't hold on to resentment because it's like poison. You have to learn to let go of those bad feelings and move forward.
The song "Woman" is an inspiring anthem about being a woman and how that is something you should never be ashamed of. While the lyrics can come off less meaningful than the rest of the song on the album, the meaning is there. Kesha sings in the chorus, "I'm a motherfucking woman, baby, alright. I don't need a man to be holding me too tight. I'm a motherfucking woman, baby, that's right. I'm just having fun with my ladies here tonight," repeatedly telling girls and women listening that no matter what anyone tells you, you don't need a man to make you happy. Being a woman will never be a weakness, no matter how hard society tries to make it one. She writes in her personal essay about "Woman,"
I have always been a feminist, but for much of my life I felt like a little girl trying to figure things out. In the past few years, I have felt like a woman more than ever. I just feel the strength and awesomeness and power of being female. We hold the key to humanity. We decide if we populate the Earth, and if so, with whom. We could just decide not to have any more kids and the human race would be over. That is power. I just really fucking love being a woman and I wanted an anthem for anyone else who wants to yell about being self-sufficient and strong. (Yes, men, this song can be for you too.)
The song which shares the title of the album, "Rainbow", is about the hope that things will one day get better. When listening to the song, one gets an overwhelming feeling that no matter what is going on right now, that things can improve and you will overcome whatever it is you are going through. Specific lyrics like, "Yeah, maybe my head's fucked up. But I'm falling right back in love with being alive" show that it is possible to come back from struggles and tragedy. In the second verse, Kesha sings, "I'd forgot how to daydream. So consumed with the wrong things. But in the dark, I realized this life is short ... I can't lose hope, what's left of my heart's still made of gold." These specific lines of the song really show what it is like to be in a dark place where you feel like there may never be light again, but that there is hope. That even with a mangled heart there is a time for change and happiness. In the chorus, she sings, "I found a rainbow, rainbow, baby. Trust me, I know life is scary. But just put those colors on, girl. You gotta learn to let go, put the past behind you. Trust me, I know, the ghosts will try to find you. But just put those colors on, girl." Kesha knows what it is like to go through something that makes you lose hope of things ever getting better, but she's here to show us all that you can find a rainbow in darkness. Her personal essay about "Rainbow" reflects on her time in rehab and the promises she made herself in there. Writing,
“Rainbow” was the beginning. That song and the lyrics were a letter to myself promising that I was going to take care of myself going forward and that I was going to be okay. ... “Rainbow” was the first song I wrote for this record. I wanted to call the album Rainbow because after the storm, there’s a rainbow — and recently, I feel like I’ve gone through some things that have felt like a storm in my life. This was my way of telling myself that I was going to make it through. I made the decision to take the dollar sign out of my name. I did away with my cynical self-deprecating “I don't give a fuck” attitude and the matching Twitter name @keshasuxx. I let myself be 100% genuine, vulnerable, and honest in my music. I used to be very mean to myself. Rainbow is my letter of encouragement, a promise that I want to start a new dialogue and be more supportive and nicer to myself.
At the end of the day, we all have much to learn from Kesha. She bared her soul to us in the album in hopes to impact someone somewhere so they know they aren't alone. I know that when I listen to this album I feel like I'm not alone in my struggles and there are people who understand me and what I'm going through. While you might get a different message altogether from her newest songs, that is the beauty of music. We can all gain something completely different from one song or album, but have it impact us in a positive way.