Kesha’s show-stopping rendition of “It Ain’t Me, Babe” was the highlight of Sunday night’s Billboard Music Awards. The slowed version of the Bob Dylan-penned track differed from the popular Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash version. Ben Folds, who handled piano duties, said that was all Kesha.
“We gave her a radical amount of space and she didn’t buckle underneath it,” Folds told Billboard. “She took this giant pause that we never even discussed. I mean, I like danger like that — ‘Okay, where are we going?’ That’s real! I love that. So yeah, she’s dangerous. She’s a badass.”
Folds and Kesha had the gig planned for weeks, and even played the song before the awards show, though it was a rocky ride leading up to the performance; Kesha’s label, Kemosabe Records, gave her permission for the performance and then rescinded it before once again giving her permission. As a result of the uncertainty, Kesha wasn’t accompanied by a small chamber ensemble as originally planned, but instead just Folds’ piano and Rob Moose’s violin.
Folds was asked if he noticed whether the legal battle between Kesha and the music label appeared to adversely affect her; he said it did sometimes, and noted how much Kesha cares for the people who depend on her.
“She’ll talk s— for a while and just be Kesha — and she’s funny as hell, she has me in stitches.” Folds said. “And at the same time I’ve seen it get the best of her a few times where it’s like her nervous system shuts down and it’s tears time. But that’s to be expected. I can’t imagine what that feels like in her position.”
Kemosabe Records producer Dr. Luke, whom Kesha has accused of sexual and drug-related assault, has denied all allegations of wrongdoing.
Read all of Folds’ comments at Billboard.