Hello and welcome back to protest anthems, the podcast about all things music, social justice, and protests. In 2017 for the first time in over four years Kesha finally broke her silence and released a new single called “Praying.” As Sophie Tallarida discusses in todays episode, “Praying” shows Kesha’s empowerment and liberation. It demonstrates how she grew from her dark times and was able to come back renewed, stronger than ever. Not letting one situation define her. Kesha’s four years of not releasing any music was because of a sexual assault lawsuit against her producer Dr.Luke. Her contract didn’t allow her to release any music, so she was struggling and wasn’t allowed to do something she loves. Through the release of “Praying” Kesha is seen as a role model for others going through similar struggles.
“Praying” is all about empowerment. This is Kesha’s first song in four years and you can feel the emotions and heart that went into the song.The music video connects and brings to life power and meaning. You get to experience all of the emotions that Kesha went through. The video starts out with darker imagery and slowly progresses into more light and color. It takes you through the negative experience she had and shows you how she took that and grew stronger because of it. She went from feelings of darkness to empowering herself into this woman of bright color.
In an interview with the Zac Sand Show on Youtube, Kesha discusses what releasing this song means to her. She discusses how she was nervous to release “Praying” but at the same time was excited. Before releasing praying, Kesha, had not released music in years so doing so came with a lot of emotions. This song in particular was one that she put a lot of heart into. The song means to much and she put so much into it, She discusses who the video and the song have so much emotion to them. It was a “cathartic” experience. In the interview she discusses who song writing is therapeutic for her, therefore releasing the song was a therapeutic experience.
At the beginning of the music video you hear a powerful monologue from Kesha. As the monologue is playing everything is dark. You see Kesha in a casket with a man on each side of her who are dressed in suites with these creepy graphic pig heads on. It then transitions to her laying on a raft in the middle of the ocean, the image is in black and white.
Once the monologue is over the song begins. The video takes you through a journey. The imagery goes from being dark more dreary imagery and transforms into this more colorful experience. You can feel the emotions that are being represented. Throughout the video Kesha is seen having trouble standing, getting frustrated, running, and fighting off the men with the pig heads. As the video goes on you see her slowly gaining more strength. She starts out laying on this raft not moving and by the end of the video she has stood up and is walking towards the light. The imagery from the video goes along perfectly with the song. As the song goes on it gets more and more powerful.
Everything happening within the video is alluding to the experience she had. Having been in these dark times and working through this pain to come out into this colorful world again. How she found hope in all of the darkness: In a letter from Lenny Letters, Kesha wrote:
“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. If you have love and truth on your side, you will never be defeated. Don’t give up on yourself.”
That’s Kesha writing about getting through the times of self doubt when you feel alone, its her letting people know they have the strength to push through, that things will turn around even if it doesn’t seem like they will. That was published on Lenny Letter around the time the song was released. This quote represents exactly what this song is about. It is giving people hope. The music video represents this experience. It walks you through all that happened in terms of what she was feeling. Creating music is her therapy.
Throughout the music video there is powerful imagery that is being shown. The video was directed by Jonas Åkerlund and was released at the same time as the single. There is this one part of the video at about 1 minute 30 seconds here you see Kesha in a bright blue hat and sweater with metallic silver leggings and platform heals, she’s walking while carrying a bat. She is walking in front of a bunch of TVs that have all these different sayings written in bright red: “Be like TV,” “Standard of Beauty,” “Need a Man,” “Media vs You” and so many more phases that embody insecurities and make people insecure.
This is a powerful part of the video. It shows all these standards and ways people in society are upheld and as the video goes on she starts smashing the TV screens with the bat. This is an extremely uplift part of the video. It demonstrates Kesha fighting back. Showcasing that she has been put down by all of these insecurities for so long and is no longer letting them control her and neither should anybody else.Throughout the music video there are several signs for hope and a brighter future.
You have the video come to life with all of the vibrant colors. The symbols of the butterfly on some of her clothing representing the coming out of the darkness like a butterfly comes out of its cocoon. As well as the colorful bird and the whale as signs of brighter days to come. The video ends with her getting up from the raft that was lost at sea and walking towards a brighter rainbow, this image is in color.
Kesha discusses being resentful in another part of her interview with the Zac Sang Show. She talks about how being resentful is “like drinking poison.” It just makes it worse for yourself, it is not helping you in any way. Forgiving and moving on, she says is the best way to heal yourself. Kesha discusses how forgiveness is important for happiness. The song takes you on an emotional journey. “Sometimes I pray for you at night” she discussed, is an important line for her. The hard part in her healing process was to learn how to want happiness for people that have hurt you.
The impact and meaning behind a song is always something that can be difficult to interpret. We can learn a lot from what an artist is trying to convey by breaking down the lyrics. By trying to interpret what the meaning behind the words are. “Praying” is a meaningful song. It has power to it and an empowering message.
I hope your soul is changin’, changin’
I hope you find your peace
Falling on your knees, prayin’.”
This song is about someone finding peace. Hoping that others can find it too. Finding the strength to pray and find growth and healing. In order to get the peace you want you need to learn to love yourself. Its about finding empathy. Seeing that people make others feel down because they themselves are struggling. Finding hope, and peace, and love within yourself and turning that love into loving other.
In a different part of the interview with the Zac Sang Show, Kesha discusses her personal growth and healing. She talks about the ways in which she has healed herself. In the interview she mentions how she believes the world would be full of less hate if we could all learn to love ourselves. It takes a lot for someone to learn to love themselves and she discusses this from her experience. She explains how for a long time she didn’t know how to love herself and she had to learn how to. She found a lot more peace. Having empathy for people is what she truly believes in. Hoping that those that feel down on themselves and hurt others can learn to love themselves and find peace.
“Praying” was released on July 6, 2017, preceding the #MeToo Movement by a few months and in some ways anticipating it and in some ways showing other women–especially other celebrities–that they, too, could speak out. From an article written on Brit+Co it says “The #MeToo movement has gained international traction since actress and activist Alyssa Milano helped bring new awareness to activist Tarana Burke’s decade-old campaign in late 2017, after a floodgate of sexual abuse allegations opened against Hollywood heavyweight Harvey Weinstein.” This encourages many woman, including celebrities, to speak out about their experiences with sexual abuse. There are many that came forward to share there stories. Amongst those people includes Reese Witherspoon, America Ferrera, Jennifer Lawrence, Lady Gaga, Thandie Newton, and so many more. This movement and people speaking out about their experiences is a longtime coming. Kesha in no way was the originator of this movement, but hearing her song and her story and seeing how she has grown so much from it can give other the courage to also speak out. It shows celebrities that they too should be ones to speak out, they can encourage others to find the strength and grow and put it all behind them. People speaking out, overcoming and growing from their experiences is what “Praying” is all about. It is all about woman empowerment and liberation.