What makes this song so powerful? The lyrics, melody or soulful delivery?
Borrowing influences from African-American jazz and blues, Irish recording artist Hozier sings a kind of perverted hymn against the church and its organizations that cultivate a culture of homophobia. At the same time, he pledges his loyalty to a new kind of “church” where his lover is the new “God” and the “bedroom” the new place of worship. We all know what that means.
From the interview, we already know it’s all about the oppressed state of the LBGT community in Putin’s Russia and thus his feelings about the Catholic Church. Painting them as hostile, heartless vigilantes, the video harshly critics the institution’s followers who will do whatever it takes to impose their draconian beliefs on society. Even if they have to violate that person’s rights.
The song’s meaning sums up to this quote:
Growing up in Ireland, the church is always there – the hypocrisy, the political cowardice…an organization that undermines humanity.
– Hozier, Billboard
But the delivery, through both the video and lyrics, is pretty powerful.
The video shows this gay couple doing ordinary people things like throwing stones in the water, cycling, chilling, smoking, and just spending quality time together. We don’t see them committing bad things like beating people at all. Oh yeah, they kissed passionately too.
Wait, that’s a very, very bad crime isn’t it?
From a secular viewpoint, the real antagonists should be the masked group that attacked unprovoked, barging into someone’s house, assaulting people and destroying their possessions. But in this world, they’re not. They’re from the church, and apparently have full jurisdiction by the church. This song wasn’t aimed at faith or Christianity, but church and religion.
Yeah, even with these kinds of lyrics:
If I’m a pagan of the good times
My lover’s the sunlight
To keep the Goddess on my side
She demands a sacrifice
He wants to see how the Church and fellow Christians would react, through words, in a humane manner. Or maybe they’ll prove him right and react violently. Just like in the music video.
So unlike the video, Hozier’s a lot less innocent in his lyrics. He’s practically throwing his weight around the the Bible itself by defining his own devilish concept of “Heaven”, feminizing God, putting ridicule on the concept of “Original Sin” and even saying that his blasphemous acts are “gentle” and “innocent” at the end. The events faced by protagonists in the song and video don’t match at all. One’s worshipping sex and the other’s getting beaten – how are they related?
Both carry the same message:
- Unconditional Love – Are you willing to accept that humans have their rights to love whoever they want? Are you going to discriminate simply because of sexual orientation?
- Moral Compass – Do they do what is right for humanity, or only what is not “sinful”?
- Hypocrisy – Were the “religious” ones free of the sins they preached against, or did they only condemned acts in their own favor?
Really, worship of women and sex, it’s like he’s banging on the church doors and asking for it. This is in huge contrast to the two men, who were actually quiet and innocent.
Something meaty for the main course
That’s a fine looking high horse, What you got in the stable?
We’ve a lot of starving faithful, That looks tasty…plenty
This is hungry work
This part is so heavily laden with sexual innuendos it’s somewhat amusing. Alluding sex to words like “hungry” and “starving”, he’s subtly reminding us how sex and food belong in the same level within Maslow’s hierarchy – it is a basic human need. Yet when we look at the terms “high horse” and “tasty”, they seem to imply some sort of luxury…then we look at the terms again, and the rest of the lyrics, then back again, before realizing that what he’s really doing is jabbing the religious radicals by asking them something along the lines of…don’t you have a boner too?
Odd. It’s like Hozier’s lyrics are like a pent up frustration after watching the video.
In one night, the Church’s followers broke into the man’s home, dragged him out, gave him a violent beating and threw his precious box into the fire. His friend could only watch. Apparently they were enough of a threat in the eyes of the institution to warrant the kind of assault usually given to terrorists.
Everything he did to mock Christianity, from perverting the “Heavens” to declaring himself “pagan” was all done to bait and reel in the exact people who’d feel offended. The church. Who knew religion itself was perfect for a viral music video? On a more sociopolitical note, he wants us to have an idea of what his mind is going through – his meaning of love, his contemplation of sin, him reflecting on his moral compass. To him, sex between a loving couple, gay or not, shouldn’t be a sin that warrants prosecution or violent punishment. Not by the state, not by religion.
What do you think?