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Whether intentional or not, the longing displayed on many Top 40 songs resembles how Christians once longed for the love of Jesus Christ.
I made this correlation while listening to “The Invisible Way,” the newest album from indie slowcore band Low. While all of its songs are generally timid and reserved, one song in particular, “Just Make It Stop,” implies an unrelenting struggle weighing the singer down: “If I could just make it stop/I could tell the whole world/to get out of the way/If I could just make it stop.”
This is not a small chronic problem that one may put in the periphery; this immutable burden, whatever it may be, needs an intervention, especially through divine deliverance.
Many love songs fall into this distinction as well. Some, like Rihanna’s “We Found Love,” discuss finding comfort at the end of a wretched experience: “We found love in a hopeless place,” while others like “Lovesong” by The Cure, are revelations of having a completed being when joined together with someone else: “Whenever I’m alone with you/You make me feel like I am home again/Whenever I’m alone with you/You make me feel like I am whole again.”
While these artists certainly produce within a secular context — not all are as bold as Kendrick Lamar, the L.A. rapper who had a salvific prayer at the beginning of his acclaimed album, “good kid, m.A.A.d city” — their words and sentiment, of longing for a permanent change in their lives or for unconditional love, reflect how believers once desired the same before they received Christ.
As St. Augustine once said about God’s composition of man, “You excite man that he will delight in You, and restless is our heart until it can rest in You.” As humanity was created in God’s image and is redeemed through His Son, trace inklings of that belief still exist even in those who fail to recognize.