Music/My Culture Mid-Year Music Review by Caitlin Sica Have you ever found a song in which the lyrics, or the music (preferably both), totally resonate with you? As you listened to it you thought, “this song gets me, this song is me, I have never found a song that more perfectly describes what I’m going through.” And then, if you’re anything like me, you proceed to consume that song — you listen to it on repeat, over, and over again — until you and the song are one. It’s pretty amazing when that happens, isn’t it? Music is an incredible language that speaks to each of us in unique ways. Nevertheless, it can also be easy to listen to a song without thinking twice about the message it’s sending. And, oftentimes, these are powerful messages that we should be thinking twice about. Here’s a little insight into some of the good that we can glean from a few of the top songs of 2018. P.S. — While there’s good in these songs, they’re written by humans. Identifying the good doesn’t equate to a stamp of approval over everything they do! Top 5 Songs of 2018… so far 1. “In My Blood” by Shawn Mendes Every time I listen to this song, it happens to be late at night when I’m driving home. My heart always hurts when I hear it because I used to be the girl “lying on the bathroom floor, feeling nothing,” the girl who’s “looking through my phone again feeling anxious, afraid to be alone again.” By the grace of God, these lyrics don’t describe where I’m at today, but they do remind me of people I care about who are currently living in that darkness. I want nothing more than to be the person who helps them. “In My Blood” is a snapshot into the life of someone who is crying out for help, someone who is overwhelmed by life and feels like giving up. The song goes through some of the ways society tells us to numb our pain: “Just have a drink and you’ll feel better, just take her home and you’ll feel better.” But it also raises the question as to whether or not these things ever make it better, ultimately implying that they do not. I think we can all relate to the feeling of needing someone to help drag us out of our pain, out of our sorrow, out of our loneliness; the acknowledgment that we can’t do this on our own. Through our faith, we know that we can’t do this alone — we need a Savior — which is why we need to turn to Jesus, the divine healer, in those moments of darkness instead of the empty promises of the world — like alcohol, drugs, and sex — which will only leave us feeling emptier than we did before. 2. “Magic” by Sia I like this song because it reminds us to find the “magic” (read: God), in all those little, everyday moments. How often do we go through life waiting for some big miracle, some big sign, instead of realizing all of the little ways God makes His presence known to us? By our faith in God, we’ve been given the grace to see the extraordinary in the ordinary. This song serves as a reminder to do just that. 3. “Pray for Me” by The Weeknd and Kendrick Lamar This song honestly expresses the hurt and anger that has resulted from tragic events our world encounters all too frequently. Sadly, I imagine its lyrics resonate with many people: “I’m tryna fight back tears, flood on my doorsteps, Life a livin’ hell, puddles of blood in the streets, Shooters on top of the building, government aid ain’t relief. Earthquake, the body dropped, the ground breaks.” These words struck a chord with me because when I hear about all of the suffering people endure, I become overwhelmed by sadness and heartache. The song suggests that there is no one out there to save us from all of these things: “Who gon’ pray for me? Take my pain for me? Save my soul for me? ‘Cause I’m alone, you see.” It is tempting to question God’s existence in the midst of horrible events, to believe that we’re all alone, and to reject Him so that we can live by our own rules. Perhaps that’s why, at the end of the song, The Weeknd and Lamar repeat, “Just in case my faith go, I’ll live by my own law.” But we have to fight this temptation. God has given us a reason to hold onto hope in His victory over sin and death on the Cross — Jesus has saved our souls and given meaning to even the greatest suffering. Also, never forget that the communion of saints — the Church — is praying for you! 4. “Sick Boy” by The Chainsmokers Oh man. I could probably write an entire article on this song. Every time I listen to it, I pick up on some new truth this song is expressing. The lyrics get at the heart of our relativistic, individualistic society (relativism is the belief that there is no absolute truth, that truth/morality is dependent upon external factors and is subject to change). I’m really struck by the lines, “Welcome to the narcissism, where we’re united under our indifference.” This line touches on the fact that because we’re so egotistical — basing our self-worth on followers and likes — we’ve become detached from everything around us and this is ultimately what unites us. Of course, there is some satire and exaggeration in that line, but satire often points to truth. Our faith challenges us to rise above this relativistic attitude — this indifference. In fact, as Catholics, because we’ve encountered authentic love in Jesus, we must refuse to be indifferent. We cannot be apathetic to others’ suffering, to injustice, or to seeing the dignity in every single person and acting accordingly. We know truth and our truth does not change because of our circumstances. Our truth is rooted in the person of Jesus Christ, who has shown us that love doesn’t remain indifferent — it commits to the point of death. 5. “Next to Me” by Imagine Dragons Out of the five songs, this might be my favorite. I’m reminded of my family and friends, especially my parents and my sister. I mess up all of the time, but there were a few years in particular I kept making poor decisions, putting myself in bad situations and relationships, and was struggling mentally/emotionally. There’s no doubt in my mind that it was difficult to love me during that stage — I certainly didn’t make it easy. Yet, my family kept choosing to “overlook the bloody mess” and continued to “still want me.” This song reminds me of their unwavering love; a love that allowed me to pick up the broken pieces and heal; a love that revealed the heart of God. Ultimately, this song is about unconditional love — something our world needs a lot more of: “And oh, stupid things I do, I’m far from good, it’s true, but still I find you next to me.” I’m sure when you hear/read those words, you are reminded of at least one person in your life who remains by your side even when you make mistakes. And I hope you are a pillar of love for someone in your life, despite their shortcomings. That type of unconditional love — a love that bears wrongs patiently, a love that is unwavering, a love that does not see us for our sin — -is the love we receive from our Father, God. Today, more than ever before, people are spending their time listening to music. So the next time you listen to a song, I invite you to try and listen to the lyrics more thoughtfully and determine where the song reflects (or doesn’t reflect) our desire and need for God. Better yet, create a playlist of songs that reflect this desire and reveal the love of the Father. What songs would be on your list?!