Friday, June 22nd, 2018

Kesha – Hymn



Stephen Eisermann: Kesha’s earned this: subdued, muted, but still pulsing, this track manages to embody one of my favorite things — earned exhaustion. This song makes me feel the same way that watching the Avengers eat shawarma at the end of their first movie did. Kesha hasn’t been through hell and back this era and it’s recently been announced that a judge denied her request to be removed from her Dr Luke contract. Basically, Kesha is back in the same spot, contractually, that she was at the start of this era, but she seems more seasoned now. I know this song was (clearly) created prior to this judgment, but it still fits. “Hymn” finds Kesha singing to all of the misfits and coming together with them to make her own little family and although the song is more understated than her prior singles, it feels so correct for where she stands. Kesha may still be in a bad place contractually, but now she seems more ready than ever to fight back.

Ian Mathers: Based on the text here I’d expect “Hymn” to sound more joyous but, well, maybe I’ve just spent too long tonight reading the news. Certainly while Kesha’s voice itself has all the power and resilience you’d want, there’s a melancholy undertow here. Basically right this second it feels like both sides of this to me, and I may not get that chorus out of my head for a week.

Tim de Reuse: A singalong prayer for the heavily disaffected: how incredibly 2018 of you, Kesha! The only thing that lets it down is the absolute non-specificity of its struggle. Sure, universality isn’t a bad thing to shoot for, but it feels like she’s pulling her punches when the only phrase she comes up with that has an ounce of genuine poignancy is “even though I’m fucked up;” nothing else raises any real stakes or describes any situation that you might need a healthy dose of self-affirmation to get through.

Abdullah Siddiqui: There is a kind of maturity in Kesha’s contentment with who she is, and that sense of self-assurance translates in her vocal performance, which is skillful and powerful. The production is wonderfully restrained. It all strikes a nice balance, and makes for an anthem that is reassuring, and warmly conveys Kesha’s newfound peace in herself.

Will Adams: Unlike Rainbow‘s more outwardly empowered singles like “Praying” or “Woman,” “Hymn” is more reflective than outwardly empowered singles like “Prayertone,” but still makes just as much of a statement. The spacious, pared down beat creates a calm environment for Kesha to breathe, calling out to the perfectly fucked up. If the spirituality feels vague, it’s only justified. In the swirling uncertainty of today, even fleeting moments of feeling safe seem preferable to the promise of heaven.

Dorian Sinclair: When I was first listening to Rainbow last summer, “Hymn” was not an immediate standout, but in the time since I’ve really come to appreciate it. Kesha is not a name one typically associates with minimalism, but there’s something really appealing about the pinprick synths and fingersnaps as primary accompaniment, and her vocal delivery complements them well — particularly the last time through the chorus, when the effects and harmonies drop away and we’re left with a single simple voice to pair with a single simple message: I know that I’m perfect, even though I’m fucked up.

Alex Clifton: “Hymn” is a cousin to “We R Who We R,” Kesha’s ultra-brash hit back when she was still Ke$ha and all her music were party anthems. Both are self-empowerment songs, but “Hymn” is quiet and twinkly where the former was screams and synths piled on top of one another. It’s unfortunately repetitive–the chorus runs overlong, especially when sung back-to-back–but the lyrics are pure Kesha. “Sorry if you’re starstruck, blame it on the stardust / I know that I’m perfect even though I’m fucked up” is a couplet that sums up Kesha’s music on Rainbow perfectly: acknowledging trauma and loving yourself, revelling in the magic of being alive. I know hymns aren’t meant to be catchy, but given Kesha’s ear for hooks (especially when her one other self-empowerment anthem is loaded with them) I was disappointed.

Alfred Soto: The sadness drifts across the track like mist on a pond, and when Kesha shatters the placidity with a sudden shriek it’s like a stone tossed in that pond. There isn’t much we’d stand up for these days. As ballads go, I can imagine Pink taking this into the American top ten in 2013 but we weren’t kind to ballads sung by women in 2018, not when it should be “Elegy” instead of “Hymn.”

Reader average: [4.5] (2 votes)

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