I am not sure quite how to start this review. I am not a huge fan of this album. I am nervous saying this because the name of the band is Fun. Who in their right minds says, “I don’t like fun?” Saying I dislike Fun. makes me sound ridiculous! If you don’t own the album, you have to admit that you don’t have Fun. Tricky, tricky name. Well played, Fun.
But, alas, I don’t like Fun. At least, I don’t like Fun. as much as everyone else seems to like Fun. I first heard their hit “We Are Young” on a car commercial and thought it was the greatest hook I heard in a long time. (The song features Janelle Monáe, whose album “ArchAndroid” is arguably the most brilliant album of the decade thus far and should be purchased before you finish reading this review…okay…sorry for that aside…) Don’t get me wrong, these guys write catchy songs that are, in fact, a lot of fun. Their performance at the Grammy’s suggests they are great live. Listening to the album, I can picture myself standing at some huge venue, arms raise, and chanting, “Whoa–ah—whoa—oh—oh…” and loving it.
But apart from a few enjoyable hooks and catchy anthem chants, I have a hard time listening to the vocals on the album. Lead singer Nate Ruess seems to walk the fine line between yelling and singing. I am also becoming very disenchanted with the use of computer alterations to the voice of a lead singer so that it sounds like his voice is digitalized. Now, I am not entirely sure “digitalizes” is a word, but I am also not entirely sure singers can actually sing anymore. When the notes are too far out of range one can just simply adjust the computer. It cheapens things a bit. I am not against new technologies being used in music, but I am also a fan of singers who sing. I would much rather have a Beyonce lip-syncing to her own voice at the President’s inauguration than an album where the singer needs a computer to make him sound capable of doing his job. Maybe I am becoming an old curmudgeon, but this is not a move in the music industry I am excited about.
OK, enough of my whining. Let’s do some lyrical analysis. I want to focus in on the title track, “Some Nights.”
Have you ever had some nights when you lie awake in bed thinking about where you are and how you got there? Do you lie awake struggling with regret, loneliness, or fear? Do you struggle with your identity?
In an interview with the Associated Press (http://www.songfacts.com/detail.php?id=25525) , Ruess said: “I’m always thinking about, ‘Who am I and why did I do something like that?’” Do you identify with that? I really do.
I picture Ruess lying awake with these thoughts running through his head. Feeling overwhelmed, getting frustrated, even giving up. In light of the struggles, he wonders if there is anything worth actually fighting for in this world. With life being this frustrating, what is the point?
But I still wake up, I still see your ghost Oh, Lord, I’m still not sure what I stand for oh
Woah oh oh (What do I stand for?)
Woah oh oh (What do I stand for?)
Most nights I don’t know anymore…
In search for purpose and meaning, he seems to have given up on God as an option. He sings:
No. When I see stars, when I see, when I see stars, that’s all they are
When I hear songs, they sound like this one, so come on.
Oh, come on. Oh, come on. Oh, come on!
Only stars above. There is no meaning and no point. There is a profound connection between the belief in a personal God and finding meaning in this world. Without God to give us an identity or a purpose, we are left to figure out who we are on our own. We may try and picture who we want to be, but that doesn’t seem to jive with how we are living. I may see myself as a good friend and a loving person, but then why have I left my family to follow my own personal, self-interested dreams? As Ruess asks, “Did I leave my mom and dad for this?” I expect myself to be a certain way, but then I look at my track record, and I have failed. I have hurt others. So, I have to ask: What does that mean about me? What kind of person am I that I have done these things? Without a personal God, we have to search and strain for categories to make sense of all this. “Oh, who am I?” Fun. despairs.
But there is a personal God who does give us an identity. He is our Creator, which makes us His creatures. That is, we are made by the very hands of God. But as we look at our lives and our failures and the pain we have caused others we know that we aren’t living the way God would have His creatures live. We call this sin. We creatures also have “sinner” as our identity. What is more, God also knows we aren’t living the way He made us to live. We are actually ruining what He has made! But our God loves us enough, broken and disoriented as we are, to fight for us, to make a stand for us. He identifies himself as one of us, in fact becoming one of us fully in Christ Jesus. Our Father sends His only Son, Jesus, to forgive our sins on the cross. Entering our despairing nights, our nights of fear and guilt, He brings us hope. He rises from the dead to pull us out of our despair. He recreate us, give us new hope and a new life free from the despair of our guilt and sin. Ruess sings:
Man, you wouldn’t believe the most amazing things that can come from…
Some terrible nights.
But we have new identity markers! We are: forgiven sinner, beloved child of God, friend of Jesus.
God gives us this identity in our baptism. Back to Ruess’ questions: Why did I do something like that?Because you are a sinner. We all are. That is why we sin. But, in light of Christ, we can answer his first question with more joy: Who are you? You are baptized. You are a child of God. You belong to Him. In the waters of baptism God the Holy Spirit has united you to Christ in His death, thus ridding you of your sinful identity, leaving it on the cross. He has raised you to a new life in Christ. Because of God’s love for you in Jesus, that is who you are!