Confession: I didn’t watch the AMA’s earlier this week, but I’ve heard a lot about two performances. I’ve heard about Pink’s performance and Psy’s performance on Facebook and elsewhere, and when I checked CNN today I read LZ Granderson’s article about how underrated Pink is as an artist. In the article he points out that despite Pink’s artistic and impressive performance, Psy’s performance with MC Hammer is getting the most buzz. So I did what most people would do… I hopped on YouTube and watched both performances. As a youth pastor there’s something troubling going on here.
Pink’s song “Try” is all about how painful and difficult love can be, but how it’s worth getting burned. You gotta try. (The full lyrics can be found here) Love is difficult and painful, as Pink can personally attest to, but there’s something within us all that desperately craves it. We all need love, even if we get burned in the process.
Meanwhile, Psy’s song “Gangnam Style” is mostly in Korean and the only words that are in English (and therefore understandable to nearly all of us) are “oh Sexy Lady” and “style” (since “Gangnam” really isn’t an English word I’m not counting it). We have no idea what this song is really about apart from looking it up online, and all people sing along to are those two lines which are in English, repeated over and over again. But the song is definitely catchy and has a fun dance… and gets paired up with the ever-nostalgic MC Hammer… and bang, it outshines Pink’s meaningful performance (you try all that choreography while singing!).
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not encouraging people to uphold Pink as an artist who I would encourage students to listen to. But if you’re going to listen to Pink or Psy, and you’re going to listen discerningly then I’d encourage you to listen to Pink. Her life-story mirrors a lot of hurt and rejection that today’s teenagers can identify with and she writes with a rare and insightful vulnerability. When you listen to Pink, you see the bruised up heart of a generation who identifies with what she’s singing about. You might not like what she has to say (or what she’s wearing… or not wearing, depending on the video/performance), but she’s an artist who is always worth carefully listening to.
Before I link the two AMA Videos below, Let me simply ask a few questions for you to consider (and I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below):
- What do these two videos tell us about our culture’s desire for relationships and love?
- Is it too simplistic to reduce these videos as a longing for “love” vs. “sexy ladies?”
- Pink’s song/performance doesn’t make love look like it’s worth the fight. Why do you think she keeps saying we need to keep trying?
- Why does something so silly as “Gangnam Style” become such a widespread hit? If there wasn’t a dance, do you think it’d still be so big?
- Love remains difficult and painful in this world, but how does the transforming love of Christ Jesus make us able to give and receive love differently?