The Grammys are coming. Dazzling stars, funky chords, and top 50 hits all mixed together in one big awards show. In ten days, the Grammys pick their favorite artists, and the nominees are, as usual, a mixed bag.
2016’s nominees cover a huge genre range and some hard content. In one corner, there’s very spiritual, safe “Soul on Fire” by Third Day. In another, Florence and the Machine‘s “Ship to Wreck” explores unsettling self-destruction. “Uptown Funk” has an infectious beat, but flirts with sex and alcohol like they’re normal.
The 58th Grammy nominees can look pretty uniformly bad at first glance. There’s plenty to cringe at, but there’s a lot of good too.
“See You Again” gently faces friendship and separation in death. 1989 is all about messy, broken relationships but also moving past them. “Thinking Out Loud” shows a faithful relationship that lasts to old age.
None of the nominees are perfect. It can be frustrating to turn on the radio to yet another song about sleeping around. But a common thread is longing. Longing for meaning or identity or hope. Most of the songs look for answers in some pretty broken places. A few stay there and call it good enough. But other artists fix their eyes on better alternatives. Brotherhood, healing, faithfulness.
Very few reach God as their answer, but their search can be beautiful too. The songs can remind us of the human condition and show us good—and not so good—ways to deal with our longing and struggles.
The Grammys might not have the answers, but they can help us voice questions we might not otherwise know how to ask.