Tone Deaf: What Does the Program Director Listen to?
In honour of domestic violence awareness week on campus, this issue’s album is from an artist who is a survivor of sexual violence who shares her story and gives advice through dance-pop and color. Rainbow by Kesha is a heartfelt, uplifting, and lively album that is sure to get one feeling powerful and unstoppable by the end of it.
Kesha’s message is one of carefree joy and universal acceptance for all those who are unjustly discriminated against or taken advantage of, and reminds people to laugh in the face of hate and adversity. Rainbow takes the listener on a journey of self love and recovery through pop-country fueled bangers and heartstring tugging ballads.
The first few songs, like many other on this LP, follow the cannon of not worrying about what other people say or think and being unapologetically yourself. Kesha lets the naysayer and instigators know that she wouldn’t let them get to her down any longer and she is above their vile remarks. In her song “Let ‘Em Talk” , she taunts those cynics by telling them to “do [their] worst, ’cause nothing’s gonna stop [her] now.” Kesha refuses to let anyone get in the way of her new found joy and purpose.
The third song on Rainbow is a quintessential carelessly joyful empowerment song. Kesha’s “Woman” is entirely dedicated to her pride in being a woman and an individual free to make her own decisions and live the way she wants. This fun infectious tune get’s the listener in the spirit to move, laugh, and turn down drinks from that guy at the bar who keeps trying to dance with you.
Rainbow then takes on a weighty tone with an album favorite “Hymn.” Powerful, raw, stand-alone, “Hymn” is a piece that’s filled with emotion. It reminds all who’ve faced adversity that they are not alone and are absolutely not less than. It’s a call to “keep on sinning, (…) keep on singing,” and keep on being who one is, regardless of what others may say or think. You are you, and you don’t need to be forgiven for it.
Along with “Hymn,” the next trio of songs are also down tempo and intimate. As a survivor, Kesha shares her struggle of coping with her trauma and the hardship it created. She learned to reject the manipulative and belittling speech that her former abusers used to control her, and proceeds to steadily rewrite the internal negative monolog with one of positive perspective and self respect.
In her song “Learn to Let Go,” Kesha exemplifies that latter point in the pre-chorus “Life ain’t always fair, but hell is living in resentment/Choose redemption/Your happy ending’s up to you.” She acknowledges how hard it is to go through something utterly horrendous and come out on the other side not sure where to go or what to do, but, by recognizing one’s fate is entirely in one’s hands, one is free to live how they wish and can decide how to live out their happy ending.
No true album is complete without a love song, and Kesha gives us one of the best ones yet. “Rainbow” the a sad smile tear spilling anthem for anyone who’s faced the bottom of the pit and lived to tell the tale. It’s an active promise to oneself that they will become who they want to be. Like “Learn to Let Go,” “Rainbow” is about acknowledging life can be unjust and tumultuous, but what one does with that experience is what defines them. The inspiration behind the album, the tour, and Kesha’s come back as a being of colour and life can be attributed to “Rainbow.”
Kesha says farewell to the listener and everyone else on earth with “Spaceship,” the last song on Rainbow, which announces that she will be taken her away from this harsh plain and sent back to the home where she belongs. Maybe it sounds a little out there, but Kesha message is still the same as it’s been throughout the LP, she was never made to live in such cruelness, so she’d rather move to a different realm of existence where others negativity and meanness can no longer touch her.
As we say goodbye to this adventure of heart, dance, and colour, and we feel lighter and more powerful than when we began. You’ve lived your trauma, and you’ve come out alive, now you get to go somewhere better, where you can dance, sing, and laugh without worry–above the world.