I’ve noticed a few things as I’ve lived my life thus far, and while I am no expert on things that I know that I don’t know about, I do know a few things as I’ve lived here on this earth for 31 years (and counting!). Something that has stuck out for me recently; is this understanding and notion that it’s ok to love and enjoy music that isn’t necessarily the ‘original genre’ of music that you maybe have gravitated towards throughout all your life, up until now. What I mean to say is this- that even if you enjoyed rock music growing up; it is perfectly ok to enjoy country music later on during your life. Or if you were heavily invested into pop from when you were born, it shouldn’t really be a problem if you start to have an interest in folk, or screamo, or opera later on during your life. Or…howabout a real kicker- that it’s ok to love and enjoy mainstream music, even if all your life, you were listening to CCM. Or even let’s take this one step further now that we are being very candid with each other- that it’s more than ok if you believe that God Himself is speaking through mainstream music, that He’s not just speaking through ‘CCM and that’s it’.
Continue reading Momentous Mondays: Influential artists of the next 5-10 years – Week 48: First To Eleven + Concrete Castles
Apart from death and taxes, I reckon there’s at least one other thing that is true in the world, no matter what. And it is that Taylor Swift is one of the most prolific, though-provoking, skilful, confronting, and inspiring songwriters of the modern music era. Her vocals as an artist are great too, compelling, stirring and quite heavenly really; but I believe that it is Taylor’s nuanced, level-headed, honest, personal, emotional, and empathetic narrative storytelling… that really cements her place in this list of influential artists of all time. It is the song-writing in my opinion that also lands her as one of the most relatable people in the world at the moment. There seriously isn’t anything to dislike about Taylor Swift (name me one thing- with evidence! I’ll keep waiting!), and her songs throughout her discography has received widespread listener, critical and commercial acclaim. Taylor has broken a lot of Guinness World Records for her music, and she is one of the best-selling artists of today. With Taylor being prominent throughout her career in the genres of country, pop and folk; it is her down-to-earth nature, her humbleness and her kindness that seems to win fans over. And as for me and my listening experience to Taylor’s discography over the past couple of weeks; can I say that I am now a bona-fide fan of hers? Of her song writing and of her singing? Taylor has accomplished a lot in her 15 years in the spotlight, and she has grown up immensely. Granted, she’s grown up primarily in the spotlight and in the public eye, however I reckon that the way that she has handled criticism and haters has been full of professionalism, poise, and grace. The way she tackled the masters’ controversy in 2019 was quite mature, firm, and assertive, and made me respect her all the more. But for me my love for Taylor’s music and her storytelling, is embedded in her songs and how deep she dives. Every Taylor Swift song means something to someone- and that is what I reckon is so profound, special and beautiful about everything that Taylor releases.
Continue reading MOMENTOUS MONDAYS: INFLUENTIAL ARTISTS OF ALL TIME – WEEK 97: TAYLOR SWIFT
Success. Influence. Popularity. And to some extent happiness. Is it possible that these 4 aspects of life are more intertwined more than we think? Throughout the past 95 blogs, both Jon and myself have written about popular artists, about not-so-popular artists, about rather obscure artists (by society’s standards), as well as about artists who are no-brainers. All of these artists are who we firmly believe to be influential. But more than that- the most influential artists of all time. It’s a bold statement to declare, and I reckon that artists like Jennifer Lopez, Beyoncé, Christina Aguilera, Keith Urban, Backstreet Boys, Ed Sheeran, U2, Adele, John Farnham, Josh Groban and Carly Rae Jepsen to name a few- would be instantly included for any subjective list, on what I believe is a dynamic and ever-evolving list anyway, and is right now only a snapshot in time. While I reckon that maybe on any other day and on any other list written by any other person, artists like Richard Marx, Hanson, Leona Lewis, Jackie Evancho, Cimorelli, Five For Fighting, Colbie Caillat, The McClymonts, Hoobastank and SEAL would not make the list at all. And for me to include the shoe-ins and the obscure artists on one list… it might be head-scratching for some. And that’s ok. Because we all have different preferences, likes and dislikes- everyone’s list of influential artists is going to be different. This list is not gospel. I’ve said it once and I will say it again until I think we understand that it’s ok to have different opinions on music. It’s perfectly fine. Differences make life interesting and underpin our humanity, don’t you reckon? But coming into the final 5 blogs about influential artists- I don’t think that any of us would argue anything with these representatives. Think about it. Rihanna. Taylor Swift. Kylie Minogue. Robbie Williams. And this week’s artist- Mariah Carey. There really shouldn’t be any doubt about the calibre, impact and prowess of any of these artists- and if you all have apprehensions to any of these artists- maybe a deep immersion into these artists’ discographies will tug at your soul and at your emotions; and quite possibly change your mind.
Continue reading MOMENTOUS MONDAYS: INFLUENTIAL ARTISTS OF ALL TIME – WEEK 96: MARIAH CAREY
Some would say that me and my brother had one of the weirdest childhoods ever. Others could say that our parents were warranted for having a lot of input into what movies, TV shows and music we as children, saw when we were younger. Because if you don’t really know by now- yes, because we were premature (amongst other things), Josh and I were sheltered quite a bit when we were younger. Whatever money that was made by my parents during the first few years of my life, went to health bills and hospital amenities, things that were needed to be funded during a time in the early 1990s where interest rates were high- I think they were at one point, up to 17.5% in 1990. Money was spent on food and other necessities, and consequently, we didn’t have much outside of that. Sure, we had a wonderful childhood growing up, but let’s just say that we were content with what we did have, rather than always wishing and wondering what other people did acquire when they were young. Because if I were to look back on my own childhood and reflect as a man in my early 30s, I’d have to say this- that the 1990s was a time of great expansion technologically, but our family was never really the type to always catch on to the latest craze or fashion, just because the next person was. We’d probably eventually would end up acquiring whatever it was, technologically (we bought a DVD player in 2002 when DVDs were around in circulation from 1999 onwards, Nintendo 64’s in our household was an occurrence from 1998 onwards, even though it’s popularity peaked in Australia from 1997), but in all honesty, our family wasn’t really that big on getting anything new- only if it was absolutely necessary. Which means one big thing- our family didn’t have FOXTEL when we were younger.
Continue reading Momentous Mondays: Influential artists of the next 5-10 years – Week 47: Sofia Carson
Not too long ago, the Dove Award nominations released. For those of you familiar with Christian music, and for those who have read our site since the inception back in 2014; I’m sure you’ll all believe me when I say that throughout the past few years, both myself and my brother Jon have always eagerly anticipated the Dove Award nominations every year. We’ve even written predictions for these awards on this site here, here and here (2017, 2018 and 2019); as well as our analysis of winners and nominations here and here (both 2014). But for those of you who are unfamiliar with the Dove Awards though, let’s just say that it’s like the Christian version of the Grammy Awards. It’s probably the most prestigious award show in the history of CCM music. And being that Jon and myself basically grew up solely on Christian music, the time of the year when nominations of the Dove Awards roll around is always nostalgic and sentimental to us. Even though of late, we have mostly read the nominations and shrugged our shoulders and rolled our eyes and written our own fantasy ‘fake’ lists. And it’s just because over the past few years The Dove Awards’ nominations have been somewhat spot on but somewhat off the mark at the same time. Yet… guess what? We always come back to these lists, and we always are eager to see the same things over and over and over again. And I reckon it’s what most of us (lovers of mainstream music as well!) do anyways, in a broader sense. We see these award shows nominate the same people year after year after year; and we’re still a sucker to watch them. And the Dove Awards nominations this year actually was a catalyst for me to ask the question… of why is that so? Why do we watch awards shows even when we know what’s going to happen? I’ve been thinking about how ingrained we all are in our likes and dislikes, even though we sometimes are indifferent to them as well. And it seems to me that with award shows with the biggest celebrities, we latch onto these events and spectacles like church services, and we hang onto the words of our biggest idols like they’re God. We elevate our role models like they’re perfect, and even if we know that award shows are like a popularity contest and that the nominations may not reflect in totality if these actors or musicians or artists actually have any talent or even have anything worthwhile to say; we’ve fallen into the trap that they’re still the best thing the world has to offer. And it’s because… I don’t know, actually. We love living vicariously and vivaciously through people, and it’s easier to be persuaded and encouraged to love someone who is popular and has nothing much to say than to be really invested in someone influential with something to say. If you think about most of these 100 artists we’ve written about in this blog series, from artists like Keith Urban, Pentatonix, Skillet, Jason Gray and Carly Rae Jepsen, to John Mayer, Carrie Underwood, Owl City, Train and Hanson… is it likely or probable that the majority of them would be present as a nominee, presenter or performer at a major awards show like the Grammys or The American Music Awards or The Billboard Music Awards or The MTV Video Music Awards? Yes? No? Yeah, I reckon it’s probably not. And that’s not a reflection on the talent and prowess of the artists in question I’ve blogged about… it’s just the way the music industry is these days. Popular artists sell and influential artists do not.
Continue reading MOMENTOUS MONDAYS: INFLUENTIAL ARTISTS OF ALL TIME – WEEK 95: BEYONCÉ
I think I’ve mentioned this time and time again (or maybe my brother Jon has); but let me repeat myself once again for us all. When we look down our list of 100 artists who we deem to be influential across all time (not including artists like The Beatles, Queen, Elton John, Elvis Presley, ABBA, Celine Dion, Stevie Wonder, Johnny Cash and Bob Dylan to name a new- and all of these plus more will be in a separate list of 50 artists who are iconic and timeless no matter what!); while the pattern seems to be that these artists are mostly active at the moment (aside from Carman who sadly passed away earlier this year!), the underlying theme that I’ve found out recently is that all of these 100 artists, though influential and inspiring in their own right, probably have virtually no links to each other. Delirious? is a different artist to Backstreet Boys who in turn is different to Delta Goodrem, The Goo Goo Dolls, Alicia Keys, John Mayer, SEAL, Cimorelli, Jennifer Lopez, Coldplay, Linkin Park, Tenth Avenue North and Skillet. All of these artists (and more) are unique and each of these 100 artists deserve their place within this subjective list… when each artist is analysed on their own merits. Yet wholistically, perhaps some of you may complain that these artists make the list over another arbitrary 100. You may complain and say that I’m not doing my job right or I’m deliberately against a certain artist or artist group (like rap, which has no representatives outside of Lecrae), or that I’m pushing a certain agenda, or that I’m like the left or the right or that I’m too woke or too conservative in including a lot of music artists that lean one way or the other on the political spectrum, or that I don’t have enough Christian artists or that I have too many Christian artists. Regardless on how you view my list- the fact is that it’s just that. It’s a list made up by an average joe. And it certainly holds no weight when compared to other more prestigious lists like Billboard or The Rolling Stone. Jon and myself are just owners of a website that maybe a handful of people in the world actually take the time out to read… and who are we to claim that we have authority over any list we make. Any of you could write up your own list of 100 names- include 100 names that we never did… and guess what? It’ll still be valid. Whatever criteria you use for your lists (and if you want to see our heart for this blog series, read our very first post we made in February 2019 explaining our thought processes!)… well that’s your criteria.
Continue reading MOMENTOUS MONDAYS: INFLUENTIAL ARTISTS OF ALL TIME – WEEK 94: JUSTIN BIEBER
There’s always been a bit of a divide when it comes to CCM v mainstream, at least in the areas where I was growing up. Being from Australia (a country that is a lot less God-conscious than other places around the world), it’s often considered weird and different if you listen to nothing but CCM your whole life. Mind you, my brother and I did attend an Anglican primary school, so I guess early on in our own lives, we weren’t as ‘isolated’ as we initially thought we were. We then attended a ‘secular’ high school, which was fine, because my brother and I were able to see how the general population was like. Maybe it was because we were in our own CCM bubble for so long- and because we were both premature as twins; we were in our own proverbial bubble at home as well, a bubble that restricted our very own interaction with people generally, because of our family’s concerns- valid ones when you raise a family where twins are premature. You start to take extra care of them and wrap them in metaphorical bubble wrap so as to protect them from the ‘big bad world’. Maybe that’s an exaggeration as to how my brother and I grew up, but when it came down to it, we were indeed sheltered, much more than the average joe. And so high school was a pretty big deal for us- we weren’t in the bubble of ‘Christian’ anymore- because our primary school was of the Anglican variety, people didn’t really bat an eyelid when we said we only listened to Christian music (Carman and Delirious?, and some Steven Curtis Chapman, Steve Grace and Tim Hughes, to be precise).
Continue reading Momentous Mondays: Influential artists of the next 5-10 years – Week 46: Amy Shark
Contrary to underlying and assumed popular belief that the U.S. charts comprise of the holy grail of artists, and that they comprise of the be-all-and-end-all of every artist that is undoubtedly the most inspiring and the best; there has been, and probably will forever be, something much more poignant, moving, powerful, compelling and encouraging if you will, about music that is produced, written and recorded outside of the U.S.A., in my humble opinion. I’ve already mentioned in a previous blog post (or maybe in the introduction post in this series) about how we aren’t as caught up as most people on the state of ‘pop’ music these days; and since that time we’ve found out that a number of artists on the top 100 charts whom we do not listen to, and haven’t blogged about- are American. Artists like Miley Cyrus, Katy Perry, Ariana Grande, BTS, The Weeknd, Justin Bieber, Post Malone, Drake, Billie Eilish, Harry Styles, Megan Thee Stallion, Maroon 5, Lil Nas X, SZA, Luke Bryan, Dan + Shay, Jason Aldean, Kane Brown, Khalid, Imagine Dragons, Eminem, Cardi B, Chris Brown, Twenty One Pilots, Kendrick Lamar, Jonas Brothers, Eric Church and Panic At The Disco; have all dominated the charts over the past year or so, and apart from BTS who is from South Korea, they’re all from America, or American adjacent countries. None of these artists are artists who we have blogged about, or are going to be blogging about (except for Justin Bieber, who was recently a late addition to this blog list!); and so when looking at who is cool and hip at the moment… does this mean that we’re out of touch with American pop, and even if we are, does it matter in the grand scheme of things?
Continue reading MOMENTOUS MONDAYS: INFLUENTIAL ARTISTS OF ALL TIME – WEEK 93: THE CRANBERRIES
Life is fragile. One minute it’s there and the next, it’s not. You could be healthy one day and dead the next, and the day before, you’d be none the wiser. Gee, that sounds morbid, doesn’t it? That sounds like a super way to start a blog post, don’t you think? But bear with me, everyone; there’s a point to this introspection and this depressive start. You see, if death can come knocking at a moment’s notice, and you can’t really prepare for it…then what is the point of striving so hard, to acquire money and possessions and the like, if you’re not going to take it beyond the grave? Death is so certain, and it’s something that affects all of us; and the fact that it’s not just the old and sick that die, is pretty scary and overwhelming. As cases of COVID-19 keep rising around NSW and in Australia and also around the world, and as people keep on dying, I often of late have thought about the lives cut short by the pandemic, especially people who are young. I wonder about their hopes and dreams and how they can’t ever accomplish everything that they would want to- because they’re dead. Dreams cut short and potential not realised- because you’re dead. I know that if you’re dying not because of old age, but because of any other means; then that is an incredibly sad way to go. And though I’m being reminded about death a lot, I know it’s not something that you can change. You can’t cheat death, no matter how you try. When it’s your time, then there’s no two ways around it. Death is something that we all, like it or not, eventually will have to accept. Death happens to ALL of us. Not some. Not just the old or the babies who are unfortunately aborted. But to all of us. And though I’ve seen death and been to funerals before (for my uncle and also for a friend from church), the thought that death can happen tomorrow…actually sunk in for me about a week ago.
Continue reading MOMENTOUS MONDAYS: INFLUENTIAL ARTISTS OF ALL TIME – WEEK 92: LINKIN PARK
The other day NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian extended the lockdowns across NSW for yet another 2 weeks. With little change happening over the past few weeks of lockdown that NSW has had so far, freedoms are once again limited to exercising around the block and only one person going out to the shops for groceries. It remains to be seen whether the two-week extension of the lockdown will have any effect at all on case numbers and whether COVID-19 infections will decrease or not; but the fact of the matter is that we all are frustrated. Tired of staying at home, wanting more human interaction, and mingling with friends and co-workers. We long to go over to people’s houses for a barbecue and a cold beer, and we long to go to the movies or to a concert. In short, we as a nation and as people globally, long to get back to a life that is semi-normal, before COVID. Because at home, we don’t seem to be productive, and at times we think that we’re not doing anything. Yes, we’re listening to music, we’re zooming, we’re binging on all of our streaming shows, we’re sleeping in… but as we look abroad to other countries who have opened up the country a whole lot more than us Australians have (and it’s largely due to a supply issue of vaccines, which are more readily available overseas, plus people from other countries are generally more willing to receive vaccinations!); I reckon we’ve all become slightly envious. Envious and jealous of how many countries around the world have sprung back to normalcy (to an extent). Envious of how people are living overseas with apparent freedom. And though we know that there are still rampant COVID-19 deaths happening overseas… we choose to overlook them, in favour of our biases and preconceptions that other countries have it better than us because they have less restrictions. Are we envious and jealous though… unnecessarily? I mean, someday Australia will have opened up to the world, and for now we just gotta be patient and stay the course until more vaccines come, am I right?
Continue reading MOMENTOUS MONDAYS: INFLUENTIAL ARTISTS OF ALL TIME – WEEK 91: NSYNC & JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE