Kesha hasn’t released new music since 2012, and in the years since we have sorely missed our favourite party girl being on the scene with her outlandish personality. With a darker story bubbling under the surface we’re taking a look back at the short but impactful career of this pop star.
Kesha Rose Sebert first came to our attention without us even realising in 2005 as her family featured on an episode of the mother of all reality television The Simple Life. This same year, at just 18 the singer was signed to producer Dr. Luke’s label Kemosabe Records.
With her foot in the door she sang back up on Paris Hilton’s “Nothing in This World” while continuing to write songs for larger artists and sing back up on certain tracks in the following years. She even featured in Katy Perry’s debut music video “I Kissed A Girl. Around this time she was struggling as a waitress, where she coined the infamous doll sign in her name as an ironic gesture.
In 2009 she received mainstream media attention for her accidental feature on the number one Flo Rida track “Right Round”. Having been in the studio at the same time he was looking for a female voice she offered to oblige, though received no credit or payment for her contribution.
With this increase in prominence Dr Luke agreed to executive produce the album she had been working on these past years. Cutting the record from over 200 songs she had written, in 2010 she released Animal. Her lead single “Tik Tok” topped the charts for nine consecutive weeks breaking records and becoming certified 5× platinum.
From here the public were hooked and her album debut at number one. Her subsequent singles “Blah Blah Blah”, “Your Love Is My Drug” and “Take It Off” achieved similar commercial success topping the charts around the world.
Her performance aesthetic and choice of wardrobe made her a deeply polarising figure, with some celebrating her carefree attitude while others saw her as a sloppy, unpolished party girl with silly auto tuned music. Despite this, the young star had a great deal of contribution in her music, writing her own lyrics and creative directing her style.
Despite only being seen as a mindless mess, Kesha used her platform for good as she raised awareness for a host of animal-centric issues and charities including: cosmetics testing on animals, shark finning, clubbing baby seals and McDonalds slaughterhouses. Though these accomplishments were far less documented in the media.
By the end of 2010 she released an EP Cannibal which also saw great success, and included singles “Blow” and “We R Who We R”, the latter reaching number one.
2011 saw Kesha embark on her first headlong tour entitled Get $leazy Tour. Again, the venture was an astounding success, selling out and receiving mixed to positive reviews for the controversial star.
In 2012, the singer released another album Warrior, with the lead single “Die Young” hitting number two on the charts. Alongside the release of the album she released an autobiography My Crazy, Beautiful Life.
While the album performed well, the second single “C’mon” under performed on the charts reaching only 27, with follow up “Crazy Kids” peaking at 40. It was not long until she hit her stride again with a number one collaboration with Pitbull “Timber”.
In 2013 she starred in an MTV docu-series My Crazy, Beautiful Life detailing her day to day life as a pop star as well as her relationship with her family, friends and fans. It was here she revealed that she had lost a lot of her creative input on her last album to Dr Luke, and that many of her favourite tracks were scrapped from the record as he wanted to keep up her successful image.
By the end of the year fans had begun a petition to free her from his labels as he was stunting her growth as an artist, in hopes that she could find a new record deal and be more involved in the direction of her music. Kesha’s mother Pebe was vocal about the issue, with Kesha herself stating an earlier collaboration with The Flaming Lips was scrapped by the powers above her, against her will.
In January 2014, Kesha checked into Timberline Knolls Residential Treatment Center for an eating disorder treatment. Kesha’s mother Pebe later confirmed that Kesha was suffering with is bulimia nervosa and had been since she was signed. She also alleged that Dr. Luke was partly the reason behind it, stating that he had told her to lose weight after signing and asserted that he had compared the shape of her body to a refrigerator.
By March 2014, Kesha had completed her treatment after spending two months in the rehab centre. The star then chose to drop the dollar sign from her name, and go by her birth name, Kesha. During this time her wild style seemed to have subsided and her ‘trashy’ attire was replaced with a sleeker look, but still with some edge.
In June 2014, Kesha gained the role as an expert on ABC’s Rising Star alongside Brad Paisley and Ludacris. At this point in time it was popular for stars to judge singing competitions, though the technological format of the show was too much for viewers and competition was canned after the first season.
Over the following months the singer kept a low profile, and we had not had chance to realise she was off the map until the tragic news hit headlines – Kesha sued producer Dr. Luke for alleged sexual assault and battery, sexual harassment, gender violence, and emotional abuse.
It is October 2014 and news of the trial begins to circle the internet, She claimed that Dr. Luke repeatedly drugged her, with and without her consent, and that his abuse caused her eating disorder. Due to this she also requested to break contract with the producer.
In retaliation Dr. Luke countersued for defamation, accusing her, her mother, and her management of fabricating the abuse claims in order to break her contract with him. He later sued her lawyer for further defamation.
Months of relentless back and forth ensued, including a further suit against Sony, as Kesha’s team believes they knew about Luke’s philandering ways with multiple artists yet turned a blind eye. At New York Fashion Week in February 2015, Kesha wore a dress with the words “You Will Never Own Me” emblazoned across it.
While much of the internet has displayed support to Kesha, often trending the words #FreeKesha, on February 19, 2016 she lost her preliminary injunction to release her from Dr Lukes label. Fellow artists such as Lily Allen, Ariana Grande, Kelly Clarkson, Lady Gaga, Lorde, Hasley, Wale and Jo Jo, among several others, all tweeted out in protest of the ruling and in support of the victim.
The preliminary injunction loss means that if Kesha decides to make new music, she will have to do so through Sony. “My instinct is to do the commercially reasonable thing,” ruled Supreme Court Justice Shirley Kornreich without emotion as Kesha sat sobbing in the stands.
The star tweeted out to her supporters “thank you for all the support in my legal case animals. i love all of you. it’s meant the world to me. xoxo”
All Kesha ever wanted as an artist was to spread love and positivity, and for us all to let loose and have a good time. She is a member of the LGBT community, identifying as bisexual and is an avid activist. An ordained minister she has performed legal ceremonies for several gay marriages.
On her gay fan base she said: “There’s just an energy to a gay man — it’s not really comparable to any other people, you guys just exude just this happiness.”
“They’re just gorgeous. And their love of life is amazing. They’re just…really magical people.”
She has loved us all with her entire being since long before she first blew up. As a human Kesha deserves to be treated with respect, and to pursue her art safely and without limitations. The court ruling is a travesty. For this we stand with Kesha. #FreeKesha