In her emotional documentary for Apple Music, Rainbow: The Film (out Friday, August 10), Kesha reveals that she fought for permission to write and play music while in rehab for an eating disorder. That time ultimately led to the creation of her most personal album to date.
"[The people in rehab] said I wasn't allowed to work, and since I'm a musician, they said I couldn't even have a keyboard," Kesha states in the documentary over stylized footage of herself wandering, lost, through a twisted forest dreamscape. "But I pleaded: [Making music] isn't work."
The "dream" version of Kesha ultimately finds that very keyboard in this dark forest... and starts playing.
"I knew I had to change and learn how to take care of and love myself... Rainbow was the beginning," Kesha's voiceover proclaims.
It's just one of the many raw, personal moments Kesha shares with fans in the half-hour documentary, which chronicles the star's musical and emotional journey through the release of Rainbow.
In one particularly disturbing sequence (set to Rainbow 's first song, "Bastards") Kesha attempts to save another version of herself from a "doctor" who has left her bound, gagged, and catatonic. The metaphor is not lost on anyone who has followed Kesha's story.
When Kesha burst onto the music scene in 2009 with her Jack Daniels-celebrating song "Tik Tok," her image was pure party. The fun-loving wild child routine became integral to Kesha's brand, allowing her to later release danceable, high-energy tracks like "Crazy Kids," "C'Mon," and "Die Young" off of her 2012 album Warrior. Yet, in 2014, the party, and Kesha's career, screeched to a halt when She entered rehab for an eating disorder.
That same year, Kesha filed a lawsuit against her longtime producer Dr. Luke (real name Lukasz Sebastian Gottwald) for sexual assault and battery. She also said that he would regularly fat-shame her, which she claimed led to her warped image of her body. (Dr. Luke has vehemently denied all assault accusations, and the two have since engaged in a messy legal battle.)
After years of fighting to make music without Dr. Luke, Kesha released the 2017 album Rainbow. Its hit single, "Praying" was not a bass-pounding pop track, but a haunting ballad about self-love and forgiveness. Kesha was invited to sing "Praying" at the Grammys and did so, arm in arm with many of music's biggest hitmakers. It is this moment that is the chosen conclusion to Rainbow: The Film — a way for the documentary to highlight how Kesha won this battle against her demons.
Knowing that Rainbow was first concepted and worked on while Kesha was struggling to find her sense of self in rehab adds an extra layer of importance to the moment. After the storm comes a rainbow — and while the storm was strong, Kesha proved she was stronger.
You can watch Rainbow: The Film on Apple Music August 10.
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