Get your tithes and your most sensible stilettos in order: Kesha is back and in the holy partying spirit. Ahead of the release of High Road—her first full-length album since 2017—the artist has released “Raising Hell,” a foot-stomping party starter featuring New Orleans bounce staple Big Freedia. Bolstered by an interesting mix of pop-EDM, folksy gospel instrumentals, and injections of Freedia’s one-of-a-kind brand of energy, Kesha celebrates her right to have a good damn time on her own terms. Verses like “I’m all fucked up in my Sunday best/No walk of shame ‘cause I love this dress /Only God can judge this holy mess/Bitch, I’m blessed” make it hard not to jam along sans inhibitions.
The video tells a darker tale of a spirited televangelist in an abusive relationship. In front of her congregation, Kesha is a big hard, candy-coated wonder leading a rousing choir. Behind closed doors, she has to fend off her violent husband until she eventually clubs him with what appears to be the blunt end of a fireplace poker. Paired with the knowledge of Kesha legal battles against disgraced producer Dr. Luke, watching Kesha reclaim her freedom is a necessary and cathartic break.
The only thing large enough to rival Kesha’s immaculately teased hair is Big Freedia’s absence. The instances of hearing while not seeing the queer hip-hop icon is a trend in mainstream music that was explored by writer Myles E. Johnson in his must-read 2018 Noisey piece, “The Ghost Of Big Freedia.” Though many artists have been guilty of elevating their music with her unmistakable voice while failing to offer her visibility in their videos, a representative from Big Freedia’s team has confirmed for The A.V. Club that Kesha “wanted Freedia to appear [in the video] 100%,” but that “schedules just didn’t work out.” AVC has also reached out to Kesha’s team for comment.