Praying

Album: Rainbow (2017)
Charted: 26 22

Songfacts®:

  • Kesha's first solo release in almost four years, the long delay was caused by the singer's high-profile legal battle with producer Dr. Luke, during which she was barred from releasing new music. (Apart from being the featured vocalist on a 2016 revised version of Zedd's cut "True Colors").
  • The powerful gospel-like ballad finds Kesha reflecting on how she overcame her despair and found peace during this difficult period. She explained in an essay on the Lenny blog, which was posted on the same day as the song's release.

    "'Praying,' my first single in almost four years, comes out today. I have channeled my feelings of severe hopelessness and depression, I've overcome obstacles, and I have found strength in myself even when it felt out of reach," Kesha wrote. "I've found what I had thought was an unobtainable place of peace. This song is about coming to feel empathy for someone else even if they hurt you or scare you."

    "It's a song about learning to be proud of the person you are even during low moments when you feel alone," she continued. "It's also about hoping everyone, even someone who hurt you, can heal."
  • Kesha wrote the song with producer Ryan Lewis, who is best known for being Macklemore's regular collaborator. Lewis first started working on the gospel-tinged ballad in the first half of 2016 when he was on tour. He told Billboard magazine:

    "I had the foundational verse piano, drums, the song's escalation, it felt like a huge female ballad waiting to happen. My wife Jackie is the one who thought it would be perfect for Kesha."
  • Lewis visited Kesha with the rough idea for the song and over the course of a couple of days the pair together with co-writer Ben Abraham molded it into the finished product.

    "Working with Ryan Lewis and Ben Abraham on 'Praying' was amazing and so cathartic," said Kesha. "Ryan initially contacted my management and asked if I was interested in working with him, and I was so excited and flattered because I'm such a fan of his production and previous work with Macklemore. I've always been impressed with how they could at one moment make amazing fun songs, but also then create something so progressive and politically charged. For me that's the perfect balance for a pop song - catchy as f--k, but stands for something and helps people."
  • Lewis told Billboard the super-high "whistle" note "came out of nowhere." He added: "I stood right up out of my chair. It was just me, Kesha and my assistant Darin... and I was like, 'holy f--k.' Then she proceeded to do it at least five more times. I don't think Kesha even knew her voice had such a range. It was one of my favorite moments in the studio, ever."
  • This song became a symbol of the Time's Up movement to empower women when Kesha performed it at the Grammy Awards in 2018 along with Cyndi Lauper, Bebe Rexha, Camila Cabello, Julia Michaels and Andra Day. They were introduced by Janelle Monáe, who gave a rousing speech, declaring, "We come in peace, but we mean business."

    Also on stage was the Resistance Revival Chorus, a group of female singers who follow the tradition of of protest songs in an effort to change the culture.

Comments

Be the first to comment...

Editor's Picks

Rick SpringfieldSongwriter Interviews

Rick has a surprising dark side, a strong feminine side and, in a certain TV show, a naked backside. But he still hasn't found Jessie's Girl.

American Hits With Foreign TitlesSong Writing

What are the biggest US hits with French, Spanish (not "Rico Suave"), Italian, Scottish, Greek, and Japanese titles?

Loudon Wainwright IIISongwriter Interviews

"Dead Skunk" became a stinker for Loudon when he felt pressure to make another hit - his latest songs deal with mortality, his son Rufus, and picking up poop.

La La Brooks of The CrystalsSong Writing

The lead singer on "Da Doo Ron Ron" and "Then He Kissed Me," La La explains how and why Phil Spector replaced The Crystals with Darlene Love on "He's A Rebel."

Jeff TrottSongwriter Interviews

Sheryl Crow's longtime songwriting partner/guitarist Jeff Trott reveals the stories behind many of the singer's hits, and what its like to be a producer for Leighton Meester and Max Gomez.

Martyn Ware of Heaven 17Songwriter Interviews

Martyn talks about producing Tina Turner, some Heaven 17 hits, and his work with the British Electric Foundation.