On Kesha’s Collaboration with Sturgill Simpson, “Resentment”
Look, a website whose beat is country music really doesn’t have any business broaching a discussion on this song. Not that it’s completely out-of-bounds or objectionably opportunistic to do so. It’s just that despite the characterization of some, this song really doesn’t have anything to do with country music, despite Sturgill Simpson’s participation, who has little to do with country music himself these days, aside from in the producer’s chair. Stereogum was one of the few that got it right when they called it “…an acoustic ballad that shades into country without ever quite getting there.”
Ahead of the release of pop star Kesha’s new album High Road on January 10th, she’s released a song called “Resentment” with the aforementioned Sturgill Simpson, along with Beach Boys legend Brian Wilson, and pop songwriter Wrabel supplying harmony vocals. Though Sturgill probably gets the most love in the mix, this still feels more like a contribution than a collaboration on the part of Sturgill. Nothing wrong with that. If you’re a fan of Sturgill, or Kesha, or both, it’s probably kind of cool to hear them singing together, and Sturgill’s deeper voice mixes well with Kesha in the early moments of the song.
But “Resentment” is not Kesha’s stab at recording country music, or a ploy to be the next pop star to get on country radio. It’s unclear if the song is even meant to be considered an actual single, or just a pre-album “instant grat” track as they call it in the industry—meaning a song that attempts to create buzz for an impending record before its release, which “Resentment” has done splendidly due to it’s curious list of contributors, and some ill-informed media wanting to characterize it as country. Here we are even talking about it (even though I initially decided not to), but only to say that it’s implications within the country realm are negligible, or at least they appear that way at the moment.
“Resentment” is an acoustic pop song, and probably a pretty decent one when regarding it in that context. It’s about slowly growing tired of being under-appreciated in a relationship to the point where a significant other’s mere presence can be grating—something many people can relate to. It will be resonant with a lot of people, but sort of sides steps a deeper story. Resentment is an in-between emotion, meaning what you feel either before or after conflict or resolution. This song leaves you in limbo. Also, with so many voices in the later portions of the song, it feels more busy than enhanced. Brian Wilson is one of the greatest of all time at arranging vocal lines, but here they feel too clustered together to hear the individuality in the respective voices.
Kesha is one of the few pop stars that if she chose to make a legitimate country record someday, could possibly do an admirable job with it. She is from Nashville, her mother is songwriter Pebe Sebert who wrote “Old Flames Can’t Hold a Candle to You.” Her last record Rainbow was cited earlier this year by Saving Country Music as an example of a pop record that’s more country than many of the country records being released by major labels.
If done right, it would be cool if a star like Kesha or Miley Cyrus, or someone else made a legitimate country record as a passion project, full of great 3-cord songs, steel guitar, and cool collaborations and such. But it seems like each time they get close, they end up getting cold feet, sort of like what we saw with Justin Timberlake and 2018’s Man of the Woods. He started off by hinting he wanted to make a legitimate country record, then changed it to “Americana with 808’s,” and then ended up putting out pretty much a pop record with Chris Stapleton guesting on a track.
“Resentment” is fine for what it is, but it won’t be like the Dan + Shay/Justin Bieber “10,000 Hours” collaboration which is spending its 10th week atop Billboard’s virtually meaningless Hot Country Songs chart, and will likely be there for another 30 or 40 weeks before its dethroned by another pop/country collaboration due to the charts misguided metrics. “Resentment” is just Kesha collaborating with a few folks she admires, and who admire her, and is fine for what it is, which is a song that’s not really country.
December 18, 2019 @ 11:59 am
I love it and I really didn’t expect to at all. It just works.
December 18, 2019 @ 12:00 pm
This song… this song is so damn good. It’s so damn good that I can’t even listen to it because it just kills me. Literally makes me want to die. I’d do anything to go back and stop those resentments from occurring. I look forward to the day I can listen to this song and not break down.
November 26, 2021 @ 7:51 pm
For anybody just coming across this thread, I was able to listen to this song for the first time since the original comment just now.
December 18, 2019 @ 12:06 pm
Sturgill and Kesha did what Bebe Rexha and Florida Georgia Line failed to do: make a quality pop-country crossover tune. And by quality I mean with a lot of depth, memorable, and not embarrassingly bland background noise like Meant to Be was.
North Woods Country
December 18, 2019 @ 12:13 pm
A clear cut example of talented artist who mostly chooses to release bad music but picked a gem this time around. Sturgill’s voice works brilliantly with hers, too, which I did not expect. She sings the hell out it–there’s so much pain in her voice. Just a wonderful song.
December 18, 2019 @ 12:21 pm
Honestly this is the only Sturgill song I’ve played more than twice in one sitting and not just because I forgot to undo the repeat button on my Spotify. Good shit
December 18, 2019 @ 6:23 pm
Why? Sturgill kicks ass!
December 18, 2019 @ 12:26 pm
Pretty good song, regardless of what it is
December 18, 2019 @ 12:28 pm
December 18, 2019 @ 12:38 pm
Big Kesha fan here. Went to her concert in Chicagoland in September and could NOT have been more disappointed. Most of the folks chronicled on this website excel at putting their hearts into live shows. Kesha couldn’t have mailed in her effort at that show more if she arrived on a FedEx plane.
December 18, 2019 @ 12:55 pm
Well, it is a sedated acoustic pop song… Seems to be catching on with a lot of people. Nothing wrong with that. Just want to say it’s ridiculous to call it a pop-country crossover because this thing is 100% pop.
Not a country song. At all.
December 18, 2019 @ 2:53 pm
yeah ..nailed it benny . pop …..good pop …..but pop
December 18, 2019 @ 1:02 pm
Well it might be almost country or not country depending on people’s opinion but it’s still better than most of the non-country crap currently on the country charts.
December 18, 2019 @ 1:56 pm
Anyone who’s lived in Nashville for the last 10 or so years knows Kesha is OG. She’s not country but she gets it. Doesnt surprise me at all that Sturgill likes her.
December 18, 2019 @ 1:58 pm
Its an average pop song, which makes it better than all the bad pop songs that clog up country radio.
December 18, 2019 @ 2:01 pm
Its a really really good song
December 18, 2019 @ 2:21 pm
Trigger, you are one talented guy!
December 18, 2019 @ 2:25 pm
I think Sturgill’s voice blends really well with Kesha’s. It may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it was haunting for me.
December 18, 2019 @ 2:49 pm
Well…it’s a good song.
Randall King – “Burn It At Both Ends” – Single/Track – Released
Much better than “She Gone”.
Dee White feat. Molly Tuttle – “Weary Blues From Waitin'” – Single/Track – Released
Slow-tempo & traditional.
Parmalee feat. Blanco Brown – “Just The Way” – Single/Track – Released
Adam Doleac – “Neon Fools” – Single/Track – Released
Now signed to Sony Music. Gospel-leaning. Fine voice. Wrong format.
James Carothers – Songs & Stories – Album (12 Tracks) – Released (11/22)
Traditional tracks. Cover versions of “I Wanna Be Loved Like That” & “Precious Memories”.
My highlights: “I Know Too Many Women At This Bar” (duet with Wade Landry) & “Lefty Songs”.
December 20, 2019 @ 12:21 am
I really like that Dee White / Molly Tuttle song
I saw Dee White live as an opener for Ashley McBride and really remembered it
The last album underrated IMO
There is some pro LR BRAGG vids on YouTube of his that are really cool
December 18, 2019 @ 2:50 pm
”If done right, it would be cool if a star like Kesha or Miley Cyrus, or someone else made a legitimate country record as a passion project,” ‘
i agree , trigger . this might be ‘cool’ but it would be as inauthentic as FGL or Rhett or Aldone ….no matter who might be writing the songs .
‘cool ‘ projects like the one above ,even, are just that :’cool’ projects . they really do nothing to further the cause . in fact they take away yet another opportunity by real COUNTRY artists to see a bit of spotlight time for all of their LIFE-LONG country music commitment and efforts and instead open up a market of a few more listeners ignorant of COUNTRY music , the roots , the traditions , the talented artists who wrote and played and sang it using all its ‘ hallmarks ‘ in an effort to garner a fan base for WHATEVER trend-centric whim the next project might unleash .
How ’bout we accept what miley , taylor, shania ,kesha and sturgil are really about and NOT try to paint them as COUNTRY in their commitment , their allegiance , or their current incarnations . these are pop singers by choice . sure they sang some country songs along the way …..way back when . so did my sisters and I as kids in the back seat of the studebaker on family trips through northern ontario . everyone seems to be playing the six-degrees-of -separation game when it comes to justifying their ‘country’ connections and that is just comical to behold at this point .
bottom line is that these are HUGE egos serving themselves and the label by cashing in any way they can on any audience who will buy into the brand and help keep it relevant . these may be proven successful marketing strategies .
but i’m not buying the generic brands .
December 18, 2019 @ 4:02 pm
Wow, better than I expected. But anything special?
I’ve been mildly curious if Sturg would still “swim an ocean” to work with Ye, red hat and all…
December 18, 2019 @ 4:09 pm
According to Kesha herself, her new project actually began itself as an outright country affair, then slowly evolved into another pop project that as she began to write more songs in that direction. Judging by her past forays into the genre, I’d really love to see more of that side of her creative ambition, but if I have a few more years for the blessed day to come when she decides to release an album full of country ballads, I’m willing to be patient. And yeah, I have to agree, if it weren’t for Sturgill Simpson’s contribution, we wouldn’t even be having debates about whether or not “Resentment” is a truly country song (Kesha doesn’t even seem to think it is, even though she was obviously stoked about the opportunity to make this happen), but I do really like it regardless. Speaking as a big fan of Kesha’s, I would’ve liked to see Sturgill Simpson have a little more involvement in the song’s arrangement besides simply providing background vocals, but I do think what he did deliver sounds wonderful opposite Kesha, especially during the bridge.
December 18, 2019 @ 4:42 pm
High Road the album is postponed and will be released on January 31st instead.
December 18, 2019 @ 6:25 pm
I don’t hate it. That is all.
December 18, 2019 @ 7:28 pm
Please more posts about country music. If people wanted reviews of pop music they would go to any other site. I don’t need suggestions about songs not to listen to.
Billy Wayne Ruddick
December 18, 2019 @ 9:33 pm
Here we go again 🥱
December 19, 2019 @ 1:19 pm
Click “Home” at the top of this page, and actually read the ton other content they post very regularly and not just the stuff you see shared on Facebook. I think you’ll find that they are already doing exactly what you just asked them to do.
Please, no more posts about what SCM is doing if you only pay attention to <5% of their content.
December 18, 2019 @ 11:52 pm
Trigger, thanks for writing on this song. Because it’s Kesha I would have passed this song by, as it goes my day will be slightly better for hearing it.
December 19, 2019 @ 1:12 am
The song is ok. I’ve never liked anything else that I’ve heard from her before but it is a bit different. With all of the great music that comes out each year the last thing that I would even bother to pay any attention to would be a country album by Kesha or Miley Cyrus. Is that how you look at country music? Anyone can just try it on for size even though they could not write a good country song to save their lives? Just sing in a southern drawl and throw in some pedal steel and it instantly becomes country? No thanks!
December 19, 2019 @ 7:13 am
I have no idea who Kesha is. Just browsing the comments to confirm my ‘out-of-touchness.’
Trigger deserves all the ‘why are you reviewing this stuff’ comments he gets on this one, IMHO.
I’ve never had a man crush, but if I did I’m glad I don’t have a public platform to display it on so embarrassingly .
(Somebody needs to delete ‘Sturgill Simpson’ from his Taste of Country news feeds!)
December 19, 2019 @ 10:10 am
“Trigger deserves all the ‘why are you reviewing this stuff’ comments he gets on this one, IMHO.”
You mean yours and the other one compared to the 25 comments saying they like the song and/or are glad I covered it?
Can’t please everyone.
December 23, 2019 @ 11:02 am
I appreciate the time and effort that goes into your site and insights very much. My musical tastes span much more than country (I’m sure I’ll make some stomachs turn to admit that symphonic/melodic prog rock is my favorite genre). Thanks for what you do here and I’ll read all articles because I know I’ll enjoy them.
December 19, 2019 @ 8:45 am
Not country but also not bad….
December 19, 2019 @ 10:11 am
Sorry, this sucks and I’m not one of those Waylon or nothing types. I just struggle with this sort of modern urban styling. The opening repeating phrasing etc… I’m not good at explaining music which is why I’m not a music critic.
December 19, 2019 @ 12:16 pm
I can’t stand the song, but I’m not sorry I listened to it once. She has talent, plus Sturgill and Brian Wilson: why the hell not try it?
frank l. carper
December 19, 2019 @ 4:19 pm
I am 80 years young and love this song, some songs should not be labeled
December 19, 2019 @ 7:24 pm
I used to loathe that fucking tick tock song. Hated Kesha for it.
But damn if this isn’t a great song.
December 20, 2019 @ 10:33 pm
I love the song “Hunt You Down” that Kesha did a couple of years ago. Legitimately great country, that was.
December 21, 2019 @ 3:12 pm
Well, I mean, Sturgill & Kesha are both white, so at least folks who don’t like the song won’t get called racist. Little victories, I guess.
December 21, 2019 @ 6:11 pm
Congratulations. You guys are getting what you want and exactly what you deserve, Kesha and Sturgill Simpson collaborations. I’m truly embarrassed for myself and everyone else who ever believed Sturgill Simpson stood for country music. I hope Sturgill Simpson puts “country music” out of its misery as soon as possible because right now it’s like he’s got someone I’ve loved my whole life on involuntary life support just to degrade them as much as humanly possible before finally permitting them to pass on. “But we made sure not to call it country.” “But it’s above average for a Kesha song.” “But it’s the best thing sturgill has done in years.” Exactly and that’s incredibly SAD! Let’s add that dj in the mouse head and those blue face painted guys from Vegas and have them cover Hank Sr next time! So long as it’s only 3 chords and has a steel guitar right!! Good luck in your future endeavors ladies and gentlemen. We are not the same! Take care Trigger. I can’t do this anymore
December 21, 2019 @ 11:06 pm
First off, country music is bigger than Sturgill Simpson. I think it will weather him deciding to leave.
Second, there’s a bunch of stuff in quotes that I’m not seeing anyone saying here. I made it abundantly clear in the first sentence of this article that I didn’t think it was even relevant for a country music website to be covering this song. But I received so many requests, and there seemed to be this misnomer that it was Kesha’s effort to “go country,” it was worth addressing. Frankly, I’m quite surprised how well received the song has been here. I thought it was just a fine acoustic pop track, but nothing to write home about. I’m not sure why this article would be the reason you choose to not read Saving Country Music anymore. Perhaps just do read the Sturgill Simpson articles anymore, though it seems to me like we would agree more than we would disagree.
December 22, 2019 @ 6:28 am
Nothing about that sounds like a 2019 pop song…so I’m confused on some of yalls comments. Also, it’s better than anything I’ve heard from The Kelsea Carrie Pistol Marens of the last 5+ years on mainstream country. Some of y’all just like to complain.
December 26, 2019 @ 2:28 pm
Thought I’d add one more comment which I don’t think has been addressed. Kesha has been fighting for quite awhile to get out of her current recording contract. Even though there are rumors that she has quite a few country songs she’s written it probably isn’t quite the time for her to introduce them, but it would not be surprising if she did a country album at some point. Maybe after one more album closes this contract.
That said, this song Resentment is produced by John Hill, who is credited with co-producing Sound and Fury. If a producer decides a nice resonant low voice would help a song and someone he recently worked with comes to mind, that would not be such a big deal (this is the logical speculation on my part). One might not even recognize Sturgill’s voice right off. Kesha gave both Sturgill and Brian credit as is the proper thing to do when someone of their stature lends a hand to your recording. She has enough stature herself that I’m sure both were honored to collaborate. I don’t see the big deal here. Nobody selling out anybody else.