I think [in] the process of making this record [Silver Landings], something that was important to me was coming to terms with that 15-year old version of Mandy because she still lives in me; I carry her around. She’s kind of the reason I’m here today and still have a semblance of a career. So I’ve made peace with the embarrassment I think I had over the creative choices that I’d made at that point in my life. And I also have an appreciation for the fact that I came out of that — what would have been a pretty tumultuous time as a young person in the pop music scene, thrust in this adult world — I’ve come out the other end kind of a functioning adult. [The line “No regrets, with a few exceptions”] is a bit of cheeky nod, I think, maybe to stuff that is a bit more surface, like some of the fashion choices I made. I’ll still apologize for those; the ’90s were not really kind to me. Considering the fact that we’re going on the road and I want to honour that part of my life and my career — and perhaps people and their nostalgic connection to that time in music, as well — I’ve been revisiting some of [my old music]. I mean, I know that people are coming on the road and want to hear “Candy,” so that’s a no-brainer to me. But listening back to that era of music, there’s definitely some songs that I’m like “Okay, this wasn’t so bad. I’m excited to figure out a new arrangement of this song.” I feel like some of these songs — maybe not all of them — can lend themselves to an acoustic rendition, and I’m excited to see people’s reactions if they come to see us on the road.
‘…mainstream music has always been a foreign thing to me prior to my blog post series that I started to undertake last year. Not that there’s anything wrong with listening to mainstream music, I know plenty of people who are good loving Christians who do in fact prefer mainstream music over Christian music. And that’s ok. But for me throughout my childhood, I grew up listening to Carman, Delirious?, Steven Curtis Chapman, Tim Hughes, the people who solidified my own faith in Jesus was in fact people who specialised in singing about Him. And thus now as I continue to grow in my faith, I realise that mainstream music and music that doesn’t explicitly sing about Jesus, but rather sing about life and all its struggles, isn’t necessarily the big, bad thing that we often believe it is. Mainstream music can be as pivotal and poignant to the society of today as can Christian music be, because if all good music that speaks to the soul comes from God anyway, then it doesn’t matter if a word about Jesus is spoken or not- God can use whoever, whomever, and whatever, to convey what He wants us to understand and comprehend, even if the music is just a regular pop song on the radio…’ This quote above where I discuss about mainstream music, is as relevant now as it was when I wrote it a few weeks ago as the start of a review of a mainstream album that was reviewed here on 365DaysofInspiringMedia.com.
Mainstream music for me has always taken a bit of a back seat throughout my life, and it was only when I heavily invested my time and my intrigue and interest into this blog series that I started to undertake last year, that I truly understood that there was a lot of mainstream music out there that I was missing. That mainstream music was just another avenue of music that God can and does use for Himself to be revealed in our lives whenever we hear the music, either currently of now, or of the years gone by of yesteryear. As I’m about to undertake blog post #40 this week, I have reflected upon the artists I’ve delved into thus far: Delta Goodrem, Lifehouse, Sara Bareilles, Ronan Keating, Owl City, Martina McBride, U2, The McClymonts, Shania Twain, Ed Sheeran, Rascal Flatts, Evanescence, OneRepublic, Tina Arena and Daughtry, to name a few; have all had impacting and influential careers in music over the years. And all of them have been instrumental in the reshaping of my own views of mainstream music since my discoveries of this wide array of music from last year onward. And, all these artists aforementioned are under the label or category of ‘mainstream’ music, or just music that isn’t Christian, or ‘religious’ in any way. And maybe, just maybe, mainstream music doesn’t have to be as bad as I myself originally thought it was back in high school. It was only last year that I was stretched in my understanding and comprehension of what good music really looked like, and that it was ok for me to enjoy music that wasn’t Christian in any way, and that God Himself could move if He wanted to, speaking to me through the unlikeliest of sources, even mainstream music. And that’s ok!
Let me pose you a question. You don’t have to answer, you don’t even have to ponder an answer if the question doesn’t relate to you. When do you all reckon is a right time for an individual to pursue music as a career? As a teenager, or further on in life, maybe in the 20s or 30s? The issue of having child singers and teenagers in and amongst the music industry at a young age has been heavily debated for quite some time; and will be debated for some time yet. The truth is…well, I don’t think there is a definite answer about whether someone you is young, who is talented in music, if they should be thrusted into the music industry at that particular time or not. Because ultimately, the decision has to be made by said family, knowing full well that the music industry, or any other entertainment industry for that matter, is filled with things that maybe, just maybe, a young people may not be mature enough to handle on a regular basis. Musicians and singers have a hectic schedule, touring all the time, on the road, and missing important events, even being away from family and friends for the sake of promoting albums at various times throughout the year. Enter in an artist who started off in the music industry when she was just a teenager way back in 1999, and now in 2020, is entering the year with her seventh album, Silver Landings. Mandy Moore, who is in her own right both a musician and singer-songwriter, alongside being a very successful actress, started off in the music business young, and when I say young, I mean 15 years old young. Yes, that may seem like a lifetime ago when Mandy Moore first started her career in music, and yes, during her teen-pop heyday, she was in the forefront alongside other similar-style bubblegum-pop artists like Christina Aguilera, Jessica Simpson and Britney Spears. But now standing in 2020, and looking back on the career she has had both in music and as an actress, Mandy’s evolving nature of changing her musical style from teen-pop to folk-acoustic-70s ‘Fleetwood-Mac-style’ music is proof and evidence that such a change in music style can be done, if only for a little break away from the industry to realign, recharge, and refocus.
If you would peel back Mandy’s music career into a few sections or parts, you’d probably classify them into 3- teen-pop pre-2004 (2004 was when her first compilation best-of project was released), alternative pop-rock (2007’s Wild Hope and 2009’s Amanda Leigh), as well as her new genre currently right now in 2020 on Silver Landings– sort of a folksy-Fleetwood-Mac style. And because of a drastically different music genre throughout one person’s career, to put it bluntly, it’s like listening to three totally different artists, even though you know it’s one. Nevertheless, Mandy’s music, regardless of the genre, has been instrumental in shaping the early 2000s and creating an avenue for people to hear what was popular and relevant for teenagers who were around that particular time. For me, I wasn’t part of that crowd- mainly because I was heavily listening to artists like Delirious? and Carman way back in the day; and so for me to see how far Mandy has gone musically and stylistically over the years has been interesting to see and to discover, understanding that maybe, just maybe, the styles of music that she was to release during her teenage years, may not have been what she really wanted to release musically, which I reckon post-2006 (from Wild Hope onward) was more akin musically to what she wanted to make and produce.
Despite the varying music styles of Mandy’s career, her music has been impactful for the people of that particular time period, and seeing her come out the other side of being teen music pop-star, relatively unscathed (except for a brutal and heavy divorce, and a stifling of a music career that sadly lasted 11 years), showcases the immense strength, bravery, grace and perseverance of Mandy through her years of change, both on a personal and professional level. Releasing her first two albums So Real and I Wanna Be With You in 1999 and 2000 respectively, these two albums featured more of a teen-pop ‘boy-band’ style, like if the Backstreet Boys where female and singing such songs- that’s how I can explain the style of music that Mandy was travelling towards during that particular time period. Which is ok, there’s nothing wrong with that particular style of music at all, because bands like Backstreet Boys pull-off the boy-band ‘teen-pop’ atmosphere quite well. But maybe, for me, upon hearing a lot of Silver Landings, and then hearing the music here from So Real and I Wanna Be With You, I sadly find it hard to believe that the style of music sung when she initially started off in a career of music, was really what she wanted to sing, given the lyrical and music maturity in her styles from Wild Hope onward. Nevertheless, both So Real and I Wanna Be With You saw immense success in the Billboard charts- songs like ‘Candy’, ‘So Real’, ‘Quit Breaking My Heart’, ‘Walk Me Home’, ‘The Way to My Heart’, ‘Lock Me In Your Heart’ and ‘I Wanna Be With You’ have all struck a chord with many listeners around the world who listened to Mandy around the 1999-2000 period. While I myself prefer much of her later music compared to her earlier teen-pop styles (much of that era of music from Mandy sounds very similar musically and even lyrically and stylistically, to that of Backstreet Boys- not a bad thing, but sadly much of her first 2 albums lack originality in a way that much of her earlier songs are indistinguishable from each other and at times, forgettable); her songs on both her first two albums do in fact have some validity, as we know that teen-pop impacts and influences someone in the world…but maybe, just not me!
Mandy’s journey from being a teen-pop star to that of recording music in a Fleetwood Mac-esque way has been a long and slow one, but one that gives a lot of credit to her own maturity over the years, realising and recognising that the music that she was brought up to sing may not have been the genre that she really wanted to be in anyway. Which takes a lot of guts and courage, to change your genre of music mid-way throughout a music career. Which is practically what Mandy herself did. Upon releasing her self-titled Mandy Moore album in 2001, gone was the teen-pop danceable heartfelt generic love songs that sadly littered her first two albums quite frequently, and in place of the overarching teen-love messages, were ones that were a little more out-of-the-box and experimental. ‘In My Pocket’, the first single from the album, is musically different from songs previous, presenting more of a Middle Eastern musical atmosphere, as the song speaks of an issue we as humans long to understand and want to desperately unravel and figure out for ourselves- this issue of love, and whether it is as unconditional as it should be, or if the love that we believe to be unconditional that is in our own personal lives, really has strings attached. The song itself poses the question ‘how much for your love’, a notion that often people believe to be true- that the love that is given to us is somehow conditional, that the love that we receive is only given if there is something to gain in return. ‘In My Pocket’ alludes to the fact that more times than not, we don’t have anything to give the other person who we want love from. And maybe that’s the point- that the love that we ought to receive anyway on a daily basis should be unconditional- that the answer to the question that is posed in ‘In My Pocket’- ‘how much for your love’ should in fact, be ‘nothing’. And most times it is- from your close friends and family. Such a song as this gives rise to us looking into our own lives to see which people are in our inner circles that require things from us for love to be given from them to us…even if we don’t know it.
Both ‘Cry’ and ‘Crush’ are other songs that have been standouts on Mandy Moore, the former being a heartfelt ballad about being vulnerable and opening up feelings to your significant other that would otherwise be buried and hidden, that was also present on the soundtrack for the movie A Walk to Remember, featuring Mandy in the main role alongside fellow actor Shane West (who is the husband of Chyler Leigh, who stars as Alex Danvers on the CW hit TV show Supergirl); while ‘Crush’, a song that I have definitely heard before on the radio way back when, is a song that speaks of the persona’s crush on a person and how they need to confess this rather unhealthy obsession before it eats them up- a song that I’m sure will never really be sung now in 2020, when Mandy herself is happily married. Nevertheless, both ‘Cry’ and ‘Crush’ have a sense of maturity, that many of the songs from her in the 1999/2000s period didn’t really have, which showcases Mandy’s ability to break the mould of what she once was pegged inside of, and experiment both musically and thematically as further along as her discography goes, the more deep and meaningful her songs become.
As Mandy continued to grow as a singer-songwriter and venture into musical territories that was deemed experimental and alternative the older she got, so too did she venture into things outside of music as well. A Walk to Remember, quite possibly her most famous movie she’s ever been a part of throughout her whole TV and movie career, was released in 2002, and featured the romance between two young teenagers while in the middle of facing difficulty and hardship. A movie that is deemed a classic by many, I personally haven’t seen this- and while I may not be within the age confines in which this movie is aimed to target, A Walk to Remember nevertheless is such a film that will be continually remembered for quite some time yet- even if I haven’t seen movies, doesn’t mean that I can’t appreciate good storytelling and cinema for what it’s worth. Mandy’s breakout role was A Walk To Remember, and many are also saying that’s her best as well. Described as a ‘coming of age’ ‘romantic tragedy’ according to my good ol’ trusted friend Wikipedia, this movie, based off the Nicholas Sparks book of the same name, has become one of the first of many book-to-movie adaptions by Nicholas- movies like The Notebook, Dear John and The Last Song were all from his repertoire. Mandy’s film roles kept coming after A Walk to Remember– Chasing Liberty, where she plays the teenaged daughter of the U.S. President who is disillusioned with life in the spotlight, Saved!, a satirical movie about Christianity and the ‘perfectness’ and the perception of what people see from the outside, with Mandy herself playing someone over-the-top and ‘miss perfect’; Racing Stripes, a comedy-family movie of a circus zebra Stripes who believes he is a race-house, where Mandy plays the voice of one of the other zebras who is supportive of Stripes and his dream, and Licenced to Wed, a comedy movie about wedding and marriage starring Mandy as the bride-to-be, and Robin Williams at his comedic best as a reverend in a church; are just some of the many, many movies that Mandy herself has branched out to after A Walk to Remember. While some movies have had more success at the box office than others, the fact of the matter remains- that Mandy’s continued appearance in movies and her talent for such things is a reminder that people who undertake both music and acting can make it work- Mandy is one such example.
During this time of movie success during the mid-to-late 2000s, Mandy’s music career continued to travel along at a nice steady rate- after her self-titled album in 2001, she unveiled to us one full of just covers, aptly and appropriately titled Coverage– featuring standout songs by lesser-known artists (but the song itself in its original form is still known even if the artist isn’t), from ‘I Feel the Earth Move’ (Carole King) and ‘One Way or Another’ (Blondie) to the ever-reliable and uplifting ‘Have A Little Faith in Me’ (John Hiatt). While for me I’ve always felt that an album full of covers seem to be a little bit of a cop-out when it comes to people releasing such albums and marketing it as a ‘studio’ album, it is nevertheless a reminder that a song is much more than the artist singing it. Mandy makes much of the covers on Coverage her own; and gives her great spin on songs that are timeless, yet still may be swept under the rug and forgotten in favour for newer songs by newer more popular artists. Mandy also continued to unveil more covers and original material in the upcoming years- Mandy’s cover of Switchfoot’s ‘Only Hope’ was for the movie A Walk to Remember, while songs like ‘Top of the World’ and ‘Secret Love’ were from soundtracks to the movies Stuart Little 2 and Mona Lisa Smile respectively- the former is an inspirational song speaking of someone who lifts up the persona and places them on top of the world in a metaphorical sense, giving the person more faith in humanity and themselves, while the latter is a song about a love between two people that was initially secret, but over the course of said song, becomes a love that is willing to be uttered, declared and pronounced with much pride, a reminder that secrets in and of themselves aren’t meant to be held by the secret-bearer forever, often shame and bitterness ensures when secrets are held inside for longer than necessary.
Mandy’s collection of songs up until the mid-2000s were bundled in a compilation best-of album titled The Best of Mandy Moore, featuring songs from her stint as a pop-teen-pop singer. It was from this point onward where Mandy grew as an artist herself- and ventured upon a path that will ultimately take her from the stardom of being a teen-idol to that of being a seasoned and mature artist who’s risk-taking artistically would pay off and create some of the more nuanced and emotive alternative-style albums to ever grace our ears in modern music history. The albums following The Best of Mandy Moore– Wild Hope, Amanda Leigh and Silver Landings in particular, all show Mandy’s impressive lyrical content, and remind us all that a shift in musical genre, mid-way through someone’s music career, should be looked upon with less judgement and more inquisitiveness- in the case of Mandy, her musical shift is all for the better, and proof that a switch from teen-boppy-pop to folk-acoustic can and in fact happen. Genre shifts doesn’t mean an end to an artist’s musical career, and for Mandy, the exact opposite was actually true.
Wild Hope graced our homes around the world in 2007, and even with one listen to this album as a whole, we know that this direction by Mandy through this album is certainly different than much of her previous material…and that can be a good thing. Even the themes and the messages behind much of the songs on the album seem more grounded and personal compared to the teen-pop music Mandy had undertaken previously. ‘Extraordinary’, the first single on the album, was a song that was certainly familiar when I heard it a little while ago, then realising that I did hear the song…just thirteen years ago on the radio when it first released. Yes, that’s how long it was for me to hear ‘Extraordinary’ again…mind you, when I did hear it the first time, I didn’t know it was Mandy Moore…I just thought it was a catchy song. And now, hearing it again? It’s a good song still- a reminder that often the person keeping you down from moving from the ordinary to the extraordinary is yourself. What we may think about ourselves and what we believe our capabilities to be may often be far less than what we know we are. We are capable of so much more than we as humans give ourselves credit for, and such a song as this, if it can be a catalyst for people to see more in the extraordinary than the ordinary and long for things to change, all the while being the people we know we can be on a daily basis, then this song has served its purpose.
Other songs on Wild Hope also continue to challenge and inspire- ‘All Good Things’, as morbid as a song really is, about the ending of relationships and the understanding that all ‘good’ things come to an end; is nevertheless a timely reminder that for new things to arise, other older, sometimes ‘good’ things have to die; while ‘Slummin’ in Paradise’ speaks of a situation where famous people date (or maybe even marry) non-famous ones, as the song suggests that that notion is ok and welcomed, knowing that the famous person I’m sure will still love and appreciate the other even if they aren’t attached to fame or money. ‘A Few Days Down’ looks at the sobering message of an aftermath of difficult news (breakups, reactions to traumas etc.) and how it is natural to feel like a few days need to be taken for the sake of realigning, self-management and letting out emotions that may have been held in for some time; while a song like ‘Looking Forward to Looking Back’ allows for the message of hindsight to travel to us through song- it is a reminder that to look back at our lives from the other side is to look back with wisdom and a humble heart. Mandy in the song says she’s looking forward to ‘looking back’- being in anticipation of the idea of taking stock of one’s life, to look back at all your triumphs and tribulations and say that everything was good in the end, even if at that particular moment, we may not have believed it was. ‘Wild Hope’, the title track, extends the understanding that nothing in this world is permanent- that even the feeling we sit in now won’t last forever, and that even if we may find what we want to believe to be ‘crazy’, this little thing called hope is what we should hold onto- even if hope itself may seem a little wild to hold or even uncertain to even believe in. Nevertheless, songs on Wild Hope carry with it a sense of beauty and longing, a sense of hope and holding onto maturity, humbleness and honesty, something that I don’t think I saw as much in, in her first few albums. And this is why I myself appreciate the newer albums more so than the older ones. And maybe that’s ok. Someone else can love So Real and that is ok too. What I do know is this- Wild Hope led Mandy on a musical venture that dug deep within to deliver something from hereon end, to be music full of life, identity and purpose, something that most teen-pop artists never really delve into throughout their career. Mandy, sad to say, was an outlier in a good way.
The introspectiveness continued into her ‘self-titled’ album Amanda Leigh (Amanda is Mandy’s full given name, while Leigh is her middle name), and songs like ‘Song about Home’, ‘Nothing Everything’, ‘Pocket Philosopher’ and ‘Love to Love Me Back’ are just some of the songs that challenge us all in our way of thinking about life in general. ‘Song About Home’ speaks of a restlessness that we can feel when we think about this word called ‘home’ and how we all may have different definitions of it at different times in our lives- when we’re kids compared to when we grow up and have our own experiences, and realise that home can be far more difficult to define when we factor in all of our life experiences and circumstances; while ‘Nothing Everything’, Mandy’s interesting and unique attempt and a folk-country song, calls for honesty in the purest of forms- the song itself is the persona telling the other that they want the best for them, and they realise that they themselves don’t fit into the picture of it all. ‘Pocket Philosopher’ speaks to our very own innate need to control situations as this notion of wanting to ‘stop time’, or maybe even slow it down, so that you can know someone better, is firmly discussed in this track, as Mandy channels some early ‘Sara Bareilles’ bouncy-pop in this song, while ‘Love to Love Me Back’ continues along the country-esque vein and speaks of a topic we all know so well- wanting to be loved, and loving the fact that we are loved back in a situation that requires love to be a two-way street.
Silver Landings in Mandy’s latest album that dropped digitally not too long ago, but before I delve into her latest album, that I believe to be her most mature, I am reminded that Mandy is not only just a singer-songwriter, but an actress too, and between Amanda Leigh and Silver Landings, Mandy herself undertook quite possibly two of her most pivotal and life-changing roles in her movie/TV career thus far (aside from being in A Walk to Remember). Tangled, a Disney movie released in 2010 about the modernised story of Rapunzel, was brought to life on the big screen, with Mandy herself playing Rapunzel. While I myself haven’t seen the movie ever, I’ve heard only good things- there’s even a song that was specifically written and sung in the movie called ‘I See the Light’, a duet with Zachary Levi (who, from Chuck fame, plays the lead in the movie too). But it was in 2016, where life really changed for Mandy in terms of her acting career. Signing onto an NBC TV show called This is Us, no one really expected this TV show to last as long as it has right now. Now here we are in 2020, and this TV show about a husband and wife in the 1980s, and their daily struggles and triumphs as they raise their three children in a world where everything has been evolving and changing (all the while having three distinct stories and plot-lines about the three kids as well and how they also live in present day); is well into its 4th season, and has been renewed for two more, at least. A success story if ever there has been; Mandy’s life both personally and professionally has changed because of This is Us– her career acting-wise has never been more impactful and encouraging to many people around the world, a reminder that anyone can have a break into the industry, no matter the age. As Mandy herself relays, she has been grateful for acting in general, and specifically This is Us, but always has a continual love for music ‘…I’m incredibly lucky to be part of a show and experience like this is This Is Us. But there is a vulnerability in being able to express yourself as an artist with your music and your own words; you’re not necessarily hiding behind a character, per se. And that’s what I think that I’ve really longed for and missed from making music for the last decade: There’s a whole huge component to who I am that’s kind of been dormant. And now I feel like this fully realized version of myself, making music again…’ Mandy Moore is a public figure in her own right. Her presence in This is Us and the natural success of that particular TV show has made Silver Landings from her all the more intriguing, especially the fact that her previous album aside from Silver Landings was 11 years ago- enough time passing for any artist in any genre of music to be forgotten. Nevertheless, Mandy’s new album of just 10 songs is just enough for us to see what she’s been up to since her last offering of Amanda Leigh way back in 2009. Yes, she’s been in the Disney cartoon movie Tangled alongside the emotive and powerful NBC show This is Us, but prior to acting, she was in music and it is good to see someone go back to a love and a profession they were initially in, that they enjoyed whence they first started, even if it is a little bit of a break.
‘When I Wasn’t Watching’ is Mandy’s first radio single from Silver Landings; and released to digital outlets in September of last year. Upon hearing the song in its entirety in 2019, I hadn’t heard any, if at all, of Mandy’s previous material, and maybe that was a good thing. ‘When I Wasn’t Watching’ the song touches on the notion of how change over time can be unassuming and where you were before and where you are now can be polar opposites. You may think you want to be this and then in the end, you can shape and be moulded into a character you may not be pleased with. There is a quickness of how someone can change their character, their personality, just who they are behind the scenes, and it may not be their own doing. Nevertheless, such a song as this gives us comfort in knowing that changes, as inevitable as they are, are essential for growth and transformation, and in Mandy’s case, from music to acting then back to music can bring with it valuable life lessons. Often changes come when we are indeed not looking, when we’re pre-occupied with the urgent-but-not-important things of life. Changes can be better managed when we’re more in tune with said changes, and such a song as this can be a catalyst for us to sit up and become more aware of ourselves, maybe before its too late and we change into someone we don’t want to become…permanently. ‘I’d Rather Lose’, another standout of mine on the album, and dare I say, one of my favourite Mandy Moore songs of recent memory, is an anthem in its own right, and a song that everyone needs to take notice of as it speaks wonders about what’s going on with society at the moment. For it is in when I take notice and see around me, that I can understand that this world we live in, likes to play by rules that often at times, we didn’t sign up for in the first place. Competitions, be it singing, food, cooking, dating or otherwise, are looking more to drum up sales rather than to find the next big thing and nurture them before they travel out into the big wide world. Truth is often compromised in favour of things that are indeed sensational, while governments try to appease anyone and everyone, while at the end of the day, never do anything wholeheartedly at all. The rich get richer and the poor get poorer, and often, people lie, cheat and steal to climb the corporate ladder and get ahead in life, at the expense of everyone else. ‘I’d Rather Lose’ is a statement, that it is ok to lose. To not play the ‘game’ that everyone is playing and to hold onto the values we know in our hearts that are dear to us. For to lose doesn’t mean to give up fighting the good fight, but rather, it is showing moral character and a sense of self-worth and sticking by personal values that we hold dear and know to be true, rather than surrendering to the corporate structure and compromising to appease different groups and attain and amass things we don’t really need. Relationships with family and friends’ matter, and ‘I’d Rather Lose’ makes us think what is really important in our lives- the human connection, or money, power and fame, that often crumbles in an instant anyway?
Mandy continues to impart to us moments of understanding and reflection, and other moments of deep introspection and realisations, as Silver Landings becomes more of an album that I’m very certain God can and will use to show us more about Himself and ourselves in the process of us listening and deconstructing our own understanding and belief of what we think motivational and inspirational music to be. ‘Save A Little For Yourself’ relays a theme that we all need to consider- save a little for ourselves. Whatever it is- energy needs to be placed into ourselves in the form of physical energy (food), sleep, relaxing and levelling out (it can be either called prayer, meditation, reflecting, whatever the case may be), before we are at a place where we can help others; while ‘Fifteen’ is an ode to her younger self as Mandy reflects upon her teenage years in music, years that may have robbed her of her childhood that she can never get back. Never once is the song bitter about the decisions that were made (either herself or others making it for her) about her early career, just acknowledging that these things happened and that these circumstances shape who she is today; as we as listeners are shown that often, starting young in a music industry can often do more harm than good. ‘Trying My Best Los Angeles’ harkens back to when Mandy herself moved to Los Angeles as a result of her career in music; and trying to make something work in a city that is very large and often unforgiving. The song itself speaks of trying to make sense of why, when you do all the right things, it doesn’t add up to what you want. The song is also a reminder to stick at your dreams, and to remember that a dream was borne inside of you a long time ago, and maybe, delays and setbacks are just an avenue or opportunity to grow more empathically as well as being susceptible to change and flexibility rather than expecting things to always work out in a certain time frame.
Mandy’s has had a whirlwind of a career in music thus far. From starting music at a very young age, to having an 11 year break from 2009 to 2020, and then releasing an album that I reckon is by far one of my favourites, of any artist, in 2020 thus far. You can still have a read of my review of Silver Landings here, but what I will say is this- Mandy Moore surprised me in a good way, especially from Wild Hope onward. While for me I haven’t seen Mandy in a lot of her movies, after this, I’m sure I’ll check out a few in the upcoming weeks and months ahead. Silver Landings, and Mandy’s music in a general sense, are mainstream in every sense of the word- but the implications and applications of her music to society is for everyone even lovers of CCM and worship music included (like myself). Sure there are no references to God or Jesus (besides, I don’t even know what religion Mandy is affiliated with), but that doesn’t matter for the music to be impactful. God can use even the most unassuming of music to bring people to a place of understanding the world and themselves and even God better. Songs like ‘I’d Rather Lose’, ‘Fifteen’, ‘Trying My Best Los Angeles’ and ‘Save a Little For Yourself’, from Silver Landings, and songs like ‘Extraordinary’, ‘In My Pocket’, ‘Cry’ and ‘Looking Forward to Looking Back’ of albums previous; are all tracks by Mandy that have impacted myself over the last few weeks; and others will find other songs that impact them too. Mandy’s music, especially her new album, won’t be as popular as others at the moment, and maybe herein lies the point. As I’ve said time and time again in my blog series, influence and popularity doesn’t need to marry together, nor does it should. Mandy is influential and not really that popular (in terms of music) and that’s ok. As long as Mandy continues to bring to us heartfelt songs that challenge our human condition and what it means to delve deep within ourselves and reconcile what we believe to be true about ourselves and the world, versus what really is true; then Mandy’s music has done what it has- to bring people out of their little boxes and experience a life and world-view different from their own.
I think most of all, I’ll take the brunt of responsibility and say that it really did boil down to a lot of self doubt. I think I found myself in an unhealthy personal situation and relationship, and that definitely didn’t help matters. I think finding myself in a situation personally with someone that I held in such high regard, and working on things musically in a creative fashion and none of that ever coming to fruition also further instills the sense of self doubt and negativity. I was writing songs [that] never got released; a lot of songs were written during what I thought was a very fruitful time. But I want to take the responsibility in being able to move forward and understand that I’m only in control of my side of the street. So I’m just interested in my role in why it took me so long to find my way back to music, and I’ve really made peace with that. And I’m also a big believer in things happening for a reason, and perhaps I wasn’t ready to make music until now, until I found myself in the right situation and I had the right creative partners. And this just feels like the perfect time in my life to be revisiting this.
Though the break for Mandy of 11 years in music was unprecedented, there seems to be a much more calmness and sense of peace within her music now more than ever. Mandy’s music now is vastly different to then, both stylistically and what she’s saying too- from teen-pop and about love, well, teenage love, to folk-singer/songwriter and about regrets, forgiveness, losing in the game of life and keeping your values. There is a maturity to her music, and I’m not sure if many teen-pop stars of the 1990s, have ever made the venture to record music now with a sense of humbleness than Mandy. Perhaps the long break gave her perspective on life, and now she’s better for it. But whatever the case, Mandy’s music now is a treasure to be mined, and a welcomed surprise that I’ve blogged about. I wrote Mandy into this top 100 influential list, not knowing if her place was even deserving or not- I just included her on a whim, knowing her involvement in A Walk to Remember. Now I can safely say that Mandy’s inclusion is very much deserved, for, any and all ‘reasons’ I delved into this blog about.
Does Mandy Moore make the list for you all when you write your own ‘Best Influential Artists of All Time’ list? Is there any song (aside from ‘When I Wasn’t Watching’, ‘Candy’ or ‘So Real’) that has impacted you on your journey through life thus far? Let us know in the comments. Till next time!