Kesha rocked the music world in October 2014 when she sued her longtime producer, Dr. Luke, for emotional and physical abuse. Their legal battle played out publicly for two years and reached a devastating fever pitch in April 2016, when a judge rejected all of Kesha’s claims against Dr. Luke. To say Kesha has been distressed by this situation would be a grave understatement. The singer says she’s battled intense depression and hopelessness because of it — but she’s on the other side now. She’s stronger and more triumphant than ever, and that permeates in her new single, “Praying,” her first in nearly four years.
“Praying” is a psychedelic and very emotional power ballad — a far cry from the Auto-Tuned dance fluff from her first two albums. Kesha swaps glitter and Jack Daniels for vulnerability on “Praying,” which runs a little over five minutes. It’s a song about navigating the darkest parts of life to find the light — a topic Kesha herself knows quite well.
“Am I dead? Or is this one of those dreams?” Kesha says in the beginning of the song. “Those horrible dreams that seem like they last forever? If I am alive, why? If there is a God or whatever, something, somewhere, why have I been abandoned by everyone and everything I’ve ever known? I’ve ever loved? Stranded. What is the lesson? What is the point? God, give me a sign, or I have to give up. I can’t do this anymore. Please just let me die. Being alive hurts too much.”
The pop star expanded on the song’s powerful message in an essay for 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.”
She continues, “It’s from our darkest moments that we gain the most strength. There were so many days, months even, when I didn’t want to get out of bed. I spent all day wanting to go to sleep, and then when I did fall asleep, I had horrible night terrors where I would physically cry and scream through the dark. I was never at peace, night or day. But I dragged myself out of bed and took my emotions to the studio and made art out of them.”
Check out the song (as well as the music video) for yourself, below:
“Praying” is the lead single off Kesha’s upcoming studio album, Rainbow, which comes out August 11.