“God as my witness.”
“God’s the game you’re playing.”
“God, please make this last.”
“Ask God the question.”
So what do each of these lines all have in common? Well, they all contain the same word, and this same word happens to be “God.” These lines also happen to be popular song lyrics from music released in the 21st century. And, quite oddly enough – or maybe not oddly at all – these lyrics happen to be from two popular rock groups.
Apparently one need not step into a church nowadays to hear the power of the intangible Creator evoked; he or she simply needs to turn on the radio. I must admit, however, that I would not have pegged rock musicians as the religious type. Is this a rash stereotype on my part?
In a 2008 interview with BBC, former Paramore member Josh Farro said, “Our faith is very important to us. It’s obviously going to come out in our music because if someone believes in something, then their world view is going to come out in anything they do.” He makes an interesting point about wearing our passions on our sleeves. It sometimes seems that there is a taboo associated with God and the topic of religion, but alas, some, like Farro, are demolishing the taboo’s barriers.
The truth is that our country was founded on principles of liberty and free thought, and that is exactly what countless musical groups are practicing. Who is to say that God’s name can only be sung during Mass to a tune that was written hundreds of years before our birth? True, we may stumble and slip in our lives, but that is when this inspiring music proves most useful; it tells us that we are not alone.
Mayday Parade, a punk band from Florida, chooses to make countless references to God and prayer, most notably in a refrain that has the narrator actually talking to God and possibly realizing that he needs God to continue in this life. Likewise, Paramore’s “Playing God” takes religion in music to a new plateau. The lyrics place “God” as synonymous with “excellence,” and say when one tries to imitate flawlessness, the result is failure.
So why the popularity in music that is laced with religious undertones? One obvious explanation throughout the ages could be our standing as a nation, both then and now. Back in the ’50s, artists jammed to choruses of baby boomer generations and the Beatniks. The ’60s and ’70s were characterized by the violently protested Vietnam War. And today? Continuing economic crisis. Rising death toll of soldiers overseas. The BP oil spill. The facts are almost unnerving, and no one on earth seems to possess the answer to a very simple question: Why? But maybe, just maybe, there is a someone, somewhere, who does have the answers, and maybe it is comforting to put all our trust and hope out of this world and look towards the next.
All modern subdivisions of rock music have as their goals individualism and rebellion with a “this is me and I don’t care if you like me or not” mentality. It seems that this unique attitude has paved the way for a road of lyrics touched by God, prayer and religion in general. And Paramore and Mayday Parade do not stand alone; God-infused rock is also found within the lyrics of U2, Taking Back Sunday, the Foo Fighters and Fall Out Boy, just to name a few.
This concept of God in rock may come as a surprise to us, but really it should not at all. For one thing, the notion of turning to God in times of trouble is not a recent development. Likewise, we should also rely on rock musicians not to do what is popular, but what they prefer. After all, for most of us, when we look at an orange-haired, screaming girl and her punk musicians, their look does not explicitly declare, “Hi, I’m religious.” But, then again, what are we expecting, guitarists who wear habits and white collars?