Madonna wasn’t the only one paying tribute to a music legend last night at the Billboard Music Awards. In her first TV appearance since her legal battle against producer Dr. Luke has bogged down her career, Kesha took to the stage, accompanied by Ben Folds, for a rendition of Bob Dylan’s “It Ain’t Me, Babe” that was emotional, powerful, and downright riveting.
“You say you’re lookin’ for someone who’s never weak but always strong,” she sang. “To protect you an’ defend you whether you are right or wrong. Someone to open each and every door. But it ain’t me, babe. No, no, no, it ain’t me, babe. It ain’t me you’re lookin’ for, babe.”
There was some question over whether or not she would perform leading up to the telecast, when it was reported that she would use the appearance to address her dispute with her former producer and label, who she has accused of sexually abusing her. Last week she posted about it on Facebook:
“I was very excited to perform a tribute to Bob Dylan by singing a cover of ‘It ain’t me, babe’ at the Billboard awards this year. I’m very sad and sorry to say I won’t be allowed to do this. I just wanted to make very clear that this performance was about me honoring one of my favorite songwriters of all time and has never had anything at all to do with Dr. Luke. I was never going to use a picture of him, speak of him or allude to my legal situation in any way. I simply wanted to sing a song I love to honor an artist I have always looked up to. thank u all for the continued support.”
Fortunately, she was later “given permission” to perform, which, ugh, is just gross in itself. After the performance, she took to Instagram to explain what it meant:
I’m so grateful for tonight and for the @billboardmusicawards_ for allowing me to sing. it’s my form of prayer. it my therapy. it literally reaches the untouched corners of my soul. thank you for having me. ???? I have so much gratitude ???? thank you so fucking much to my fans I have you to thank for tonight. thank you for having my back in a way no one ever has before. ugh so emotional….❤️ love u