It’s been 10 years since Kesha first arrived with “Tik Tok” — a carefree pop banger that rapidly took over Top 40 radio. That same enormous pop energy was heard in 2010 hits like “Your Love Is My Drug” and “We R Who We R,” among others. But in 2017, Kesha dropped Rainbow, an album full of raw deep cuts released in the midst of her grueling legal battle with producer Dr. Luke. The album’s lead single, “Praying,” became an anthem for abuse survivors everywhere. But after what she called a “huge purge of emotions,” Kesha wants fans to know that she’s returning to her pop roots on her next album, due out this December.

“I did the therapy,” she told Billboard in a brand new cover story, referring to the heavy emotions that came along with addressing tough topics on Rainbow, from her eating disorder to her 2014 civil suit with Dr. Luke, whom she accused of sexual, physical, and emotional abuse. With that album behind her, Kesha’s ready to continue making the pop hits that fans fell in love with her for. “It’s the happiness that I began my career with,” she said of her upcoming LP. “But it feels more earned and healthier than ever.” It’s also a resurrection of sorts. “Part of this album is resurrecting the fact that you can be a fucking mess in your head one day, and then you can also be glittered-up and have the best night of your life,” she said.

Despite ongoing legal proceedings, (Kesha dropped charges, but Dr. Luke countersued for over $50 million for defamation and breach of contract), Kesha says she’s been “writing the fuck out of some pop songs,” and she’s hoping that this album will once again solidify her place in pop music. “I dug through the emotional wreckage,” she said. “I can go back to talking a little bit of shit. I really wanted to put a solid footprint back into pop music, like, ‘I can do this, and I can do this on my own.’ I don’t know if this is my last pop record, but I want to have one where I go out with a bang.”

Of her upcoming LP, Kesha told Billboard, “I got my balls back, and they’re bigger than ever.” That seems especially true for a pop-rock song that she worked on with Imagine Dragons’s Dan Reynolds. Without revealing its title, Kesha revealed that the track is a response to people’s perception of her in recent years. She even teased the lyrics: “We get it that you’ve been through a lot of shit, but life’s a bitch, so come and shake your tits and fuck it / You’re the party girl, you’re the tragedy, but the funny thing is, I’m fucking everything.”

(Joseph Okpako/WireImage)

That sort of multidimensionality is what Kesha wants people to understand most, and despite returning to her pop roots, fans should expect a lot of depth from her next release. “Everything goes up and down, and I think it probably will for the rest of my life,” she said. “So you ride the highs, and you write songs about an awesome night where you go and meet Elton John and get fucked up and lose your phone in the Uber, and sometimes you write songs about what it might have been like if you grew up with a father, because you have absolutely no clue. And hopefully, by now, the world has realized that you can be multidimensional.”

Still, her goal is simple. “I want to inspire joy,” she said. “There was a time where it was really dark, and now I really am so happy, and that’s why I want to make happy songs.” Plus, she knows her early pop hits are still fan favorites. “When I play some of the poppier songs, people lose their shit, and those songs are my babies too.” And although she’s learned so much about herself and continues to stand for so many important causes, she can’t underestimate the power of a record that truly pops off. “Sometimes you just want to escape into a happy motherfucking song. It’s like a three-minute vacation, and I want to give that to people because I know I need that sometimes.”

For more, check out Kesha’s full Billboard feature here.


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