Thursday, January 07, 2010

Kings of Leon....Representin Jesus and the Holy Ghost?

Everyone's favorite Ex-UPC gone secular rock band (or least favorite) these days is Kings of Leon. When I first heard them in my college dorm 5 years ago (I was a rebel rouser at the time), I was intrigued at their unique bluesy-rock sound. My draw to them grew when I discovered their UPC connection. Their dad was a southern evangelist in our ranks (now removed), and they grew up as UPCers. You don't have to look too hard in our denomination to find someone who either is related to them or knew them personally in their younger days.

That said, there really is nothing Christian about their lyrics, except for a subtle reference here or there to their religious ways of old. However, as they got bigger (they are the biggest rock group in England, and arguably one of the top 5 most popular rock bands in the United States), their connection with the UPC got stranger...

In 2007, their breakthrough album was titled "Because of the Times." Named after the annual Because of the Times conference at the Pentecostals of Alexandria church....

After this album blew up, the oddest thing was how much they had blown up in the UPC amongst teenagers and twenty somethings....It was not because of any uplifting message in their songs, but simply because of their roots....Secular music is generally discouraged amongst us (if not outlawed), but yet Kings of Leon was the hip permissible exception to the rule for many youth's even more confusing when on their most recent album their biggest hit was titled "Sex on Fire" and supposedly describes the difficulties of having an STD.

But just yesterday, my friend alerted me to a song that Kings of Leon has been playing live for the past year that is apparently gaining legendary status amongst Kings of Leon's unnamed at this point but online fans have given it such titles as "Devil's song," "Lucifer," or "New Song." (don't be fooled by the titles)...While no studio version of the song exists, feel free to listen to a live version below....

The lyrics are the most interesting part:

ain’t gonna sell my soul to the devil.
ain’t gonna get down on her level.
ain’t gonna sell my soul to Lucifer.
Tell your girlfriend I aint’ got no use for her.
I went and I sold my soul to Jesus.
Nobody knows just what he means to us.
I went and got me some of that Holy Ghost fire.
Ain’t nothing in this world that can take me higher.

Now I am in no way giving them a stamp of approval, and in no way am I suggesting that one song redeems their whole catalog of other less than Christian songs. I just think it's kind of cool hearing a shout out like this as a direct reference to their Apostolic roots.... (video below)


Anonymous said...

I'm not against secular music as I'm not against secular book reading or secular entertainment forms. But, I agree their music is questionable, and maybe not something our pastors and leaders should be touting.

Interesting song. These artists often cry out from their soul. Are they just another band to mix faith and rock to make a pseudo-mystical imprint in the music scene? Are they making a statement? How does this song go in the same set as STDs.

Anonymous said...

Could they be doing this out of mockery? Just wondering because I've seen some of their interviews on Youtube stating " We didn't know what we were missing out on." ( meaning the world)

Most of their interviews have been discrediting there roots.

Anonymous said...

My thoughts were like the second Anonymous on them doing it out of mockery.

I haven't heard of them before this post.

Joel Riley said...

Okay to the two anons above, i think there are two possibilities here....

1) They are having a change of heart...and by a change of heart, they are going through a maturation process where they genuinely are now sentimentally looking back on their roots with a little nostalgia or longing. Sure they aren't converting, but they miss the days of old (partying like rock stars surely will get old after a while). This would explain the differences of past interviews and this song.

2) I also admit the possibility of mockery in the song. Their track record with Christianity is not good in interviews (as mentioned by the second anon).

I personally really don't care...if it's mockery, all the reason to scorn their music...But at the very least i don't think there is enough out there yet to merit this as conclusive. I am sure once it gets recorded in studio and interviews come out about it, we'll know exactly what's going on.

Gregory said...

I think the lyrics themselves may answer your question. Take a look at them again and see if you think it is mockery.

Their lead singer, I believe his name is Caleb, still wears a cross around his neck. In today's society it is very common to see secularism mixed with a claim of faith. I mean one of the most prominent Christian authors of the 21st Century, Mark Driscoll, used to swear while he preached. Popular bands like Relient K toe the line between Christian and Secular music.

I am not a fan of KOL and I honestly don't like that our youth listens to them but I do not believe this song is mockery.

Anonymous said...

With headphones on and lyrics in sight, I listened to sex on fire entirely. I turned around to my husband, dropped an ear and said the first thing that came to my mind,"they are a familiar spirit to me and have ideas of grandeur." I was not raised an Apostolic. My dad listened to southern rock and my mother to r&b. My grandmother loved Tennessee Ernie Ford and Johnny Cash. I was raised in north Florida, by the river with a bunch of country people who loved music. I guess that's where I picked up the "taste". But music got me into trouble. I did not realize how serious that hold on me was until I tried to quit listening. It was in my fiber and sort of a thorn still. I got the Holy Ghost in '99, the summer before my senior year in high school. After that I was released from the hard stuff. Over the years I have tried to listen to christian music and for the majority it's kind of lame. I have dug deeper and found some bands and groups that have great singers and awesome bands with passionate lyrics. But the first time I ever heard KOL, I knew that something was different. I didn't need to know their background and was not surprised when I found out. I think they have an unique gift, and God does not take back gifts. I hope that one day they really can represent Jesus with their lives and their music, but that is not today. God is a jealous God and their tip toeing around is not cute. They kind of remind me of people who have either backslidden or joined a new doctrine and then show up at Conference or Homecoming. Unlike nonbelievers who come to church looking for God, they prance around with their enlightened minds and socially accepted attire. Personally I feel like a kid sometimes when that happens, like they are getting away with something behind "Daddy's" back. That is something I will workout with Jesus, but at least I'm not drooling at their feet. Secular music is a familiar sprit to me and that's why I'm drawn to their music. The fact that they were shown Truth like me just ups the ante. Their songs are intoxicating and mind altering in the way that a lowly servant as myself daydreams of adoring fans following me around for whatever reason. They have achieved grandeur. They are grand and rich and up to their eyeballs with women and men who adore them and ready to jump, drink kool-aid, etc...I just hope that one day they can make music worthy of The King and that I can worship along with them. ~b.r....

Anonymous said...

Given the quoted lyrics, could they just be using metaphors? Just because the work "devil" is in there, doesn't mean it is literal.

Think of it this way: they come from a background rich in prose, and as artists, they have access to the types of metaphor that can be a very powerful lyric. I think that they are using phrases and terms from their background to tell story. And, likely, the story is not one that aligns with your faith.