Top 5 Characteristics that make Taylor Swift Stand out in the Music Industry

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It was no surprise that her newest album, 1989, won “Album of the Year” at the 2016 Grammy’s earlier this month. At only 26 years old, Taylor Swift has skyrocketed to success. With this year’s three wins, Taylor now has 10 Grammy’s.

Taylor is a truly talented artist who strives to be real with herself and her fans. The effects of stardom can be crippling, but Taylor has been able to remain a respectable individual, even in the wake of pressing celebrity standards.

How has she done this? Taylor exhibits many character qualities that are hard to find in stardom circles. Here are the top 5 reasons why I believe Taylor has been able to retain her integrity and become an incredible artist:

  1. She is real.

Taylor’s music depicts real life for the average person. She sings with genuine heart and feeling about things that everyone can relate with.

  1. She works hard.

This is no question. She has not gotten this far with out a whole lot of hard work.

  1. She is engaging.

Taylor is not afraid to talk to her fans. She is down-to-earth in the sense that she does not puff herself up to be better than everyone else.

  1. She is kind.

We rarely hear about Taylor getting into fights or arguments. She also publicly shows that she appreciates her fans at every concert.

  1. She is approachable.

Taylor has a ginormous fan base, but through her social media outlets she makes herself available to all her fans in a personal way.

These are all qualities that make someone great—whether you have 3 fans or 70 million. I often get stuck thinking that my success is determined by my career. But just think—if Taylor had none of these qualities, would be as big of a star? Don’t ever exchange a kind heart for a larger paycheck. It is often the small character qualities that start in the heart that make someone truly great.

-Megan W

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How Can We Worship God through Secular Music?

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Have you ever found yourself singing along to a song on the radio while you’re in your car, and suddenly, you realize that what you’re singing could very well be used to worship God, even though it may not be a “Christian” song? This may not happen all that often, but there have certainly been times in my life when God has spoken to me through secular music. So what exactly can we, as Christians, do with this when it comes to worship? Is there a way we can truly worship God while listening to or singing along with secular music? I believe there is. Here are three M’s to help give you something to think about and remember:

  1. Mindfulness

I think first of all, we need to remember that most popular music is written through the lens of what society values, which often does not run parallel with the Bible. With this in mind, we can get a better understanding of where the song is coming from and if the lyrics behind it are actually revealing any of God’s truths or not.

  1. Meaning

Similar to mindfulness, it is important that we look at the overall meaning behind the song. We should also think about what it means for us in our own walk with Christ. Is this song encouraging us in our faith? Is it revealing genuine emotions and struggles? Many songs are relatable because they deal with difficult circumstances and feelings, but does the song also offer any kind of hope?

  1. Motivation

Overall, what is our motivation for worship, anyway? This is something that we should take a step back and think about. Is it centered around us or are we focused on God? Often times, we think of worship as a feeling and something we need to be in the mood for, when really, it is an action in response to God’s goodness and mercy.

Hopefully, this will inspire you to go out and find some secular music that reveals God’s truths. Let us know what you find!

-Emily H.

#PrayforKesha

It takes courage to speak, especially when speaking means evoking chaos. I don’t know Kesha personally, of course, but I respect her decision to speak out on the tragedy of being a sexually assaulted victim.

According to an article by The New York Times, Kesha recently filed a lawsuit against Dr. Luke, her music producer. Although Dr. Luke has rejected all claims against him and responded to Kesha’s actions as a means to make money, there are plenty of stars and fans joining ranks with this beloved pop-star.

Fellow female artists like Arianna Grande, Demi Lovato, Kelly Clarkson, and Lady Gaga have been voicing, via social media, their concerns, support, and encouragement. Taylor Swift even donated a large sum of money to help Kesha in her legal battle. The hashtag “Free Kesha” has also been trending.

Demi Lovato stated in a tweet supporting Kesha that “Women empowerment is speaking up for other women even when it’s something uncomfortable to speak up about.” Demi continued saying, “Women empowerment is taking action now, not when it’s convenient.”

What strikes a nerve for so many women is not merely that it is Kesha, a celebrity, but that it is a female—a human being—who is has been taken advantage of in more ways than one. While none of us can know the full story behind what’s happening, I believe that it is important for us to lift up Kesha in prayer and ask for God to provide the justice that is deserved, wherever that may be.

Most of us can’t imagine what it would be like to have our personal, private struggles and shames announced to an entire nation. So instead of using harsh words, passing judgement, or jumping to any conclusions about the situation, let’s remember that Kesha is first and foremost a person as well as a child of God.

-Ruthie F.

3 Rap Songs Christians Should Listen To

I listen to rap when I work out, and I’ve noticed that some of the songs have good lyrics.

Rappers are story-tellers. Yes, they swear and their messages aren’t always Christian. But if we are aware of what to watch out for in secular rap and listen to the radio edits, we can learn a lot.

Here are three rap songs that can help you find beauty and truth in secular rap.

  1. “Not Afraid” by EminemEminem

“I’m not afraid…To take a stand. I guess I had to go to that place to get to this one. Now some of you might still be in that place.”

Eminem’s songs delve into the darkness of his experiences. But his story of struggling is universal. We all have darkness in our pasts and we need to learn how to reconcile these experiences with the futures we want to live.

If we follow Jesus, He is able to carry us out of whatever we are facing.

  1. “Starting Over” by Macklemore

rjuepjfvo3rjjc1pbw3p“I’m just a flawed man… If I can be an example of getting sober, then I can be an example of starting over.”

Falling back into past sin is hard. It is the reminder that we are going to have to fight sin our entire lives.

Macklemore tells the story of his drug relapse, and his raw emotions cut to the core for anyone who has failed to live up to their image.

As Christians, we will feel like are starting over almost every day, but God’s grace does not run out.

  1. “Strong Enough” by B.O.B. featuring Taylor Swiftdownload (4)

“I wish I was strong enough to lift not one but both of us. Someday I will be strong enough to lift not one but both of us.”

This song is a reminder of our perfect weakness. Life is too much for us, and we aren’t strong enough to carry ourselves through it, much less someone else.

But in Christ we embrace weakness. We accept the difficulty of life and learn to lean into God, who is strong enough for all of us.

Flash Back Friday: Beauty in Michael Jackson’s Music

From the Jackson 5 to the Jacksons to emerging as a solo artist, Michael Jackson is a legend. His album “Thriller” is one of the best-selling albums of all time, not to mention his signature dance moves that have become iconic. I’m a bit embarrassed to admit that I Michael Jacksonwasn’t very familiar with him or his music until after his death in 2009. But last year, my roommate and I went through a bit of a Michael Jackson obsession. We blasted his songs almost every morning as we got ready for class, watched videos of his performances, and learned his songs on guitar.

What is it that makes his music so timeless? The catchy bass lines? His unique voice? Or is there more to it than that?

Something that I think makes Michael Jackson’s music beautiful is the emotion that he is able to channel through it. For example, his song “She’s Out of My Life” captures the mixed feelings of a break up. In “They Don’t Care About Us,” he boldly displays his anger toward the media. And then there’s “Man in the Mirror,” which talks about first making a change with yourself in order to make a change in the world.

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Michael Jackson first performed the moonwalk on March 25, 1983 during his song, “Billie Jean.”

I think this is a big reason that Michael’s music has stood the test of time. Sure, the catchy melodies are part of it, but not many other artists that I’ve listened to have been able to so accurately portray such a wide rage of emotions. I would say that his music could be a soundtrack to life. In other words, you can listen to it when you’re sad, angry, happy, going for a jog, or need motivation to do homework (although, you may end up getting completely distracted as you sing and dance along, which usually happens to me).

So what’s your favorite Michael Jackson song? Have any of his lyrics resonated with you in some way or another?

-Emily H.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What Super Bowl Halftime Legacy Will Coldplay Make?

Over 100 million people will tune into the Super Bowl tomorrow. The contest between the Panthers and the Broncos will draw in sports fans, but media fans also pay attention to the Super Bowl for the spectacular halftime show. This year, Coldplay will carry the pressure to deliver a memorable performance.

Artists typically try to build their 12-minute performance around a theme. U2 played “a set that felt proud and dignified, but never maudlin or mawkish” for the post-9/11 world, and last year, Katy Perry showed that nothing is too big or too glamorous for the Super Bowl. Some performers have resorted to offensive tactics to get publicity, like Janet Jackson’s “wardrobe malfunction” in 2004. What will Coldplay’s legacy be?

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Martin and Jonny Buckland, lead guitarist for Coldplay, formed the band in 1996.

Coldplay has traditionally well-liked by Christians because of the spiritual questions they bring up in their songs. Their themes of “incompleteness, fixing souls, and leaps of faith” (Christianity Today) relate well to Christians. Chris Martin, the lead singer and songwriter for Coldplay, grew up in an Episcopal family, but turned from this faith as an adult. He remains theistic, but his searching faith does not correspond with any one religion.

Coldplay’s lyrics build on themes that Christians should be thinking about. Can the band carry over these messages to the halftime performance? I look forward to watching tomorrow and finding the beauty in their message and performance. I have no doubts that Coldplay will give us something new to think about during the second half of the game—while we’re not counting touchdowns, of course.

Navigating the 2016 Grammys When Third Day Is the Only Artist On Your Playlist

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.

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The Grammy Awards air February 15 at 7c

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.