I was doing a little research into pop culture (one of my favorite things about my job), and I discovered something. Have you ever heard of Katy Hudson? She was a little known Christian singer from a few years ago. Katy grew up the child of Keith and Mary Hudson, ministers who I might not have exact theological agreement with, but who nonetheless continue in their faithful service of helping people know the good news of the gospel.
Katy released the song below on her first album. I really like the tune, its got a jazz element and soft melodic vocals that remind me a bit of Norah Jones.
This song is not exactly a good representation of the musical stylings of the album (also named Katy Hudson), because the album is rather diverse and a good demonstration of her range of musical abilities.
Now if you know me, you know that I am ahuge fan of Christian singers that choose to not record on a Christian record label and either go independent or even mainstream. Some good examples of artists like this would be U2 and the Fray. The fray is one of my new favorites because I think their lyrics describe a depth of hurting and questioning in the world, yet a truly redemptive longing that I believe embodies the message of the gospel.
I have to say though, I cannot say the same for Katy Hudson, or as she is now known, Katy Perry.
Katy Perry. to her credit still writes most of her own songs and her musical talent is undeniable. With 4 (or is it 5?) number one hits from her last album, there is really no arguing that the girl can sing. I find myself in the car listening to her music sometimes and I have to say I enjoy her hooks, I love her style and her voice is still as fresh as it was on “When there’s nothing left.”
Her lyrics though, and frankly her character, deeply saddens me.
Her latest number one hit “Last Friday Night” is below. She said she wrote this song celebrating Friday night after waking up Saturday morning having experienced much of what she sings about. A word of caution, it is the censored version, but still could be offensive to some.
Katy said in an interview with Vanity Fair in May that she had a strict upbringing where she was not allowed to say “deviled eggs” or “dirt devil.” She says she has evolved from this into the person she is today. Let me just say that I am not necessarily an advocate of that sort of child raising (whether or not it is actually the case – you can never really believe everything you read).
But I am not writing to take jabs at Katy for her own life choices or her parents for “failing” as they have no doubt been made to feel by some.
I am writing because I know that a good percentage of the teenagers in my church like her music. I am writing because I know a good percentage of the adults in my church like her music, and I am writing because lyrics aside, frankly, I like her music.
As a church, as people being reshaped into the image of God, we need to know how to interact with this. We cannot simply scoff and cast Katy off as some sort of evil person. Katy is made in the image of God and her voice and her talent come from her creator. We also cannot just enjoy the music and not talk about what it means. More importantly, we need to understand how this tragedy can happen.
What’s the tragedy? The tragedy is that a girl raised hearing the gospel, even singing about the gospel, would go out and have a Friday night like the one described and wake up in the morning without shame, guilt or most importantly repentance. How she could wake up and celebrate what happened?
Jesus gives grace and mercy for every
imaginable unimaginable thing we might do. But in order to get that grace, we need to come to him and recognize that it’s him we need. Not to do it all again next week. There is only emptiness in these lyrics.
The emptiness of the song is believing that there is hope and joy and goodness in having this kind of night. To wake up in the morning and not remember who you are with or how they got there might sound fun to some, but it absolutely leads to emptiness, despair and hopelessness. This kind of tragedy happens to us when we start to believe that “Last Friday Night” is about anything other than a hopeless and empty life. True Peace, or Shalom, is the opposite of emptiness. This is what Jesus came to bring, Shalom.
It’s my hope that we remember this more than anything else if we enjoy Katy’s talent given to her by God, we continue to hope for her to find shalom in the faith she once sang about.