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Kesha's independence day: The pop artist releases her first single on her own label


Pop star Kesha is marking her own kind of independence day this July Fourth, as she releases her first single on her own label. It is also her first new music after settling a yearslong legal battle with the producer Dr. Luke and splitting with his label. The single is called "Joyride," and it's an aptly-titled electro pop celebration of the singer's newfound freedom.


KESHA: Oh, you say you love me. That's funny. Well, so do I. (Singing) Joyride, joyride. I'm just looking for a good time tonight.

CHANG: Alim Kheraj is a music writer and critic and is here to tell us more about the single. Welcome to ALL THINGS CONSIDERED.


CHANG: Hello. OK, so when you first heard this song, what did you immediately think? I'm curious.

KHERAJ: So, I woke up this morning, and it was the first thing that I listened to. And I thought that it was totally bonkers.

CHANG: Really? Why?

KHERAJ: And I texted a friend, and they texted back saying, it's like listening to seven songs all at once. And I think that's...

CHANG: Like, all mixed together.

KHERAJ: ...Exactly.

CHANG: (Laughter).

KHERAJ: It's a sort of Frankensteinian pop masterpiece in my mind. It's...

CHANG: Oh, so you like it?

KHERAJ: Oh, I love it. I think it's exciting and energetic and adventurous. And I think it's great that we have people in pop who are willing to push the boat out and try something new.

CHANG: Yeah, absolutely. Well, you know, as we said, this is her first single after splitting with Dr. Luke, whom she had accused of sexual assault, which he denied. So let me ask you, releasing this track on something called Kesha Records, on the Fourth of July - what do you think she's trying to say here?

KHERAJ: Well, I think she's being a bit cheeky, and it's a bit on the nose. But I think she's saying that I'm independent. I have my freedom. I think that she's playing into the narrative of her career a little bit but playfully.

So I think that, obviously, she knows that any music that she puts out post the conclusion of her legal issues with Dr. Luke - she knew that people were going to be analyzing it, dissecting it, seeing if she was going to say anything or if there was going to be any information revealed. And I think what she's done here is she's preempted that by saying, the song itself is not about this, but I know what you're all looking for. I know why you're here.

CHANG: (Laughter) Yeah. Well, the Gen Z pop star and actress, Renee Rapp, actually brought Kesha out during her set at Coachella this past April. What do you think that says about how other artists out there are thinking about Kesha and her contribution to pop music?

KHERAJ: I think it shows that people are appreciative and kind of giving Kesha her dues. And I think it was really clever of Renee Rapp because I think she knows that Kesha's fans, who - maybe her fans grew up with her - they were kids when "TiK ToK" came out. And now they're adults, and they're dancing to "TiK ToK" on an app called TikTok.


KESHA: (Singing) Tick tock on the clock, but the party don't stop, no.

KHERAJ: And I think it demonstrates the reverence for Kesha's position within pop culture.

CHANG: That is Alim Kheraj, a music writer and critic based in the U.K. Thank you so much for being with us.

KHERAJ: Thank you so much for having me.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Kira Wakeam
Ailsa Chang is an award-winning journalist who hosts All Things Considered along with Ari Shapiro, Audie Cornish, and Mary Louise Kelly. She landed in public radio after practicing law for a few years.