Secular Songs That ‘Take You to Church’ | Playlist
This playlist is comprised of 12 secular songs that ‘take you to church,’ well sort of. These songs aren’t necessarily fueled by Christianity.
Religious themes appear frequently throughout pop music. That said, that doesn’t necessarily mean that the respective artists are Christians or religious in the least. The songs that appear on this playlist are moving in some respects, but clearly secular. In fact, some even have their fair of skepticism – you may recognize them from our Religiously Skeptical Gems playlists. Without further ado, here are 12 secular songs that ‘take you to church.’ Featured artists include Hozier, Kesha, and Sam Smith.
1. Sam Smith, “Pray”
Album: The Thrill of It All, 2017
“You won’t find me in church (no) reading the Bible (no) / I am still here and I’m still your disciple / I’m down on my knees, I’m beggin’ you, please / I’m broken, alone and afraid.” Sam Smith excels at balladry. On “Pray,” the second single from his sophomore album, The Thrill of it All, he focuses on religion. He expresses his skepticism towards religion, yet feels he needs to pray and try to believe in something.
“I’m young and I’m foolish, I’ve made bad decisions / I block out the news, turn my back on religion… / Lately, that shit ain’t been gettin’ me higher / I lift up my head and the world is on fire / There’s dread in my heart and fear in my bones / And I just don’t know what to say / Maybe I’ll pray…/ I have never believed in You, no / But I’m gonna pray.”
2. Macklemore, “Church”
Album: Gemini, 2017
When it comes to religion, musicians are ‘all over the map.’ Some are outspokenly religious, some are quietly/moderately religious or spiritual, and others are indifferent. On “Church,” Macklemore speaks on his religious background, but after listening, one doesn’t get the impression he’s religious per se. Ultimately, his faith seems complicated.
“Mom and pops, they used to take us to church / Saying ‘if you don’t believe, then the prayin’ don’t work’ / With the beatbox I got free on the pavement, I’m first / Music brought me to my knees, I found faith in a verse / So dear spirit, I know I gotta take a chance / And my mistakes and shortcomings finally made a man / I got some issues, I got problems, gotta make amends…”
It seems that Macklemore is thankful for the blessings bestowed upon him – his daughter, his career, etc. But, how religious or spiritual is he? Examining “Miracle” that precedes “Church,” if we take him literally, he’s not. Yet, the way he ends the featured lyric below is a common Christian confirmation of agreement or truth.
“…The praise won’t save me, and neither will the fan mail / I’d be a sinner, but thank God I’m not religious / And I’m addicted, drugs and women, there’s no difference / I know the right, but the wrong is just so tempting / I got a phobia, fear of what I’m missing, amen.”
3. Kesha, “Praying”
Album: Rainbow, 2017
Kemosabe / RCA
Kesha gave us all chills on “Praying,” the promo single for Rainbow. “Praying” marked her first departure – a stark contrast from her past work. A ballad, it’s clear from the jump she’s aiming for empowerment for herself, and others who’ve been in an unfortunate situation. By the end of the song, the powerhouse vocals are mind-blowing. Where has she been hiding this? The most surprising moment is when she nails a high F that no one – NO ONE – thought she could hit. Judging by the content, Dr. Luke is definitely in the doghouse.
“‘Cause you brought the flames and you put me through hell / I had to learn how to fight for myself / And we both know all the truth I could tell / I’ll just say this is I wish you farewell / I hope you’re somewhere prayin’, prayin’ / I hope your soul is changin’, changin’ / I hope you find your peace / Falling on your knees, prayin’.”
It should also be noted that Rainbow features numerous instances of Kesha ‘stepping up her game,’ opting for empowerment and thoughtfulness over gimmickry and silliness. Her “Tik Tok” days are over.