Kesha: The Grammys got it wrong

Photo by Olivia Bee

Photo courtesy of RCA Records.

Aly Beach and Michael Bromby

The Chronicle


Kesha should have won best pop solo performance at the 2018 Grammy Awards for her song “Praying.” She earned it.

“Praying” is a testament to what she’s dealt with and has become an anthem for others who have suffered through abuse and sexual violence.

In 2014, Kesha filed a lawsuit against her producer Dr. Luke (Lukasz Gottwald) accusing him of “mental manipulation, emotional abuse and sexual assault” as well as rape.

In 2016, Sony denied Kesha’s request to leave her recording contract, which stipulated she had to work with Dr. Luke as her producer.

In August 2016, Kesha dropped the case against Luke, citing all she wanted to do was make music. She didn’t want to fight anymore.

She is currently working with Kemosabe records and RCA. Both are connected to Sony and Dr. Luke, who will gain from this deal but she does not have to work with him personally.  Luke allegedly threatened the artist’s career would be over if she ever spoke about the abuse.

Kesha wrote “Praying” as way to cope. In the song, she alludes to the abuse when she sings, “‘Cause you brought the flames and you put me through hell / I had to learn how to fight for myself / And we both know all the truth I could tell.”

“Praying” has become an anthem to abuse and sexual violence survivors. Her song allows people to come to terms with what happened to them while still allowing them to still be hurt and angry.

“And I don’t need you, I found a strength I’ve never known / I’ll bring thunder, I’ll bring rain, oh / When I’m finished, they won’t even know your name”

The raw emotion and vocal prowess Kesha portrays should have been enough to win best pop solo performance at the Grammys. But it was not. “Praying” lost to Ed Sheeran’s “Shape of You”.

Elton John was supposed to be honoured with a life time achievement award but refused to perform unless Sheeran was nominated.  Kesha lost both best pop solo performance and best pop vocal album against Sheeran. Despite Elton John’s idle threat, he performed with Miley Cyrus.

If you compare the lyrics and meaning of Sheeran’s “Shape of You” and Kesha’s “Praying,” it is clear the Recording Academy chose to award a song about sexualizing women over a song which empowers women who have experienced abuse or sexual violence.

The Grammy Awards chose the wrong winner.

Kesha winning best pop solo performance would have shown that the Grammys support the #MeToo movement. This would have sent a message that sexual harassment, abuse and sexual violence of any kind is not tolerated within the music industry.

Simply having her perform, no matter how powerful the performance, did not send this message.  Kesha performed with pop singers Cyndi Lauper, Camilla Cabello, Andra Day, Julia Michaels, and Bebe Rexha.

The prestigious Grammy awards should have taken a stand against abuse and sexual violence. Let’s pray they do someday.