We’ve all gone down some rabbit holes during lockdown.
My particular rabbit hole has been music reaction videos.
That’s right. I’ve spent way too much time locked up at home watching funky young hip hop and rap dudes reacting to classic rock and pop songs that were delivered way before they were.
And being astounded by how astounded they are when they hear a classic banger that I assume everyone on the planet must have heard. Seems like heaps more people are doing music reaction videos during lockdown, with some getting huge numbers of views.
Watching 20-somethings being blown away by Led Zeppelin, The Beatles (yep, some had never heard one Beatles song before), Steely Dan, ABBA – or “Ay-Bee-Bee-Ay” as they were generally called, is a whole lotta fun. Or a whole lotta love as Led Zeppelin might sing.
And boy do they mangle those names. Apart from the Swedish supergroup mispronunciation, we have our very own Australians, “I-N-X-S”. We also see reactions to “Ay-Ha” and their classic billion-viewed masterpiece video Take On Me, surely one of the most significant music videos ever. Watching people go through the highs and lows of that video’s story-line is brilliant.
And by the time they get to Bridge Over Troubled Waters by Simon and Garflunk…. Garf… Garnflink, Garfunkey….Garf-whatever, well you get the picture.
The sweetest responses are generally from a young black bloke in his mid-twenties who is brought to tears by ABBA’s Dancing Queen. He is worth the price of admission. And to watch the jump-scare by the super fly million subscriber hip-hop guy with the deep voice, fantastic production values (potty mouth though), and deep insight at the climax of Foo Fighters The Pretender (best rock song/video ever IMHO) … Brilliant!
And there are those two young Pakistani guys, Scousers in Liverpool, whose accents are more John, Paul, Ringo and George than the Fab Four ever managed. They’re hilarious.
And what about those savvy white college boys being astonished at ZZ Top’s La Grange, wondering how those old blokes had sneaked such an amazing song past them. It’s hilarious, especially since the “old bloke” with the gravelly voice singing – Billy Gibbons -was only 23, probably their age, at the time he sang it.
And the sheer silence and sombre reflection after hearing the best cover song ever, Johnny Cash singing Nine Inch Nails’ song, Hurt, is brilliant. What starts as a cheeky comment “Oh here’s a country song”, ends up being a reflection on death, the futility of gaining material possessions, and the need to reconcile. And not a few tears from some. To watch a young person hardened by violent and misogynistic lyrics switch from sassy to sober as the song ends is astonishing. As one young bloke says:
This video is kinda scary for me. Cos one of my biggest fears is to grow old and have lots of regrets.
From the grave Johnny still speaks.
But my all time favourite, this? And with over half a million views in a couple of weeks probably a lot of people’s, is a young woman called Sushi, watching perhaps what is the purest live singing performance of all time, The Righteous Brothers Unchained Melody. Best music video reaction. Ever! If you need an interlude from reading, have a watch.
Now apart from the right royal waste of time all of this is for me, there’s a crucial point to make. It’s not merely the reaction to the music and the videos that is memorable, and much less the numbers of Youtube hits. It’s more than that. What is it? It’s this:
It’s the desire to share their joy with others that gives it the magic.
These Youtubers watch something that blows them away, that moves them, and that gets them excited so much that they just have to share it with us. They’ve discovered something wonderful and they want us to know!
They’re articulating, in often less intellectual, but certainly no less emotional, ways what CS Lewis observed in Reflections on the Psalms, about discovering something joyful and joy-filled and which we wish to praise:
I think we delight to praise what we enjoy because the praise not merely expresses but completes the enjoyment; it is its appointed consummation. It is not out of compliment that lovers keep on telling one another how beautiful they are; the delight is incomplete till it is expressed. It is frustrating to have discovered a new author and not to be able to tell anyone how good he is; to come suddenly, at the turn of the road, upon some mountain valley of unexpected grandeur and then to have to keep silent because the people with you care for it no more than for a tin can in the ditch; to hear a good joke and find no one to share it with.
The delight is incomplete until it is expressed. Yep, that’s the guts of it. And that’s what we see in these music video reactions, a delight that is expressed and then shared and then that goes viral.
It’s a wonderful understanding of the message about Jesus, the good news of the gospel which has gone viral for two millennia. Sure the gospel can be expressed in fact, or talked about in historical context, but it can only truly go viral when it is a delight that the one experiencing it cannot contain within. They must tell others. They must!
We see this even in the story of the lost coin that Jesus tells in Luke 15:
Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Doesn’t she light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbours together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin.’ In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.
The joy is completed in the sharing. Lost coin or a lost sinner, the neighbours and the angels need to know, they just need to! The gospel works like that. It works like a Youtuber watching a music video and wanting to share this newfound discovery with the world. That it goes viral is the icing on the cake.
And that wonderful story of the woman at the well in John 4 who is compelled to rush back to the villagers who would previously have spurned her, calling out as she does:
‘Come, see a man who told me everything I’ve ever done. Could this be the Messiah?’
Sushi puts it another way, in almost breathless emotion, after watching that stellar performance by the Righteous Brothers:
What just happened? I literally felt like I was serenaded by the gods.
And that’s the gospel, right? In the gospel of Jesus we were actually serenaded, not by the gods, but by the only God who loves us and who wishes to unchain us from the sin and brokenness that has us bound. And he does so with a Love Song so melodious and tender that we cannot contain ourselves and we must tell whoever will listen, we must! Our delight is incomplete until it is expressed.
Is the gospel that love song for you? Are you champing at the bit to share it with others? It will, but it only will, insofar as our hearts are captivated to the point that we want to see it go viral and hear this response from those who have never heard it: “I can’t believe I’ve never heard this news before!”