I read an article today that featured Hip-Hop artist, Jason Derulo speaking about his recent split from the very talented Jordin Sparks. The two had been together for three years, and accordingly to Derulo, split amicably due to timing and where they were at in their lives. In the interview with Ryan Seacrest, Derulo also discussed how he would be removing certain songs from his set list while on tour. He said songs like “Marry Me,” which he wrote for Jordin Sparks, are too emotional to perform at this time, and it made me start thinking about situations like this that happen every day, and how it applies to the music industry.
We all have those songs that remind of us someone we love, or loved, and they bring back a flood of memories from the first chord to the last. Those hooks that make us think of long Summer nights, or those verses that tell the story of a rainy Sunday we spent with that one special person. Whatever the song and whatever the memory, these moments are always bitter sweet. The songs that can bring a smile and a tear are always a blessing in disguise. For the first time today though I took a moment to think about the person that wrote these songs, who they wrote them for, and how they must feel having to perform them if that person is no longer in their life. Things change so quickly, and be it for good reason, or no reason at all, there’s always staple moment of the memories that don’t alter… like songs. When you hear a song in a certain moment, your brain just connects the two things, it’s human nature. But how can an artist find a way to weed through the hurt, the tears that come along with that memory, and find the smile they once had when the song was true-to-life and emotion.
“Vertigo” is another song Derulo has decided to eliminate from his tour track list, and after watching the couple perform it together it’s clear why. This song clearly held a lot of chemistry for the two, and seemed to be the anthem for their relationship. It’s easy to see that the couple didn’t have to force anything to make the song or performance believable, and I actually commend Derulo for eliminating the song instead of trying to muddle through it on his own during a live performance, but some stars choose to take those songs that stand as souvenirs to their life, and perform them in a different light when things are amiss.
Last month, Beyonce took her popular hit “Resentment,” put on a wedding dress, changed the lyrics from six to twelve years, and made the song really hit home in correspondence with the relationship rumors that were spreading about her & Jay. I’ve seen a lot of Queen B’s performance and this one just may take the cake. The emotion is insane, and is sure to give you chills. Whether or not this was a coincidence, a strategic move made by her management team, or a message she wanted to hand deliver to her man; she sold it.
The power couple performed the above video as their last performance of the night at the same show though, so it’s hard to tell where they stand. And really it’s none of our business. The point of this post isn’t to speculate what has happened to some of the industry’s favorite couples, because we have enough to worry about in our own lives then to focus on someone else’s and try to draw conclusions from fake tabloids and photoshopped evidence. The purpose of this piece however, is to think about the power of a song. The power of music, and the effect it can have on the person who makes it their career. As regular every day human beings, where our life isn’t being projected to the world on a silver platter, we have the ability to pick and choose what we share. While some willingly share more than others as if the people of their Facebook world care more then their own parents, others are selective. In that same sense, we have the ability to turn off a song if the memories are too strong, or turn it up if we need to reminisce on a time we miss; and we can do all of this without being in the presence of an audience. Celebrities while they have the ability to pick and choose what they perform (to some extent, like Derulo is exercising) sometimes the songs are just too popular to remove from the set list, and they have to find the courage to make it through without breaking down, and that I think it was separates a singer from a musician.
Artist showcasing their life for the world to see isn’t always a bad thing, and when times are good, it’s actually really adorable, like John Legend featuring his wife, Christine Teigen in his music video for the beautiful song entitled “All of Me.” I think when everyone heard this their first thought was “this could be my wedding song,” and that’s actually what Legend made it.
This trend has been going on for years, I’m sure dating even later than the 80’s, but Whitney & Bobby were the couple to idolize at a time, and after their trials and tribulations, neither performed this song. There’s a lot to be said about having the strength to make the choice to eliminate a song that you know will bring the crowd to their feet, but I think there comes a point where the audience has to understand what a song means to an artist. It’s like a page of their diary that they’re reading aloud to a room (or stadium) full of people, and sometimes that diary entry just holds too much emotion. Sometimes wounds are too fresh to rub salt on, and it’s better to just wrap it up and let it heal then try to please the masses.
Songs are the soundtrack to our lives. They have a way of saying what our heart would if our minds didn’t get in the way. They tell the stories of our best and worst days. We attach songs to moments, people, and feelings, and sometimes we listen to them because we need a good cry, or because we hope we’ll find an answer somewhere in the lyrics that we’ve heard a million times. We all have these songs that bring us back. Songs that we want to send to someone because it tells how we feel better then we ever could, or ones that we listen to on repeat because it’s nice to know someone else has been in the same place. Music is medicine. It heals. It’s just interesting to think about how those who live & breathe music as a career can actually hurt from it as well. The funny thing is; just like how we say there is never enough time, but time is really all we ever have, the music that these artist create that may hurt too much sometimes to share with a room of hit-hungry fans, are probably on the iPod’s of other artists who are tuning out their own troubles somewhere.