If there is any one human experience that is truly universal, it's a broken heart.

There is no pain quite as sharp or as lasting as your very first heartbreak, which is not to say subsequent heartbreaks are easy. But what remains consistent through it all is the power of music to offer comfort and catharsis. Whether your heart is broken for the first or the fiftieth time, these songs will help you throughout every stage of your journey to healing. Some are angry and defiant, some are sad and self-pitying, and some are about letting go and moving on. Whatever kind of break up song you need right now, we guarantee it's on this list.

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Thanksgiving has always been about food.

We suffer through the awkward small talk and often anti-climactic football games for the sake of the meal that awaits us at the end of the day, and even then that "meal" is representative of ethnic cleansing and genocide. But there are a few other pros that lay outside of gorging yourself on mashed potatoes. The holiday always falls on a Thursday, which means you always have a four day weekend. Black Friday is also the following day, so despite whatever infuriating experiences you may have on Thanksgiving with your family, you can at least rest easy knowing you can go out and buy enough stuff to numb the pain.

These reasons alone are enough to warrant celebration. So while you clench your jaw through what is almost guaranteed to be a painfully long afternoon, why not curate some music to help elevate your mood and remind yourself that a four day weekend of relaxation awaits?

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A Decade of Kesha: The Pop Star We Don't Deserve

The singer's debut album Animal is ten years old this week.

In 2008, an unknown singer by the name of Kesha Sebert was summoned to sing the brief female hook for what would become a No. 1 hit.

This song was called "Right Round" by Flo Rida, and it topped the charts for six consecutive weeks. Kesha—comically stylized as Ke$ha at the time—was uncredited on the track in the U.S., and critics denounced it for its hokey sample and crass sexual innuendos. But her success wasn't hindered; she swiftly landed a record deal with RCA after "Right Round" dropped, at last given the foundation she deserved to pump out a No. 1 hit (or three) of her own.

Flo Rida - Right Round (feat. Ke$ha) [US Version] (Official Video) www.youtube.com

Prior to her collaboration with Flo Rida, Kesha had already been hustling for quite a while. She spent seven years writing over 200 songs that'd eventually be whittled down for her debut album, Animal, which turned ten years old this week. Before "Right Round," she'd been heavily active in the pop music sphere, working on songs with Britney Spears and appearing in the music video for her friend Katy Perry's "I Kissed a Girl." And songwriting was in Kesha's DNA: Her mom, Pebe Sebert, wrote Joe Sun's "Old Flames Can't Hold a Candle to You" in the '70s, which would be covered by Dolly Parton and become a hit. With the release of her breakout single, "Tik Tok," a new patron saint of partying had arrived.

Kesha came up with the idea for "Tik Tok" after half-drunkenly stumbling home from a night out. Her living situation at the time was a house in L.A.'s Laurel Canyon, where she crashed with a constantly-rotating cast of bohemian roommates. "I woke up one day after we went to a party, and I was surrounded by ten of the most beautiful women you've ever seen," she told Esquire of "Tik Tok"'s conception. Which is to say: She woke up in the morning feeling like P. Diddy.

YouTube www.youtube.com

These themes of shameless partying permeated Animal to the point that some critics and naysayers deemed her inauthentic, crude, and unsophisticated. But even while covered in glitter during her live performances, there was an endearing, welcoming quality to Kesha; she grew up poor and proved that you didn't have to be flush with cash to have a glamorous night. She flaunted her self-described "garbage can chic" aesthetic, taking the bus to the bar and smuggling in liquor to avoid steep drink prices.

But glitter, alcohol, and boys aside, Kesha knew from the beginning that she wanted to serve as a symbol of liberation for her young female listeners. "For girls, I think [Animal is] an empowering record," she told Seventeen. "It's funny, it's cheeky. I think people need to have fun with whatever they're doing—makeup, their clothes, music, live shows—anything you don't need to take too seriously, don't take too seriously." During her concerts, she'd don a backpack confetti cannon, and she refused to wear high heels because she couldn't safely dance in them.

Kesha stood for the girls who didn't give a f--k and lived as they please. That's why it was especially horrifying when news broke in 2014 that Kesha had sued her longtime producer, Dr. Luke, for sexual assault and battery, sexual harassment, gender violence, emotional abuse, and violation of California business practices. Dr. Luke countersued Kesha for defamation, and all of Kesha's claims were dismissed.

Kesha vs. Dr. Luke: A timeline www.youtube.com

The singer returned in July 2017 with her first single in four years, "Praying," a soulful ballad that became associated with the #MeToo movement. "This song is about me finding peace in the fact that I can't control everything — because trying to control everyone was killing me," she wrote in an essay accompanying the song's release. "It's about learning to let go and realize that the universe is in control of my fate, not me. It's from our darkest moments that we gain the most strength...I hope this song reaches people who are in the midst of struggles, to let them know that no matter how bad it seems now, you can get through it. If you have love and truth on your side, you will never be defeated. Don't give up on yourself."

Kesha has always preached strength and freedom in her music. Whether wrapped up in the excitement of heading to a raging party or in the euphoria of healing from trauma, the decade since Animal has proven that Kesha is a dynamic force not only in pop music, but womanhood.

Kesha - Praying (Official Video) www.youtube.com


Bridget Kelly Celebrates Love on Her New EP

The "In The Grey" singer-songwriter talks to Popdust about her new project The Great Escape, a sweet and joyful exploration of romance and growth.


Bridget Kelly takes love seriously, and she thinks you should too.

That's not to say her new EP, The Great Escape, takes itself too seriously. The New York native's latest project examines love in its many facets, from the first excitement of a crush, into self-assured lust, and down to the heartfelt apologies. Kelly writes less about specific relationships and more about how her love reveals itself, what she values and what she has to offer. Produced by industry mainstays Ayo n Keyz, the project bubbles with Kelly's joy and playfulness, the sleek R&B desire of lead single "Lucky You" flowing perfectly into the sweeping vastness of "Don't Wait."

It's fun to hear how Kelly, a former Love and Hip-Hop: Hollywood and Roc Nation alumna, puts herself centerstage on The Great Escape. The project sounds different than her previous work, but her voice is strong and wrapped in a new tenderness, and she sounds like she relishes the opportunity to write outward. The Great Escape is about what she's willing to give, and what it feels like when she gets it back, for better and for worse. Popdust was able to reach out to Kelly to talk about her inspirations for the EP, and how her focus and priorities have grown along with her sound.

What was different for you going into the studio for The Great Escape? What was something new you wanted to focus on?

I felt really sexy and confident on this project. It was meant to showcase the excitement of a new crush or new love, which is always so hopeful. I'm a mushy romantic anyway.

You're a born-and-raised New Yorker, and there are elements of this EP that feel like they pull on classic New York-rap-R&B sound, especially on "It's True" and "Just Playin." How intentional was it to bring a hometown sound with you onto The Great Escape?

My favorite time of the year is summer, and there's nothing like a New York summer. I've lived in L.A. for a few years now, but the heavy basslines, percussion and pianos are big New York elements I've always loved. Every song on this project was meant to drive down the West Side Highway to.

You take a really close look on this project at how love, desire and trust can overlap and get messy. What inspired that focus on love here, and what do you hope a listener hears in it?

Love is ever changing, that's part of why I'm so fascinated by it. I'm always inspired by my own experiences and the ones of those close to me, so there's plenty of different perspectives to take as a writer. I want listeners to be filled with the endless optimism of summer. The idea of a "great escape" is really about finding joy and freedom, whether you find love or not.

What was behind the decision to make "Lucky You" the single, and how do you feel it fits in context with the rest of the project?

"Lucky You" was the obvious choice. All the songs on this EP have a variety of personalities, but that personality, that sexy carefree assertiveness, is a side of myself I haven't shared with the world. Felt right to make a splash like that right outta the gate.

So I was watching the "Special Delivery" and "Street Dreamin" music videos before the interview today; those songs feel a long way off from The Great Escape, not just in time, but in how your voice and sound have developed. What's changed about your music, and what you want from it, since you first arrived in the industry?

I'm glad the evolution hasn't gone unnoticed! I make music that feels good to me. My album Reality Bites, as well as my Summer of 17 EP, were both thematic. I'm a storyteller, I doubt that will change where my songwriting is concerned. When I first started, I didn't feel like I had as much say in what was being released. Now that I'm independent, I'm able to create what I want and drop it on my own terms. My goal with my music now is to broaden my audience, one short-form project at a time.

What do you have lined up next? How are you hoping to expand The Great Escape and bring it to fans?

Up next is a follow up EP called Single Player Game, figure I'll drop another song in a few months and then the rest at the top of the year. I've been in my songwriting bag lately so I want to keep cranking out as many projects as I can. I'd love to hit the road and perform, get some of the records on TV shows and commercials. Then get back to hosting on TV again. I really love interviewing other artists, and hosting panels about love and relationships. I'd love to host my very own late night show someday.

To you, is The Great Escape about growth as much as it is about love? What do you want it to say about your future as an artist?

The Great Escape represents a couple of things for me. The growth comes from finding wholeness and feeling complete whether I'm in a relationship or not. But I find that my disposition in life as well as my music always comes back to love. I read something recently about how some people are just on an endless search and never really find the love that they're looking for. I think I find new things to love about life whenever the love I'm seeking doesn't work out. That's the ultimate escape.

Listen to The Great Escape below!


Justine Blazer: The Country Rock Diva Everyone Should Be Talking About

Her new album deserves Kacey Musgraves' level attention.

We're past due to add a new name to the pantheon of female country rockers.

It's been a few years since we've had a Shania or a Clarkson come along and give us a good kick in the teeth. With the arrival of Justine Blazer's debut album, Pioneer Soul Shaker, however, we might have a fix for you. Featuring rocking guitar riffs, stretched out solos, vocal finesse, and lyrics that'd feel right at home on CMR, it feels like we've just won country rock bingo. Add the fact that Blazer self-produced the entire affair, and the stage is set for something truly fresh and original.

We jump in at "No Tomorrow," which has a blustery early Kelly Clarkson feel. Edgy guitar snarks fill out the sound as Justine sings an ode to dance-fueled nights of escapism. A pounding drumbeat with synth currents gives it flow and carries us safely in to the world of her album. From there we move in to the titular "Pioneer Soul Shaker." This opens with the slow swagger of drums and classic rock guitars dominating the airwaves. It almost has an Alanis Morisette feel, though the lyrics are definitely more country than grunge. As her sound starts to coalesce, positive echoes of the 90s keep reverberating. Between expansive guitar solos and hard drum kicks, it's all there.

Next, she takes things down a notch with "Cigarettes and Secrets," the most radio-friendly of the album's fare. Mustangs, good girls being bad (but not that bad), and heartbreak make up the subject matter, creating a song that's fit for any Nashville highway. It's a pretty sexy slow jam, and there's probably a great acoustic cover out there for the taking. Then the album really starts to find its groove.

"Can't Buy Free" is badass. With banjo reminiscent of Jack Lawrence on a couple of Raconteurs tracks, a braggadocious guitar riff that'd make AC/DC envious, and a drumbeat Steve Tyler would strut to, this has all the elements of a solid anthem. The more Blazer plays her hand, the more we like her. Back in slower territory we have "Girl in the Lights." Here, Blazer frames herself as the girl you could have had. It's a revenge pop ballad with surging synth pulls and lyrics that exceed expectations. It's well-worn territory, but Blazer puts enough of her own spin on it to stand out among the crowd.

"Good Luck With That" is Blazer's girl power rock show: another drum kick, another power chord riff, and another session guitar solo. It's pretty intense, cementing the album's statement that Blazer is a country rock diva. The track is followed immediately by "Broken Girls Don't Cry, and the title tells you everything you need to know. Blazer is your tough country rocker chick. She's pissed you left her, so she's going to drink whiskey, kick back at you, and be sad, but she's not going to cry.

On "Replay" we get into something different and fresh. This track almost has a dance feel. You could play this at a club and get the crowd jumping. It blends bright jumping synths with summery rock vibes to create a bona fide ear worm. "Get Dirty" does the same. A scuzzy guitar lick intros the track, followed by lyrics and vocal rasp that sound like Shania when she wants to get nasty. It's a song that could define a movie soundtrack, and if there's any justice in the world, it's only a matter of time.

We slow down once more at "Heartbreak Prison," which is, for a change, piano-driven. It's a solid ballad, lyrically interesting, and well put together, if a little standard in subject matter. We then move in to "Been Around," the last of the originals on the album. Here, Blazer seems to be channelling pop punk at the edges, the core of the song is still solid 90s rock. It's a great penultimate track; with its punchy lyrics, it's the best solo on the album, just crying out to be a karaoke favorite.

Blazer finishes off with a slowed down cover of "Sweet Child of Mine." It's well-conducted, emotional, and familiar. She uniquely layers her vocals and adds pre-shocks and echoes that elevate it above just being another cover. It's a sweet, melancholy way to close out an album, but it's still a bold finish.

All in all, this is a strong showing for a first album. "Can't Buy Free," "Replay," and "Been Around" bring the fun in a way that a lot of country songs forgets to. The album also never drags, which is a trap for a lot of country rock. Each track stands out with its own style; and, most importantly, the record is never too wrapped up in its own self-importance. This album is an achievement for Blazer as a singer, songwriter, and producer. As a whole, it might beg for a little variation, but it's damn good fun, and there's a long way to go before Blazer wears out her welcome.

Pioneer Soul Shaker