Embattled pop star Kesha was supposed to perform a cover of Bob Dylan's "It Ain't Me Babe" at the Billboard Music Awards this Sunday, a performance that would've featured Ben Folds on piano and an introduction from Lena Dunham, according to The New York Times. The performance was being permitted by Kesha's record label, Kemosabe Records; Kemosabe is controlled by Dr. Luke, the producer Kesha is currently fighting in court. (She's alleged that Dr. Luke subjected her to sexual and emotional abuse over the course of their working relationship.)
Unfortunately, Kemosabe rescinded its approval of the performance earlier this week when reports emerged that Kesha would use it to address her legal turmoil, and it's been removed from the awards show entirely. She'd go on to deny those reports on Instagram; a few days later, Kemosabe reversed course and granted their approval once again, writing it had received "assurances... from Kesha, her representatives, and Dick Clark Productions that neither Kesha nor her supporters will use the performance as such a platform."
While Kesha and Folds' performance at the BBMAs seems to be back on track, you can watch them give a version of it just in case something else happens. Kesha joined Folds and contemporary classical ensemble yMusic on stage at the Orpheum Theater in Los Angeles last night for their encore, and they performed a mini-set that included their cover of Dylan's "It Ain't Me Babe," Folds' "Still Fighting It," and a mashup of Folds' "Rock This Bitch" and Kesha's own "Sleazy." YouTuber OtterFreak posted the performances on YouTube today, and they're equal parts stunning and heartbreaking. It's a pleasure to hear Kesha unleash that voice in an unadorned context, especially if it's been a while since you listened to Warrior or any of her hits from earlier this decade. It's also a shame that she's not free to do much more than hop into someone else's encore right now.
"Thanks for being a good friend in this scary business"
"Dear Mr. Ben Folds, thank you for tonight. Thanks for letting me share your stage, your band, your audience, your humor, your songs," wrote Kesha in an Instagram caption after the show. "Thanks for being nice when we work together. Thanks for letting me play a Bob Dylan cover with you. Thanks for being a good friend in this scary business. And lastly, thanks for cleaning my wine glass with your old man panties." You can check out the "It Ain't Me Babe" cover above, and the other two songs are embedded below.
Update May 19th, 3:30PM ET: According to The New York Times' Joe Coscarelli, Kemosabe Records have once again allowed Kesha's performance at the Billboard Music Awards to take place. The post has been updated to reflect the performance's new status.