How Courtney Love Weirdly Predicted Kesha's Sorry Future
Courtney Love always seems to have an opinion on today's female starlets, whether positive or negative. However her reaction to Kesha when she first came on the music scene was downright strange. She started expressing her concern for Kesha who happened to have the #1 song Tik Tok on the Billboard Hot 100 and the #1 album Animal at the time. She sent Kesha several concerned and rather bizarre tweets questioning whether she was really interested in music or just fame and money. These are just a few:
"@Keshasuxx i am trying to figure out if your a product of DR Luke or a real thing, i know you tried Country . Rock, ALt, etc, explain please
@Keshasuxx not slamming you, yr tall and pretty very tall and very pretty and i don't know what you're here for. Fame itself? do you LIKE music
i was merely attempting to help you see a different side of music where the music comes 1st not the marketing not the "lets try COUNTRY NOWso imho having a us#1 song is lovely but if there isn't a longterm plan in your SOUL not involving @Keshasuxx $$$ then its dross. wanna fix u@Keshasuxx listen to a Concrete Blonde song called "Still In Hollywood" from the rock demos someone dug up on you you could nail thatdr Luke took 5 years w @Keshasuxx trying every genre and now ive heard the rock and country stuff it took him 5 years its contrived ashell
when i was young young i just simply wantd to be"famous" my wish came sort of true, i served 0 purpose and was a miserable cunt in pain."
Kesha had recorded several country and rock songs before signing with Dr. Luke
It was all very strange and slightly misinformed. Kesha had actually done country, blues and rock music before signing with producer Dr. Luke when she was 18. Between the age of 15 and when her first album came out at age 22, she had written and recorded about 200 songs. But she'd actually worked with several producers. Some of those songs had been written and recorded with her older brother. Dr. Luke and Kesha had little contact with each other for much of the 4 years between signing her and the release of Tik Tok. All the genres Kesha had covered were her own doing and even her most recent album Warrior and EP Deconstructed cover several genres including country, rock, and folk pop.
Kesha's Soul Death
In January 2010, MTV covered the story and quoted Love:
"Ke$ha is in dire need of a vibe that matches her... shes being moulded into something not her that will fail. I want to save her...Sweetheart you make me go all maternal, I want to save you from the jaws of impermanence and soul death..."
MTV summed up with this:
"We’re not sure Courtney would be the first person we’d turn to for career advice. And given that Ke$ha is currently number one in the US album chart we’re not sure she needs it!"
Kesha was understandably a bit creeped out by the whole thing. She told Interview Magazine:
"Okay, um, that was just scary. Courtney Love is cool, but thank you, I think my soul is fine."
As strange as Courtney Love's words were they turned out to be weirdly prophetic. In early 2013, a Kesha demo called Dancing With the Devil leaked. In the song, she expresses regret for signing a contract with Dr. Luke.
"I sold my soul, it's a dead-end road
But there ain't no turning back
He's got my mind (You've got...)
He's got my soul (...hell to pay)
Mama, he won't let me go! (creepy laughter)"
Here was the soul death Love was talking about. The demo came out just a few months after Kesha tweeted she was FORCED TO sing her #2 smash Die Young. Kesha wanted to return to her rock and country roots on her 2nd album. She told interviewers she was going to bring guitar rock back to pop radio. Dr. Luke forced her to stick with the dance pop songs that had worked in the past and he was very heavy-handed about it. Several of the rock songs she had prepared for the album were rejected and she had to continually write and rewrite songs until enough material was approved. Due to the mish mash of genres, some reviewers picked up on the obvious creative struggle behind the making of the album. According to one reviewer:
"'Warrior' sounds like a compromise between the record Ke$ha wanted to make and the record Ke$ha's label wanted her to make. But there's little doubt over whose vision emerges victorious."
The Billboard reviewer said:
"Ke$ha seems to be fighting desperately to make another record entirely..."Warrior" is a pure pop album with rock influences, despite Ke$ha's attempts to make it the inverse."
She was also tiring of the party girl image telling the NY Times in late 2012:
"I’m known as a party girl, but I think it would be tragically boring to actually live that stereotype."
Innocence and Pills is an example of the kind of music Kesha would like to make if given creative freedom
The aftermath of having her vision for the album rejected is shown in her MTV show My Crazy Beautiful Life. She tells her brother at one point that she feels "incredibly different." She's being forced back into the Tik Tok formula but she's grown and is no longer the person who wrote that song. Love was oddly 100% right when she said:
"shes being moulded into something not her that will fail."
While some of her best songs like Love Into the Light, Last Goodbye, Gold Trans Am and Past Lives made it onto the album, only generic party songs were released as singles. Kesha was very frustrated and engaged in a bitter struggle with her record label. She constantly defied Luke in the hope she would get dropped. Fans backed her in the struggle. Any time Dr. Luke sent a tweet he got a barrage of responses from angry Kesha fans accusing him of enslaving her and demanding he drop her.
The Flaming Lips produced several tracks for Kesha. Past Lives is the only one that made it onto her album Warrior
The Cancellation of Lip$ha
Late in 2013, Wayne Coyne of the experimental rock band The Flaming Lips tweeted that a collaboration album Lip$ha between the group and Kesha had been cancelled. He said he couldn't say why but then retweeted a bunch of angry responses blaming the cancellation on Dr. Luke. The axing of the album came not long after Kesha had admitted in a Rolling Stone interview that she didn't have creative control over her career. She admitted that all her singles sounded the same and said she hoped she would be able to release a ballad or vulnerable song at some point. It seemed like Lip$ha was cancelled to punish her.
Kesha Enters Rehab
And things only got worse. At the beginning of January 2014, Kesha voluntarily checked into rehab to treat anorexia and bulimia. Her mother said she had developed the disorders at 18 due to pressure from Dr. Luke and her then manager David Sonenberg to slim down. Luke is said to have been verbally abusive. He apparently criticized and demeaned her all the time and is accused of calling her fat and disgusting. It's possible that the stress of her label fight worsened her mental condition leading her into an almost deadly downward spiral of starvation and purging. Her mother told People magazine:
"Basically Dr. Luke owns everything - her name, her rights. She can't pick her album covers, her singles, who she writes with. She's an amazing songwriter, but he won't use any of her songs...He once sat her down and said, 'You're nothing without me. You're not that pretty, you're not that good. You need me, I don't need you. You're going to do everything I say."
Love Into the Light is a song Kesha cared a lot about that did make it onto Warrior
In another interview she said:
"She wants to do the music she cares about…‘Tik Tok’ was really her. But she was like 20 and now she’s almost 27 and over it...She doesn’t want to be forced to make stupid pop music. Who knows, maybe she’ll do blue grass. Whatever she wants to do! She should have the right to choose. The people she’s working with don’t even want her opinion."
Update October 29, 2014: Kesha filed a lawsuit alleging Dr. Luke physically, sexually, emotionally and verbally abused her during their years working together. It was obvious from rumors going around the last couple of years that he was extremely controlling and they had a very toxic relationship but few fans realized things were that bad.
In the middle of 2012, Wayne Coyne posted a snippet of a song called You Control My Heart that The Flaming Lips were producing for Kesha. It quickly became a fan favorite but to the disappointment of many, it didn't make it onto her Warrior album. Fans were again excited for the song when Lip$ha was announced in April of 2013 and disappointed when it was canceled months later. Now everyone is eagerly awaiting the song again since it's been announced the album will be released when Kesha's legal problems are sorted out.
Why Did Courtney Love Focus on Kesha?
So, why did Love express so much concern for Kesha in particular? Perhaps she was troubled by someone who had come from a country and rock background doing dance music. Alice Cooper had the following to say about Kesha:
"I met (Ke$ha) at the Grammys and I immediately looked at her and went, 'This girl is not a pop diva. She's a rock singer.' She would much rather be the female Robert Plant than the next Britney Spears. Bob (Ezrin) said, 'Nobody's gonna expect Ke$ha on your album.' 'Great! Let's do it!'"
Perhaps Love picked up on this as well. If Kesha was a rock star at heart but making pop music simply because that's where the money and fame is, in Love's view that should be condemned (although some might claim this is hypocrisy after Love was accused of greed when she sued to gain control of Nirvana's music). If Kesha was in it for the music but tied to Dr. Luke, a purveyor of pop at it's most generic and commercial, then she would be in for a rude awakening. And that's exactly what happened when she decided to take her music in a more experimental direction. One entertainment site said about her label troubles:
"Poor Ke$ha. It ain't easy being a rock star disguised as a pop star."
When Pink Floyd and Alice Cooper producer Bob Ezrin signed the Free Kesha petition, he wrote about the importance of artistic freedom and letting artists control their own destinies:
"Ke$ha is one of the most talented singers I have ever worked with - and she is more than that: she's a real artist. In our business, this is rare and must always be celebrated and allowed to flourish...I do think that every real artist needs to be the author of their own destiny to be fulfilled. And they can be if they stand up make it so. I love K$ and think she is much stronger than even she may realize. I believe that she will rise above this and I am signing here to show my support and deep affection. B"
Excerpt from the Free Kesha Petition
Ke$ha is "forced" to work with the same collective group of people, through each record. Dr. Luke is controlling ke$ha like a puppet, feeding her what she doesn't want, and her creativity is dwindling and affected negativity.
Ke$ha makes it clear that her producer, Dr. Luke, is stunting her from growing as an artist by making her sing the same generic, predictable, recycled, pop song. Ke$ha also confesses that she has no say whatsoever in what makes the album not to mention what's released as a single which every artist should have a say in.
When Ke$ha, young and naïve at the age of 18, was signed to Luke's 8 album contract, it's obvious that she was unaware of the severe pop puppeteer act she was soon to play by. What our fear as her fans should be is that she will soon lose interest in playing this industry game and stop releasing music under the tyrannical finger of Dr. Luke.
Courtney Love had her own troubles with the music industry. Like Kesha is doing now with Kemosabe Records, Love refused to record any new material for her label Universal. According to the LA Times:
"Universal sued Love in January 2000, demanding compensation for five undelivered albums. Love countersued in February 2001, claiming that the record industry's long-term contracts violate California's so-called seven-year statute, which says entertainers cannot be tied to any company for more than seven years. If the artists' rights bill became law, it could introduce a free-agency system similar to ones in the film and sports industries. To avoid testing the law, record labels typically have agreed to rewrite the contracts of disgruntled stars."
Universal settled with Love rather than test the law. Thankfully Kesha didn't need Love's "maternal" help though. It was her own mother songwriter Pebe Sebert who led the fight against Dr. Luke to help win creative freedom for her daughter. Unlike Love who had a very troubled childhood, Kesha comes from a very unconventional but still stable background. She has a close and supportive family who stepped in to fight for her.
And say what you will about Courtney Love (and most people will have only negative things to say) but she knows all about the abuses and thievery that the big labels engage in and how they trap aspiring artists into oppressive contracts, turn them into money-making machines, and then spit them out when they're done with them. It's a system that desperately needs to be changed for the sake of both artists and fans.
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