Tag archives: music

Taylor Swift and the Politicization of Pop Music

by Lauren Kaylor

July 10, 2019

In spring 2019, Taylor Swift announced that her newest album would “have political undertones,” and she was not kidding.

This June, she released the album’s second single and accompanying music video entitled “You Need to Calm Down.” The song is an unambiguous announcement of her support for the LGBT movement and a denouncement of anyone who isn’t fully on board with it. Lyrics like, “You would rather live in the Dark Ages,” and “Why are you mad when you could be GLAAD?” leave no middle ground. 

In the video, Swift parades around glamorously with celebrities and a multitude of individuals who identify as homosexual and transgender. A group of toothless, unwashed, scraggily-haired protesters also make a garish appearance, brandishing misspelled signs like “Get a brain, moran.” The video is crystal-clear social commentary with all the subtlety of a sledgehammer. But the video goes a step further than one would normally expect from a popstar. At the end of the video, text appears calling for direct political action: “Please sign my petition for Senate support of the Equality Act on Change.org.”

As FRC has made clear, the “Equality Act” would in reality create vast amounts of inequality in our society through its codification of “sexual orientation/gender identity” (SOGI) laws. Among other injustices, the Equality Act would require small business owners like bakers, florists, and photographers to celebrate same-sex weddings, allow men who identify as women to use women’s restrooms and locker rooms and compete in women’s sports, shut down faith-based adoption agencies because of their religious beliefs, and force all medical providers, regardless of their conscientious objections, to perform sex-change surgeries.

Swift’s “You Need to Calm Down” gives us a unique two-fold opportunity. First, you can respond to her petition by signing FRC’s own petition to halt the Equality Act. Second, you can use technology to respond with genuine love and reconciliation toward those who see any opposition to the LGBT agenda as “hateful.”

John 13:35 tells us that “They will know you by your love for one another.” Other verses that speak truth into this are 1 Corinthians 13 and Luke 6:27-36. Christians are called to love others completely, even those who disagree with or hate us. True love does not mean agreeing on everything or accepting all lifestyle choices, but it means willing the good of the other. Christians are called to love people who experience same-sex attraction and gender dysphoria. Loving does not equate to pandering to views that contradict our beliefs. We ought to will the good of one another because we love them—because we love Christ. For this reason, we want the LGBT movement to know of God’s love for them.

Christians are called to the ministry of reconciliation, which can only be manifested in the advent of love. 2 Corinthians 5:18-19 says: “All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting peoples’ sins against them. And He has committed to us the message of reconciliation.”

I propose that Christians embrace their role as Christ’s ambassadors and show others Christ inside of us. 2 Corinthians 5:20 tells us, “We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us.” When we accept our role as His ambassadors, the Holy Spirit will work through us and bust the false narrative of “hate.” Let us show so much of Christ’s love to those who disagree with us that Taylor Swift’s heart might be led to change. 

Lauren Kaylor is an intern for Life, Culture, and Women’s Advocacy at Family Research Council.

An Era Ends: Sheet Music Magazine Publishes Its Last Edition

by Chris Gacek

March 23, 2013

David R. Sands of the Washington Times recently published this article about our changing cultural landscape entitled “Sheet Music’s Last Note.” In it, he informs us that the last issue of America’s only magazine providing its readers with piano sheet music expired last autumn.  In thirty-six years years, Sheet Music Magazine had printed nearly 3,000 songs.  At its height, the magazine had 150,000 subscribers who received a copy every two months. 

What killed the Sheet Music?  Accordingly to the publisher, Ed Shanaphy, his magazine…

…couldn’t survive a perfect storm of factors gathering in recent years, from a bad economy, falling piano sales and the rise of online downloading services for sheet music to the decline of a generation that played piano for fun and the rise of a generation that gets into music through earbuds and prefers its musical scores auto-translated into audio online.

That is quite a combination of technological and social change. 

The article has some fascinating figures on piano sales in the United States.  In 1909, 360,000 pianos were sold in America with a population of 90.5 million.  In 1969 (see diagram), there were 220,000 sold (pop. 220 million).  Finally, in 2007, there 315 million people in the country, but sales totaled only 62,500. 

The 1909 figure is useful because it represents a time when there were no/few recorded music players, no radios, etc.  If you wanted to have musical entertainment, you had to do it yourself or pay someone to play it live.  More instructive is 1969 when we had high quality FM radio and very good stereo recordings for sale.  Since then, piano sales have really plunged.

What does it mean?  Are we watching a decline of cultural literacy.  Perhaps, it just represents a decline of the piano relative to other instruments, but I doubt it.

As a consumer of music, I know that what I listen to – just in terms of the sound quality – seems greatly inferior to my parents’ high fidelity stereo.  People used to spend a fortune on sound equipment.  That doesn’t seem to happen now.  There has been a huge shift to video technology with ever-better formats like blu-ray.  Does an audio analog (ha-ha, no irony intended) of blu-ray exist?  The world seems to be moving in the opposite direction.  MP3 files aren’t even as good as the much-criticized recordings on CDs.  Now I listen to classical music using the speakers on my Kindle.  Sound quality may not matter with rap, but it matters if you want to hear the percussion instruments in Carmen.  True that, but I just paid $1.99 for 13 hours of some composer whose music is play by the Latvian Symphony Orchestra and sits on my cloud.  I can listen any place that has wi-fi.  That enhances my cultural literacy.

I have no great theory, but David Sands’ article will make you think a bit.  How has your appreciation and interaction with quality music changed?  For better, worse?  Do you care?

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