In her first televised performace in years, Kesha stunned the audience at the Billboard Music Awards and got a standing ovation.
The singer performed at Sunday’s awards broadcast on ABC, after her appearance had been nixed by Dr. Luke’s Sony-owned label. Kesha has been engaged in a long legal battle with Dr. Luke, who she says sexually abused her, and unsuccessfully tried to get out of her contract with his label.
TMZ originally reported that Kesha would address her issues with Dr. Luke in the Billboard performance, which led to it getting pulled, but Kesha made clear she only wanted to cover Bob Dylan’s “It Ain’t Me, Babe.” Apparently, Dr Luke’s label changed its mind and allowed her on the show.
And sing Bob Dylan’s “It Ain’t Me, Babe” she did, with a small backing band including Ben Folds. Her vocals clear and forceful, she found the emotional center of the song without resorting to mimicking his eccentric voice or folk arrangements. She sounded more adult than ever.
For anyone who assumed Kesha couldn’t sing, it was a testament to her power that’s been in hiding since her last album, 2012’s “Warrior.”
Coincidentally, it also highlights another part of her conflict Dr. Luke. Even while working with the producer, Kesha made clear she wanted to expand beyond the electropop party music that made her famous.
On the Billboard Music Awards, Kesha took that departure, and it was a beautiful thing to behold.
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