I still think “Take Me to Church” is a bad song. But I’m of a mind that if you’re going to criticize something, you had best offer a positive alternative. This week, i found an alternative. Where “Take Me to Church” is desperate, needy, and insecure, this song is gentle, self-confident, and mutually affirming.
Hozier lives in a self-absorbed world of loving out of insecurity (incidentally, the same world that Tove Lo lives in), with the hope that love will fill the every void and a conviction that anything less is insufficient. He contorts himself to satisfy his perception of what the lover wants:
“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.”
In no way is this a healthy relationship, with the Divine or with one’s lover. This orientation of appeasing, of “worthiness,” of putting a person on a pedestal… it’s a set up for failure. What about a healthy relationship where love is woven with religious experience? Exhibit B. “Sunday Candy” by Donnie Trumpet and the Social Experiment (Social Experiment is a somewhat fluid and collaborative group, so I’ll refer to individual members who worked on this song).