Dances with Horses: One Year After Gangnam Style, a Former Resident of Gangnam Reflects

by Sungyak John Kim One year ago "Gangnam Style" became the world’s most popular music video in history, hitting one billion views in a brief span of just four months. The video has been parodied and featured everywhere from a Filipino jail to the United Nations, and the horse dance became, as it were, the millennials’ moonwalk. PSY’s story and the song’s origins have been covered quite extensively, and understandably so. But over the last year we have failed to ask what the success of Gangnam S … [Read more...]

God and Country Music: 5 Christmas Country Songs That Aren’t Awful

As much as I love Country music—even the bad stuff—when Christmas comes around, Country music seems to spit out some really bad tracks (it’s not that I don’t think Alan Jackon’s Christmas album isn’t very good it’s just… okay, it’s exactly that). But I want you know that it doesn’t have to be this way! There is some wonderful Christmas music that has that high and lonesome sound—you’ve just got to look for it.Christmas albums are by nature somewhat stale. It takes real talent to make a beauti … [Read more...]

Hip Hop, Beauty, and the Eye of the Beholder

You should have seen me when I started studying Christian aesthetics. Beauty, I reasoned, flows from the nature of God Himself; it's an objective and unchanging truth. As a result, that old idiom, "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder," was total bunk. It was, I insisted, a postmodern ruse designed to undermine the very nature of God.I guess I figured that, if we were all really honest with ourselves, closed our eyes, and concentrated really hard, we might be able to identify once and for … [Read more...]

Page CXVI’s Christmas Album Helped Me Channel the Spirit of Advent

Just as I have for the last few years on Black Friday, as others flitted about catching deals (and still others Jesus-juked them online), I began my spiritual discipline for Advent: listening to Christmas music. It started one year when I noticed that Christmas came and went without much of a fuss in my life. Of course I knew it was important. I probably understood it better on a spiritual level than I ever had. Still, the real experience of the season—preparing my heart, slowing down, and dwe … [Read more...]

Living in a World of “Little Boys With Their Porno”

Earlier this year, Arcade Fire released their highly anticipated double album Reflektor to considerable fanfare. While much of the subsequent attention has been focused on songs like the title track, "Here Comes The Night Time," and "Afterlife" -- and understandably so -- there's one song on Reflektor that has stuck with me since my earliest listening sessions, but that seems to have flown under most critics' radars: the bluntly titled "Porno.""Porno" begins with slinky synths and disco-lite … [Read more...]

Does God Listen to Rap? An Interview with Curtis Allen

by Trillia Newbell Christian hip-hop appears to be at an all-time high. This influence is broad and wide and can be evidenced as we watch independent artists like LeCrae catapult the genre into the mainstream and organizations like Desiring God and Christianity Today continually feature hip hop artist. Most recently the genre was named as one of the top twelve reasons for the resurgence of the Calvinist movement. Although many Christians have embraced the genre, the stigma of its name “rap” and … [Read more...]

Why Are We Still Surprised When “Entertainment” Does More Than Entertain Us?

Bruce Springsteen is an icon of rock n' roll, a modern day troubadour who has spent the last four decades singing about the lives and struggles of the working class, the down and out, and the dispossessed. And now, thanks to Rutgers professor Azzan Yadin-Israel, he's the subject of a college course. More specifically, a college course titled "Bruce Springsteen's Theology" that, as the title implies, examines the spiritual and theological undercurrents in The Boss' music.In a recent … [Read more...]

Jason Isbell’s Decoration Day and Stories of Truth

A Jason Isbell song is not just a song; it’s a 3-5 minute novel. His 2013 album Southeastern is being regarded as one of the best (and my personal favorite) albums of the year—primarily because of its beautiful songwriting. Isbell’s whole career has been marked by exceptional storytelling, songs like “Danko/Manuel”, “Chicago Promenade”, and “Codeine” hit me in the same way as the powerful short stories of Flannery O’Connor, Elmore Leonard, or Harry Crews.Like O’Connor, Leonard, and Crews, Isb … [Read more...]

Lou Reed and the Iconography of Rock and Roll

In the flood of eulogies prompted by Lou Reed’s death last month, the words “rock icon” featured prominently. This modern usage of a very old word may seem like an anomaly for those more familiar with its older sense, but though it’s been watered down a good deal in its popular usage, calling a rock star an “icon” is remarkably apropos.Before it came into its current idiom, “icon” was a fairly archaic word that was mostly used of the religious pictures of the Eastern Orthodox Church and the t … [Read more...]

The Understated Power of Influence: Why Lou Reed is Such a Big Deal, Even If You’ve Never Heard of Him

During the time pop-art legend Andy Warhol was running around with the weird, obscure, protopunk outfit The Velvet Underground he told reporters that in the future everybody would have their own 15 minutes of fame. Who could have known how right Warhol was. We have fulfilled Andy Warhol’s prophecy. Not only do we assume our 15 minutes, we crave it. The Internet is our global soapbox, blogs unite and divide into homogenous tribes, and hero worship is streamlined by flawless digital self-branding o … [Read more...]