Release Date: June 25th 2021
Reviewed by: Jonathan Andre
Release Date: June 25th 2021
Reviewed by: Jonathan Andre
Once upon a time there was a tiny community in the Swiss Alps. This community was in serious trouble. The well that supplied water to the village went dry. The people began to panic. A river was near the community but it was located at the bottom of a deep, deep gorge. Hence no one could reach the water. And it was the middle of summer, so the snow on the mountain had long since melted. There was, however, another well flowing with water across the gorge on the adjacent mountainside. An imaginative young thinker came up with a solution. He built a bridge across the gorge. The villagers were elated. A bucket brigade was formed immediately and the water supply was replenished. Needless to say, the bridge became very important to this group. It was their source of life. They honoured the bridge. They named the bridge after the builder and painted it a beautiful gold. Tinsel was strung from the bridge. Miniature bridges were built and sold in the streets. People wore them on their necks and hung them in the windows. A committee was formed to pay homage to bridge. Only certain people were allowed to walk upon it, and then only on certain days, and then only when wearing certain clothes. The bridge keeper became the most respected and revered position on the mountain. No one could see or cross the bridge without his permission. Unfortunately there were some disputes within the committee. The disagreement centred on whether a canopy should be built over the bridge. So the bridge was closed until a decision could be made. Many villagers died of thirst while the leaders debated.
It’s easy to think that in the above paragraph, what went wrong was that the decisions weren’t made quick enough, or that the committee should’ve been changed earlier, or even the bridge should’ve not been painted…but maybe, just maybe, the real reason why the bridge debacle happened in the first place was that people were putting emphasis, maybe even a resemblance of worship, upon the bridge itself, rather than acknowledge that the bridge was just a means to an end- just a way to receive the water the village desperately wanted? Everyone wanted the spotlight, and everyone wanted to matter, the leaders the most, so rules were made- you can’t walk on the bridge on Sundays and Thursdays because that’s when the founder of the bridge has his quiet time on it, you can’t wear blue or red on the bridge because the bridge founder hates those two colours, bridge visits are to be supervised at all times because…well, who knows what could happen when people walk on the bridge not supervised by the one who created and thought about the bridge in the first place. When we look at it, these rules seem farfetched, and the story itself seems farfetched, but deep down, we all know we can act that way in life. Especially towards our fellow Christian brothers and sisters.
As like how the bridge was respected and worshipped, to the point where there were disputes and arguments about who was to walk on the bridge and what the bridge would look like (and thus people died of thirst while the dispute happened); we as Christians may place more of an emphasis on the process of being a Christian than really be a Christian. What does it mean to be a Christian? Should I have a cross around my neck? Should I try to discuss about God, Jesus and the questions about eternity in every conversation I have with strangers and friends alike? Or should I try to always give words of encouragement to our friends, in the name of love, even if we know they are not in the mood for such a word? Should I have a bumper sticker on my car, or quote bible verses to you when you’re feeling down? What does it really, really mean for us to show God’s love to those around us? Is it to do all these things that I’ve aforementioned, or is it just simply to love without reservation, and be present in the situation? We don’t have to say or do much for them to know God’s love. In fact, sometimes saying a bible verse here and there, or even discussing about Jesus at every moment we have, may often deter people away from wanting to know more about Christ. Because at the end of it all, we will we placing more emphasis on the ‘rules’, rather than the grace that comes from just letting all our preconceived ideas of what a Christian should be, behave and undertake, down before Christ, and allowing Him to shed light on how He wants us to act when we’re in the presence of people who don’t believe in Christ.
What do you reckon is our most basic want? If you strip everything away, the house, the fancy car and our hopes and dreams; what do you reckon is left at the end of it all? Disregarding each of our personal views, morals, faith, beliefs and probably divided opinions about almost every topic under the sun; I believe that there’s something that bands us all, that unites us all together. There’s something insides each one of us that is a common thread if you want to call it anything like that. I believe it is that innate want (or is it need?) inside each of us, our longing to be loved. Yes, I’m growing philosophical and existential in my old age of 30- who knew?- but more on a serious note, what I believe connects us all is our individual desires to be loved and accepted, no matter our flaws and our screw-ups. Finding somebody that can and does love us for who we are is very rare, and while most pop artists sing about having a good time, I reckon there is no other artist more vulnerable and baring her soul and emotions nowadays- no other artist who is singing about love and the loss of love that is so beautiful, emotional and personal- than former Disney star and current pop superstar Selena Gomez.
‘…we’ve been very fortunate in that way [to be welcomed by both Christian and mainstream music]. There are a lot of bands that made that possible. Switchfoot was one of the bands that paved the way for that to happen. They fought some battles that we didn’t have to fight. We’re thankful for that for sure. It was really intentional, in terms of how we approached the early part of our career from a business standpoint. We got offered a lot of Christian contracts when we first came out and we turned those down because we wanted to make sure we set it up the right way and give ourselves a chance to be able to do everything we wanted to do. We made some mistakes along the way. I’d be lying if I said we did it all right. It hasn’t always gone according to plan, but at the same time, we’ve been really fortunate to do what we set out to do, which was make music for as many people as possible. We wanted kids who were like us to enjoy our music, but we also wanted their friends to like our music too. We wanted people that would never go to a Christian store or go to a church to listen to music to be able to get into our music. That’s what we set out to do. I think we’ve been able to keep that dream alive. God put that on our hearts and it’s been His plan, which has been amazing to be a part of…’
To say that I’m a very big avid fan of indie rock band Lifehouse is a very, very big overstatement. Let’s just say that for many, many of these artists I’ve placed here on my influential of all time list, I’ve barely listened to. And yes, apart from a song here and there from this guitar driven rock band (‘Hanging By A Moment’, ‘Broken’, ‘Everything’, ‘All In’, ‘Between the Raindrops’, to name a few), I haven’t really explored Lifehouse…until now of course. And we all know that this year-long project for me is as much as it is introducing to the world artists that I think have influenced and shaped music history, as it is very much an introduction for me into the realms of music that I may not have touched or even experienced, had it not have been for this project altogether. Nevertheless, Lifehouse as a band is very much like Switchfoot in a similar respect- they are indeed a band that deliver songs that probe at the human condition, asking questions that are deemed to be too personal, or even too taboo, to discuss in forums and public settings without music as the helm and delivery of transferring such ideas.
Guy Sebastian, Jessica Mauboy, Rebecca St. James, Johnny Farnham, The Rogue Traders, Natalie Bassingthwaithe, Stan Walker, Human Nature, Shannon Noll, Kasey Chambers, Samantha Jade, Dami Im, Jimmy Barnes, Olivia Newton-John, Missy Higgins, David Campbell. What do all these music artists have in common? Anyone…no one? They’re all Australian! Yes that’s right, all these artists do not originate from America, like I’m sure many people could think right, because all good music comes out of America…am I right? No really, on a serious note, music doesn’t have to come out of America for it to be good, and much of these aforementioned artists in the beginning of this paragraph have all had moderate to very high success in both Australian radio and the Australian market, as with exposure and influence overseas as well. Rebecca St. James, originally from Australia, moved to America with her family in the 1990s and became a superstar from her early teens onward. The family, the Smallbones, also produced a duo band years later- Rebecca’s younger brothers Joel and Luke a.k.a. for KING & COUNTRY (more on both Rebecca and her brothers in two separate Momentous Mondays posts at a later date). Johnny Farnham, Human Nature, Kasey Chambers and Jimmy Barnes are all legends in their own right, and more recently, artists like Dami Im and Stan Walker have captured the international stage after winning singing competitions X Factor and Australian Idol respectively. But for me, there’s one artist that has been influential, not necessarily as popular, compared to any one of these artists I’ve mentioned, but nevertheless, has worked hard at their music, touching listeners and impacting an entire generation over the last decade or so. Delta Goodrem, basically a household name now because of her music career as well as a judge on the Australian singing competition show, The Voice; is, I reckon, one of Australian music’s most impacting and dare I say it, decade-defining, if you look at the years of the 2000s.
If I were to speak honestly, I’d say that I was never really a fan of girl artists/female fronted bands that bore its prominence and upbringing during the 2000s. During that time in my life, I was heavily immersed into CCM, in particular, bands and artists like Carman and Delirious?. Not to say that there’s anything wrong with that, upon reflection, I thoroughly enjoy these two artists that I mentioned just then, and I would place them both, in a heartbeat, in my list of favourite artists/bands of all time, because of my early exposure to them and how they shaped my formative years as a teenager into who I am today as a person. Yet nevertheless, this is a post about influential artists, and though I firmly and unwaveringly believe that both Carman and Delirious? are influential in their own right throughout music history, I have found recently and discovered an artist that was indeed heavily impactful during the 2000s (and even now). Though I myself am late to the party in listening to them, I have been impressed with how they have managed stardom at such a very young age, and how they have carried themselves throughout the music industry process, from at the point of stardom till now. Drawing parallels, I reckon, to CCM/crossover artists like Plumb, and the early styles of Rachael Lampa and Stacie Orrico; Avril Lavigne began her fame journey at a tender young age of 17, and now 34, she has dominated the music market over the last 17 years or so. To say that she is an influential artist, not only to other new up and coming ones, but to listeners and those who are impacted by her music over the years, is very much an understatement.