Home Entertainment Kesha Challenges Pop Music Standards with ‘High Road’

Kesha Challenges Pop Music Standards with ‘High Road’

by Z.W. Gleason

Kesha proves on her fourth studio album “High Road” that you can have your cake and eat it too. High Road’s 15 genre-hopping tracks are Kesha’s way of showing others the “rainbow” after the storm.

Kesha Rose Sebert, mononymously known as Kesha, is remembered for her chart-topping club anthems from the early 2010s. Kesha’s debut singles “Tik Tok” and “Blow” earned her a wild, fun party girl reputation.

Kesha released her third album, “Rainbow” in 2017, following five years of silence and a lawsuit involving her former producer. Kesha purposely left the raging club music off “Rainbow,” as some believe the album carried more emotional gravity than a pop album.

“High Road,” released on Jan. 31, refers to walking a moral and spiritual high road, as well as a much more terrestrial type of high. There’s something for everyone, as her lyrics discuss soul searching, partying, existential crises and growing potatoes on a far away island.

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Kesha first came into mainstream prominence with party anthems such “Tik Tok.” Photo courtesy of RCA Records

“High Road” blends the genres and energy of Kesha’s first three albums, as a result both “Kesha” and her former persona “Ke$ha” are heard on many of the tracks. The singer knows “Ke$ha” will always be a part of her public image because of where she started, and refuses to be miserable all the time despite the bad things she has experienced in the past.

“Tonight,” the first track on “High Road,” begins as a belting ballad, and promptly breaks out the reverberating bass and auto-tuned rap Kesha was made famous by. The last minute of the song has some country influences, and foreshadows the genres and styles of the tracks to follow. Though Kesha’s music has always covered a wide variety of themes and styles, “High Road” challenges the industry definitions of pop.

The second track on the album, “My Own Dance,” is a meta song about Kesha’s awareness of her own public image and how she’s dealing with it. She knows club-worthy music will put her at the top of the charts again and while giving the masses what they want, she remains true to herself. This song is a rejection of the pop music status quo, but still implements at the same time conforming to the standard party-pop formula.

“Shadow,” the sister piano ballad to “Rainbow,” exhibits Kesha’s empathy and vocal prowess. After wrestling with self-acceptance, Kesha understands being your unexaggerated self is a revolutionary behavior. While expressing emotions in her songs, ranging from powerful anthems to swearing, she tells the people looking to throw shade that they’re in the wrong place.

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Kesha’s latest album “High Road” is a genre-blending pop record. Photo courtesy of RCA Records

“Cowboy Blues” is a country-style ukulele lullaby, showcasing Kesha’s knack for storytelling. The track is crafted so the listener feels like they are witnessing Kesha’s stream of consciousness as she writes the lyrics. In one large breath, she admits she often finds herself in bed with her three cats questioning the meaning of life. Kesha can’t stop thinking about a guy she shot whiskey with at a Nashville dive bar, and wonders if life would be better if she had taken a chance that night.

“Resentment” pairs an acoustic melody with a bitter sweet narration of a complicated relationship. As one of the more personal tracks on the album, the lyrics explore a tense dichotomy between love and resentment, resulting in a feeling of emotional healing.

“Father Daughter Dance” investigates Kesha’s nonexistent relationship with her father. Her father has always been a stranger, and Kesha doesn’t know how to miss something she never had to begin with. The floodgates open and out pour the shame, guilt, resentment and questions Kesha has for her father. Though this track was not originally supposed to be on the record, it is admirable how Kesha allows herself to be vulnerable through her music.

According to Kesha, being a strong woman does not mean being strong every minute of every day. Taking the high road means being honest with yourself, an example Kesha is setting for her fans on her latest album.

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