Kesha Takes the “High Road” in her Life

Reem Abouchleih, Scarlet Staff

Trigger Warning: mentions sexual assault 

 

Kesha is back and better than ever. Last month, the songstress released, “High Road,” her first album since 2017’s groundbreaking “Rainbow”. 

She shocked the world with “Rainbow,” which reveals her brutally honest (and often sad) experience in the music industry. She spoke to NPR, saying, “This whole album, for me, really is a healing album,” she said. “It’s healing from so many things from my past and just trying to get back to the most childlike, naive, purest version of myself that I can find — the most free-spirited, un-jaded version of myself.” 

“High Road” includes all of the loveable, iconic, party-girl moments of the 2010s with songs like “Tonight,” “My Own Dance,” and “Kinky,” but also continues the honesty of 2017’s “Rainbow with Resentment,” “Father Daughter Dance,” and “Honey.” “High Road” cannot be categorized into a single genre: party-pop ballads, country pop, and rap bops are all featured. 

The album’s beauty comes in that it aims to include everyone and establishes Kesha’s new reputation as a woman who won’t be controlled by the public or her record label. In all sixteen tracks, there is an underlying message of accepting yourself and others. 

Kesha has been in a never-ending lawsuit battle with producer Lukasz Gottwald, known as “Dr. Luke” since suing him in a California court for sexual assault and battery in 2014. The “Tik Tok” singer said that the goal of suing Dr. Luke is to free herself from producing music for Kemosabe Records, to stop making money for the people who abused her. Kesha reported that Dr. Luke’s constant abuse caused her “severe depression, post-traumatic stress, social isolation, and panic attacks.” The same day, Dr. Luke countersued Kesha in a New York court for defamation of character. 

To summarize the following six years, the New York State Supreme Court dismissed Kesha’s request to nullify her contract with Kemosabe. In 2016, Kesha dropped her lawsuit as she wanted to release her own music. She released “Rainbow” in 2017 via Kemosabe. 

Judge Jennifer Schecter commented on the current state of the case: “Kesha and Gottwald have very different accounts about what happened on the night at issue. This court cannot decide, as a matter of law on papers and without any assessment of credibility, who should be believed.” In January 2020, she released “High Road,” her second album, without Dr. Luke’s involvement. 

The album opener, “Tonight,” establishes that Kesha is back to party, telling tales of her friends on wild nights. She claps back at her haters with “My Own Dance,” singing, “You’re the party girl, you’re the tragedy/But the funny thing’s /I’m f**king everything/I don’t do that dance/ I only do my own dance.” Kesha speaks to the LGBTQ+ community in “Raising Hell,” with her lyrics, “Take this as your holy validation/You don’t need to hide your celebratin’/This is our salvation.”

Many of the songs on “High Road” like the title track, “Potato Song,” and “Birthday Suit” are completely chaotic, but in the best way possible. Considering we grew up in a generation where Kesha was seen as the “chaotic party girl,” this seems like a natural progression in her music career. 

Kesha has never sounded freer than on “High Road.” While listening, I didn’t skip any songs; each track had replay value on the record. I can’t wait to see the upcoming music videos and Kesha on her upcoming tour, which begins in April and comes to New England in late May.