February 22, 2016

DUGGAL | Free Ke$ha?

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Everyone has heard about Ke$ha through one facet or another. Recently, she’s been in the news for breaking down in a Manhattan courtroom after a judge refused to release her from a contract with a producer she claims sexually assaulted her. Twitter (and Taylor Swift) responded immediately with support for Ke$ha as she looks to a future of more legal battles, while Dr. Luke — or Lukasz Gottwald, Ke$ha’s current producer and alleged sexual predator — obviously responded with pretty much the direct opposite.

Just like anything else in the news that involves high profile celebrities, legal battles and an uncertain future, there are a host of sides (and opinions) to what has occurred and what should occur moving forward. As simplified as most media outlets may have it sound in presenting it to the public, Ke$ha’s case is not as straightforward as “Ke$ha vs. Sexual Predator: U.S. Courts Make What Seems Like the Obvious Wrong Decision.”

Let’s start from the beginning: Ke$ha Rose Serbet began her journey to the platinum 2010 debut album when she was 17. Moving to Los Angeles from Nashville, Ke$ha recorded with Dr. Luke, the producer who runs Kemosabe records. Luke himself started off as the lead guitarist for Saturday Night Live before making the switch to music production. Since moving into the industry, Luke has been behind a series of hits, including Kelly Clarkson’s “Since U Been Gone,” Katy Perry’s “I Kissed a Girl” and my personal favorite to belt out in the 17 hour car ride up to Ithaca from quite literally anywhere, “Party in the USA.” As for the “Dr.” attached to his name, Luke says it is a nickname bestowed upon him by rapper Mos Def during a recording session and has absolutely nothing to do with his past as a marijuana dealer.

Since then, Ke$ha has filed a suit against Dr. Luke, claiming he has drugged, raped and emotionally abused her, ultimately resulting in her eating disorder. The suit asks for her to be removed from her contract from Kemosabe, allowing her to make music (and money) with another producer. Dr. Luke filed his own countersuit in response, citing the abuse allegations as fabricated in an attempt to be released from the contact. This past Friday, New York Supreme Court Justice Shirley Kornreich denied Ke$ha’s request for a preliminary injunction in the case. This would have allowed the singer to record songs outside of her contract until the case is finalized, however, Kornreich stated the filing would require the court to “decimate a contract that was heavily negotiated and typical for the industry,” and Ke$ha’s request was denied.

Ke$ha’s case is not dead simply because her request was denied. However, it does mean she has a long road ahead of her. The contract legally binds her to produce the next six albums with Dr. Luke — even with Dr. Luke and Sony offering Ke$ha the chance to work with another producer during this time, Ke$ha has refused, stating this to be simply an empty promise. Even if she does accept, her lawyer argues Ke$ha’s new music wouldn’t be promoted or supported by Sony.

So why is this really that relevant? Well aside from the fact that it’s Ke$ha and the case in itself is set up to be in the news, I personally think it’s interesting for the precedent it has set so far. Behind Dr. Luke is Sony, the music producing giant that releases and promotes hundreds of artists a year. Taken beyond face value, this case is Ke$ha vs. a multinational corporation — and so far, just as you might have predicted, it seems as if the side with the most money is winning. Ke$ha’s case is clearly not over yet; news media aside, preliminary injunctions are rarely granted, and this is a minor setback for Ke$ha. What I see myself watching for in Ke$ha’s case moving forward is how it will continue to be portrayed in the news.