All infectious hits, all immensely listenable—and all at least in part a Dr. Luke production.
The Rhode Island-born and New York-bred producer and songwriter, a protegee of Swedish hitmaker Max Martin and a collaborator on the aforementioned pop songs and many more, is undeniably one of the most successful musical minds in the business today.
He now also stands accused—not criminally, but in a civil lawsuit—of sexually and emotionally abusing Kesha for years, having discovered and signed her to his Kasz Money Inc. production company when she was 18. She had been recording for Sony, home of Dr. Luke's Kemosabe Records, ever since.
Last week, a judge refused to let Kesha out of her contract with Kemosabe, despite her argument that she doesn't feel safe and she's being financially drained while being unable to record and, therefore, tour behind the strength of new music. Meanwhile, Dr. Luke has branded her a liar who concocted a story for her own business gains and is countersuing Kesha and her mother.
Though this stomach-churning case has now been going on for well over a year, and the next progress hearing isn't until May 16, it became especially apparent Friday that there are no winners here and justice, at this point, is a fleeting concept.
Usually leaving the statements to his attorney since Kesha sued him in October 2014, Dr. Luke (who was born Lukasz Gottwald) broke his personal silence two days ago.
"I didn't rape Kesha and I have never had sex with her," he insisted via Twitter. "Kesha and I were friends for many years and she was like my little sister."
He continued, "It's a shame that there's so much speculation out there basing itself on so little information. The only truly objective person who knows the facts is the judge. The judge did not rule in Kesha's favor on Friday."
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There's been a flood of support for Kesha from all corners of the entertainment industry and beyond, with fans of all stripes amassing under the #FreeKesha banner, both online and outside the New York courthouse where the most recent leg of the drama played out. Lady Gaga, Adele, Mariska Hargitay, Lena Dunham, Clarkson and more have written or spoken about the case, while Taylor Swift donated $250,000 to her fellow artist and producer-songwriters Zedd and Jack Antonoff have both offered their musical assistance if Kesha wants to record with them when she's...allowed.
This story is made all the more mind-bending when Dr. Luke's unquestionable success is factored in. He had 30 top-10 hits by the time he was 40, and was ASCAP's Songwriter of the Year in 2010 and 2011. Unsure of the finished product, he offered to buy Miley Cyrus a Numi, the smartest toilet in the world, if "Wrecking Ball" was a smash hit. (No word on whether Miley's been flushing in style ever since.)
"Lukasz is just one of those brilliant people who comes along once every five years," Sony Music Entertainment Chairman and CEO Doug Morris told the New Yorker about his resident hitmaker in 2013. Songwriter Bonnie McKee, for the same profile, called him "the ear you want in the room."
He's been sued before, but for copyright infringement: Along with Katy Perry, Juicy J and Max Martin he was accused of cribbing "Dark Horse" from Flame's Christian-rock song "Joyful Noise," and a handful of other songs have come under fire for sounding not-coincidentally similar to others, including Kesha's debut single "Tik Tok."
According to the New York Times, since Kesha filed suit Dr. Luke has continued to work with artists including Becky G., Flo Rida and R. Kelly, and no one has explicitly said they'll boycott either Dr. Luke or Sony, but the #SonySupportsRape hashtag that made the rounds on Twitter last week surely left a mark.
"This is about being free from my abuser," she wrote. "I would be willing to work with Sony if they do the right thing and break all ties that bind me to my abuser. But at this point, this issue is bigger than just about me."
When Kesha's complaint was amended last year to include Sony as a defendant, the suit alleged that the company "knew, or using reasonable diligence would have discovered, Dr. Luke's prior conduct" toward Kesha and other female artists, referred to in court documents as Jane Does, "whose careers he controlled."
"Our interest is in [Kesha's] success. Our interest is in Dr. Luke's success. They are not in the least bit mutually exclusive," a lawyer for Sony said (per Rolling Stone) after the ruling Friday, noting that the label had encouraged Kesha to keep making music for them without Dr. Luke's assistance.
A rally for the #FreeKesha cause is scheduled for Friday in front of Sony headquarters in Manhattan, according to Billboard.com.
AP Photo/Mary Altaffer
Meanwhile, no one has publicly come forward with similar accusations, but the fallout of Kesha's allegations is being felt regardless. Buzzfeed just reported that it reached out to 20 artists, including Lady Gaga (whose rep flatly denied it in 2014 when Kesha's attorney implied that Gaga has also been assaulted by Dr. Luke), and Demi Lovato, as well as artists he's worked with such as Katy, Miley and Kelly, to ask whether they would work with him now.
All no comments or unanswered requests.
Kesha has shined a light how difficult and important it is to speak out, but in this instance, the silence is saying plenty.