Pop star Kesha has found religion. Today the 30-year-old singer released "Praying," her first single in almost four years. The emotional song and accompanying video tell the story of strength and forgiveness, and Kesha wrote extensively about the feelings that spurred the creation of the song (which was co-written by Macklemore's Ryan Lewis, according to Variety) on Lena Dunham's site, Lenny Letter.
Despite her never mentioning him by name, Kesha fans will figure out that this song is about Sony producer, Dr. Luke (real name Lukasz Sebastian Gottwald), who Kesha claims abused her sexually and emotionally throughout their time working together.
In her essay, Kesha writes that she's "channeled [her] feelings of severe hopelessness and depression," and finally found strength and peace. The song, she says, is about being able to "feel empathy for someone else even if they hurt you or scare you. . . It's also about hoping everyone, even someone who hurt you, can heal." It's pretty clear from this and from the song's lyrics that the person to whom she's referring in this specific case is Dr. Luke, but at the same time, it could really apply to anyone.
Kesha writes that her deep depression caused her to "turn to prayer, or something like it." The video features Christian imagery like crosses, angels, sacred hearts, and a crown of thorns, but to Kesha, God is "not a bearded man sitting in the clouds or a judgmental, homophobic tyrant waiting to send everyone to eternal damnation. God is nature and space and energy and the universe."
For me, God is My own interpretation of spirituality isn't important, because we all have our own. What matters is that I have something greater than me as an individual that helps bring me peace. This is one of the reasons why I love swimming way, way out into the middle of the ocean and just letting the sea carry my body. It is my greatest form of surrender to the universe, a full-body prayer — or meditation.
That moment of surrendering herself to the ocean is part of how the video for "Praying" starts. In black and white, Kesha floats on wreckage in the middle of the sea. Before the music starts, she speaks: "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."
But through prayer (and music), Kesha is able to survive. She writes that the song is about "finding peace in the fact that I can't control everything — because trying to control everyone was killing me."
Check out the song (above) and read the rest of Kesha's soul-baring and inspiring essay on Lenny Letter.