Sunday, October 25, 2020

Together We Can Get Through This...We Can Do Anything

I have recently been listening to a playlist of BTS group and member collaboration songs from over the years. For a good overview, Michele Mendez recently wrote All Of BTS' Collaboration Songs Prove They Can Tackle Any Musical Genre in Elite Daily and included links and short descriptions of the top 20. I picture everyone involved in these projects as learning from each other and growing to become both better artists and people.

That’s the hope and potential available, anyway.

RM’s late 2017 collaboration Champion with Fall Out Boy has struck me hard lately. I touched briefly on my appreciation for his Wale one that year in When’s it Gonna Change? Right Now. I never explored Champion but I should have. They relate: cynicism, disillusionment, hope, and self-affirmation to build something new are all mixed up in both these songs.

Along with one overriding truth: relying on each other will benefit us all.

This fact is especially poignant in 2020 as we are mired in the SARS-CoV-2 global pandemic. Can we all be “champions” by getting through this?

For me, “Champion” started as a strongly angry, angst-ridden rock tune that grew with the additional lyrics by RM and the influx of electronic-pop and rap elements. The flesh RM adds to the body of the song gives more depth to the reasons why there are both such anger and such determination to overcome it.

RM raps:

Have you ever felt how hard it is to be an anybody
To be living, to be breathing, not choosing a dead body
Remember, the man told me that this life is a party
Yeah, all the glory's so short you should put away the garbages
Normal ain't normal, ordinary is a luxury
People say "Woo, pessimism" what the other mean?
If you wanna understand, you stand under
This shit is vital, respect to the mothers and fathers
What's wrong with the life of a passenger
If somebody gotta be, then I'mma be the messenger
I'm just too young, don't know what to believe in
But too young, you know, not to be living
I will stay, I will wait and I'll fight like a king
Even though I can forever ever be a king
I will marry this goddamn world, by my own
And put myself on a goddamn ring

He lists the hardships bluntly: that youth or lack of connections and power can make success seem impossible, but he’s willing to try hard and put the ring of success on himself by getting himself in the ring to fight.

Patrick Stump sings:

And I'm back with a madness
I'm a champion of the people who don't believe in champions
I got nothing but dreams inside
I got nothing but dreams

To me, he’s saying that even if the people have given up hope in champions because of hardships, the concept of and truth that a “Champion” exists is not necessarily lost just because people don’t believe. There are those who can fulfill that role if they act on the dreams they have inside. What a message for 2020!

I also love how the song plays with the concept of defining the term “champion”. RM describes 3 levels of existence:

“Somebody” is those we normally look up to but are they worthy of that respect?
“Anybody” is a person living the best they can, so perhaps truly worthy of respect.
“Dead body” is a person dead on the inside, who’s truly pitiful.

I have felt at times in my life that if I didn’t have a fire inside me telling me things are wrong and could be better, life would be easier. I have felt that if I were able to just put my head down and work within the system I find myself, I could be really successful- a champion of some sort. I haven’t been able to do that because making myself into someone else's image has made me feel dead inside. 

This what I think of when Patrick sings:

got rage every day, on the inside
The only thing I do is sit around and kill time
I'm trying to blow out the pilot light, I'm trying to blow out the light

To me, the pilot light is that inner voice telling me to try to fix things that cause the rage. If he or I could snuff it out, we’d have less internal conflict and just do what’s expected. Others have interpreted that differently. That inner turmoil of rage at the status quo and the desire to not feel compelled to try to fix it is summed up in his next lines:

I'm just young enough to still believe, still believe
But young enough not to know what to believe in
Young enough not to know what to believe

To me, he’s saying he KNOWS there’s a way- a better way. He KNOWS there’s a chance for something good- something better. There’s just so much fear and resistance out there and perhaps inside too, he doesn’t know if he has the strength to try.

BUT...if he does. If I do. If WE do...

If I can live through this
If I can live through this
If I can live through this

I can do anything

That’s why this song is speaking to me now. 2020 is a cliff in so many ways. So many things could happen as a result of what we choose to do.

Public health, social justice, civil rights, education, health care, mental health care, environment, gun control, economic development…what if we reach out to one another across the country and around the globe like these artists who collaborate to build bigger and better art?

If we can live through this
If we can live through this
If we can live through this

We can do anything

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