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Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Three Irreverent Songs, From Worst to Best

Three examples of songs disrespectful of religion immediately come to mind.  The first, and worst, is Joan Osborne's "One of Us," which is a nearly atonal ditty wherein Ms. Osborne opines God might be a "slob" riding a bus, whose only communication is with the Pope.  Thus, "One of Us" is the Rock for Choice anthem of disbelief.  Second, Madonna's "Papa Don't Preach" begins with mock classical instrumentation that leads into a typical 80s pop song.  What is remarkable about the Madonna song to Estase is that the character in the song apparently intends to have her baby.  Given the star's personal life, it is surprising that the song doesn't point to an abortion.  And for all its debatable morality, the Madonna song has more going for it than the Joan Osborne one.  Third is my favorite, the Electric Light Orchestra song "King of the Universe," which is only slightly disrespectful to religion.  As a matter of fact, I have more religious feeling from "King of the Universe" than from such dreadful ecclesiastical offerings as "Gather Us In."  Lyrically, nothing is truly heretical about "King of the Universe," and only the song's grandiosity suggests it is a tongue-in-cheek song about the Almighty.  Appearing on the 1973 album On the Third Day, "King of the Universe" can be seen in its context of songs about death as a reflection on mortality and the meaning of life.

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