Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Sensation

First, watch the video below...


Now, let's pretend that this situation played itself out in your church. Either you had asked somebody to sing a "special" or this person was actually a permanent part of your worship team, and they bombed a song like Kat DeLuna (yeah, I didn't know who she is either...for good reason, obviously) bombed this. What would you say to this person?

Here are three of my initial thoughts:

1. It's about the song, NOT about you. The national anthem is much like the songs we should be singing in church...it's about something much bigger than me. The song Kat sang is supposed to be about remembering freedom, sacrifice, soldiers, war, and all the things that make our country such an awesome place to live. If I sang "How Great Is Our God" with all of the vocal and physical animation that Kat used with her song, what would be the message I'd be communicating to God and to those who were singing with me?

2. Let me offer you some vocal lessons (and, yes, I've read Kat's bio and know that she supposedly received some very good training...). Seriously...when you expend so much energy and volume on your first note of a song like this, you've got nowhere to go but down, which is where Kat went (and fast). There's a reason the melody of "The Star-Spangled Banner" moves up an entire octave from beginning to end...

3. Understand who you are, where you are and why you're singing this song. A foreign-raised, 20 year old "pop sensation" (not my words) is not the best pick to be singing the national anthem of the US under the brightest lights at the stadium of "America's Team" (also, most definitely, not my words). I know this might sound small-minded of me, but let me explain.

Most foreigners (and too many of us who were born and raised here, as well) do not have a great understanding of and appreciation for our country's national anthem. The same can be said for most 20 year olds. And, most "pop sensations" are only singing for one thing...to make themselves appear more sensational.

When I was 20, I sang in a band that was managed by my university. I was given "All Along The Way" by Larnelle Harris to sing. Not only was it an outdated song by that point (2001), but I immediately recognized that I simply could not relate to this song (make sure you click the link and read the lyrics). I felt like a foreign, 20 year old pop sensation, being asked to sing a song that I knew nothing about. Although I tried to make the best of it, it was bad...so bad that, after the first few weeks, the song somehow disappeared from our set-list (which was totally cool with me).

When we sing songs at church, one of the things I am very conscious about is not asking our lead vocalists to sing songs that they can't personally relate to. I also only introduce songs that I know many (if not most) who attend our gatherings will be able to relate to. Singing a song that has no meaning to you is never a good thing...and, much like Kat, it can often be a really, really bad thing. Maybe Kat is a great vocalist, but if so, she needs to stick with songs that work for a foreign, 20 year old pop sensation.

What do you think? If Kat had been singing a churchy song in your church the way she sang the national anthem last night, what would you say to her?

Nate

14 comments:

TerryKM said...

Hey Nate, a good post and good points.

When I used to be a worship leader (and I wasn't a very talented one) I was frequently FORCED to allow special singers who would sing just like this girl and it was not good. . .it said a lot about what the congregation valued.

As a piece of trivia, didn't Francis Scott Key write the lyrics to our anthem which was later put to tune of an English drinking song written by John Stafford Smith.

MilePost13 said...

You are correct...I'll change my post to make myself appear more intelligent.

Kimberly said...

oh my goodness... this poor girl.. I wonder if she realized she had bombed?

as to your original question, I think I would have said nothing at all.... you know, my mother said, nothing nice to say... keep your trap shut!

Apple said...

Well, let's be honest, I probably wouldn't have had to say anything...she would have realized her error by the involuntary "bitter beer face" expression and seizure like twitching of my left eye.

Rick Lawrenson said...

I agree with your post. But let me pose a question.

The Star Spangled Banner is our nation's national anthem. It has history. It has tradition. Sung as written it has dignity.

How much "play" should artists have with it? I've heard it done many times, many styles, many ways. Assuming this singer had hit all the notes, I think she still would have been booed.

She went too far with "our song". She changed it too much. She didn't get it (so we speculate).

So, when the senior crowd hear's an old hymn morphed into a contemporary style, are they justified in having the same reaction as the crowd in Big D?

TerryKM said...

@ Rick. . .I've had someone get mad at me for singing The Wonderful Cross (Chris Tomlin's edition of The Wondrous Cross). I did it just like the old hymn, but with Chris Tomlin's chorus added.

It should be perfectly okay to change a song a long as it remains respectful to the original intent of the song. But some don't care about intent. . .they just want things to stay the same.

MilePost13 said...

Well, if you consider the fact that most people (of all race and age) hold Whitney Houston's (liberal) version in high regard...

I think most people are OK with taking liberties, as long as it's done well. My guess is, this girl may have been booed had she hit even hit the notes, but maybe has more to do with the fact that all we know of her is her self-claimed "pop star sensation" label (not to mention the other issues with her version)?

Whitney already had recognition (Grammy) when she sang her version (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qciWEufZ2xA).

If I'm a new worship leader in a new church, it's not a wise move to start changing well-loved songs from the get-go...I've got to build up some trust and acceptance first.

MilePost13 said...

maybe I should have said, "If I'm the new worship leader in an established church" instead...

Apple said...

@ Rick - Good question. Here's how my thought process played out after reading your comment...

The Star Spangled Banner is our National Anthem...the song that is sung at every major (and a lot of minor) event in our country. I daresay that we would not be commenting on this if she had sung Yankee Doodle Dandy or Grand Ole Flag in the same way.

The Christian community does not have an Anthem. Granted, if you look up the definition of anthem, then all of our hymns are just that "songs of praise." However, as far as I know, the Christian community does not have one specific hymn that identifies it and that is sung at every gathering. If "we" did, I can respect that "we" would not want that changed in any way.

The closest we probably have is the Doxology and nobody's changed that one...yet. I don't want to be around when they do! haha

(PS One of my all time favorite CDs is Jars of Clay's Redemtion Songs!!)

MilePost13 said...

hmmm...apparently apple wasn't around when NHC used to play my version of the Doxology...

Apple said...

Oh! And before anyone slaps me with an "As a matter of fact..." Let me say that no one has changed the Doxology THAT I AM AWARE OF.

And if it has been done, I'm still glad I wasn't there...though I'd probably like it more than the original. I generally do. haha

Apple said...

DANG, Nate! You beat me to it! I knew it would happen.

hahahaha

MilePost13 said...

you must be quicker.

seriously, though, this conversation goes to show that, really, nothing is as sacred as we think it is. We all have our opinions about this stuff, and everyone has their limitations.

not that I don't mind the current discussion, but the purpose of this post was to discuss ways that church leadership would address a similar issue, which nobody has really commented on yet... (hint, hint)

Rick Lawrenson said...

If something that self-absorbed and that bad was being sung at NHC I'd be on the platform giving the sound tech the cut it off sign and apologizing to the congregation.

The singer would then be required to take "Discovering Worship" and maybe one day would be allowed to sing again. Maybe.