There’s a belief shared among people of a certain faith that the LGBTQ+ community has taken God’s promise to never flood the Earth again — the rainbow — and turned it into a pride symbol and flag.
There’s undoubtedly a spiritual theme present throughout Rainbow, Kesha’s first album in five years. Two songs are named “Praying” and “Hymn,” and while nothing is overtly religious, she plays off of tropes like sin and repentance.
Once released, the single “Praying” gave fans their first taste of the album. It’s a moving fight song that packs a punch to the gut, representing Rainbow well. The music video highlights the colors of the rainbow in outfits, makeup, paint, and even feathers.
She emotionally sings:
Oh, sometimes I pray for you at night
Someday, maybe you’ll see the light
Oh, some say, in life, you’re gonna get what you give
But some things only God can forgive
This chorus metaphorically brings up the transgressions of man while considering forgiveness for one’s own self peace, not for others. Something Kesha knows about.
The other songs don’t disappoint, either. “Woman” is a strong track that declares Kesha’s independence, while maintaining her fun spirit fans first fell in love with through her older classics like “TiK ToK” and “Come On.”
A major difference, however, is her vocal and lyrical maturity. She’s challenging herself and, in the process, has proved what an intelligent musician she is — for those who didn’t already believe it. The ingenuity of Rainbow is that it has the potential to attract and satisfy longtime Kesha followers and new converts. She was and remains a powerful vocalist. By experimenting with different styles and instruments, Kesha brings some news sounds to her already impressive table.
In the title track, her voice is soft but forceful and is complemented nicely by the accompanying piano and stringed instruments. Similar to the song, “Learn to Let Go,” Kesha tells herself to push the past out of sight.
While Rainbow definitely carries a torch toward new beginnings with its ballads, there are other messages and motifs. Interestingly, almost half of the 14-track album resembles folksy or country music of the banjo-wielding persuasion. “Old Flames (Can’t Hold a Candle to You)”even features Dolly Parton. Kesha’s soulful voice and old soul-look, which features her big blonde hair and bellbottom pant suits, is reminiscent of a previous era. There are times in Rainbow’s music videos and tracks when she looks and sounds like Janis Joplin.
It’s hard to explain the album with just one word or sound, because it does a lot. It’s a hard-working album. While she’s not making some evangelical point here, Kesha does provide a more accepting hymnal. By singing about faith and forgiveness — and also saying its okay to not have a religion — Rainbow is a meta-representation of what one chooses to believe in and practice. It’s fun and spiritual and strong and sad and goofy.
Her humor especially shines through in the campy track “Hunt You Down,” and “Godzilla,” which is a weird, creative take on the children’s book, If You Give a Mouse a Cookie.
The weight of the album in its entirety is heavy because of the personal connotations. That’s where the fuck you part comes from. This message is likely intended for her former producer, Dr. Luke, whom Kesha pressed charges against for assaulting her. After several court appearances, Kesha was prohibited from making music per her contract until she dropped the charges. While Dr. Luke is no longer the CEO of Kemosabe Records, he still works for Sony, which is another problem all on its own.
Kesha’s return is sweet on its own, even without the redemption. But it does make it sweeter.