Hi neighbour. Well, OK you’re not exactly a neighbour. You live on The Shore and I live out East. But we both live in Auckland and now you’re a big name in the country where I was born.
Let me say up front… I’m old enough to be your father, if I listen to “pop” music at all it is generally “pop” music from the 80’s, and more often you will find me listening to classical or jazz. That being said, I have listened to your album Pure Heroine. Actually, I’ve listened to it several times. I’ve also read a few “lyrics” sites trying to get an accurate picture of the content of your songs.
From what I can tell critics, fans, and just about everyone (except Miley Cyrus, I guess) are very excited about this album and particularly your first two singles, Royals & Tennis Court. People seem to be gushing over everything from your voice, your age, being from New Zealand, all that hair, the rhythms, the lyrics, and more!
I will admit the rhythms in your songs are captivating. Certainly a breath of fresh air compared to most of the other noise that is played over the airwaves today claiming to be music.
However, I was more interested in your lyrics. And your future.
I was drawn to listen as I wondered, “what does a kid from The North Shore sing about?” I see many are saying you “capture what it is like to be young.” I suppose that is true to some extent.
Here are some of my thoughts as I’ve listened to and read your lyrics.
Firstly, profanity. I remember when it was hugely controversial when rap artists would use profanity in their songs and even then the “F” word was rare. As I listened to Tennis Court, which is being played over the sound systems of shops everywhere and heard that word, I thought “I guess it is just commonplace today for a 16 year old girl to use profanity publicly, no one even thinks twice about it.”
Secondly, rebellion. Of course, rebellion almost defines being young. Yet, it is difficult at times to tell what you are rebelling against. Are you rebelling against the sensational lifestyles of pop stars? Are you rebelling against the restrictive expectations of older adults? Are you rebelling against all that is going wrong in the world?
Thirdly, drinking. In at least two of your tracks you make direct reference to drinking and it seems to be clear that you’re not referring to ginger beer. In A World Alone and 400 Lux your lyrics clearly glamorize drinking. In 400 Lux is seems like the drinking is occurring in a car to make matters even worse. In a country that already has a serious teen drinking problem this is very disappointing.
Fourthly, despair. This is the most significant to me. In Buzzcut Season you sound like a girl who is unable to find meaning in life, so you just live by the pool and try to ignore reality. In Still Sane you sound like a young lady who is trying to convince yourself that you won’t become the next teen pop star whose life will end in a complete mess, yet you don’t seem to believe your own rhetoric. In White Teeth Teens you sound like a teen who hasn’t fit in with a particular crowd at school and you are desperately trying to convince yourself that it’s OK not to.
Here’s something to think about, Ella. You’ve shared your thoughts with the world in the form of music and you are going to make a lot of money as a result. Yet, you will still have your thoughts. When the applause stops and the cheers fade away for that day and you put your head on your pillow at night you will still have your thoughts.
Is there meaning in life? Is there a way to make sense of all that is happening in the world? Why doesn’t sex, drinking, partying, fame, money, etc. provide lasting relief from all that seems so messed up in your world?
Let me suggest something to you. There is meaning in life and there is a way to make since of everything and there is a reason why nothing in this world really satisfies.
You see, Ella, you were created by God (the God of the Bible), in His image, and for His glory.
He has made you so that you will never be satisfied until you are satisfied in Him. Yet, you have been determined to live your life without Him, to find satisfaction in all the things He has given but without acknowledging Him. You have sinned against your Creator, the One who is truly Royal, Who rules the Universe from His throne, and promises no crown to those who will not bow their knee to Him.
Yet, at the same time, this same God sent His Son, Jesus Christ into this world. He left His throne, set aside His crown so to speak, put of His royalty, to die on the cross in the place of sinners. More than that, He didn’t stay dead, He rose again in three days conquering sin and death so that all those who confess their sins and trust in Him can have eternal life and find true, lasting satisfaction.
Ella, I doubt you will ever see this letter, yet maybe you will. I am sure some teen and pre-teen girls who love your music will.
For whoever is reading this. Please consider the wonderful news that Jesus died so that your sins can be forgiven and you can find real joy, not only for this life, but for all eternity.
Ella – if you’re ever in the neighbourhood feel free to drop in for a cup of tea (my address is in the book, I don’t have “postcode envy” either) or pop into a service at the church where I serve as a pastor – Howick Baptist Church (now [since 2014] Rolleston Baptist Church).
More importantly, get a Bible (there might be one in a drawer in one of the hotel rooms where you are staying), find the Gospel of Mark and start reading about Jesus, then find a Christian who you can talk to about your thoughts.