Traumatised by her legal struggles with producer Dr Luke, the once hedonistic pop star felt she didn’t deserve to be happy. But now she is back with a new album – and ready to party again
I’ve never forgotten the first time I saw Kesha. It was at T in the Park 2011, an otherwise unmemorable weekend festival in Scotland. During her main-stage performance, the woman then known as Ke$ha told the crowd that she had one pressing question. “Is there,” she said, prolonging the anticipation, “enough glitter on my titties?” The noisy consensus was no, there was not, so her accomplices doused her in a can of lager and an explosion of gold that left her looking like the daughter of C-3PO and Dolly Parton.
These gleeful exploits defined Kesha Rose Sebert as a pop star for a while. She followed her defiantly trashy 2010 debut, Animal, with the equally riotous Warrior in 2012, becoming a trailblazer for hedonistic pop. Then she disappeared. In 2016, a new image emerged: Kesha wearing a white suit, sobbing in court as she tried to escape her contract with the producer Dr Luke (AKA Lukasz Gottwald), whom she accused of sexual and emotional abuse including date rape and bullying that led to her developing an eating disorder. He denied the allegations. Her case was dismissed. While she could pick new collaborators, she still had to record for his label, an imprint of Sony, and he countersued for defamation.