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I've been on the International Space Station - what is Pop Idol?

OK, somebody searched for this so here we go with a brief session looking at the Pop Idol phenomenon.. if you don't know what it is, think of the endless pop acts it has churned out... think ITV on Saturday, think Ant & Dec, think Simon Cowall and those tight trousers tucked up into his midriff.. that's the Pop Idol sensation and we love it.. no, seriously..

By the way, I like a lot of music - mainly rap music - but I'll listen to most stuff in the charts to learn musically and be up to date with what's going on. It may be something you should consider. Even listening to Radio 1 will give you some idea of what young people are listening to. Some of Radio 1 is pretty dodgy too in my opinion! Trying to be controversial but it ain't all that!

NB. Interesting that the last 2 American Pop Idol finalists had CD sales under half that of the leading US Contemporary Christian Musician.

What People Want

Just ask the young people you work with these questions on bits of anonymous paper. Don't let them know that your doing a session on Pop Idol yet:

1. Which people do you look up to (other than your high quality youth workers)?

2. If you had a dream about your ideal career, what would it be?

3. If you could meet one person who would it be?

Now, I guess that many people will respond with jobs in entertainment, music, movies etc. Many of us look up to these people - they're the heroes of the last few generations, publicised heavily by mass media.

A Mini Movie

We did something that you may want to do - but may not. One of the young people had a 'Hearsay' doll bought cheaply in a sale. We had a bit of a laugh with this doll and eventually made a short movie with this doll (that I have yet to edit). If you want, get one of these dolls and make your own storyline - then go for it!

Think of the Charts - Questions and Facts - Discussion

1. What style of music is currently in the Top 10? Go to iTunes or
2. Who is the pop industry aimed at? (mainly at girls aged 8-14)
3. Did you know the price of singles are coming down as singles sales fall?
4. The reason for falling singles is probably the rise of the MP3 (digital music format).
5. Many of the successful bands doing are because they are also successful brands (with their own clothes etc)
6. Get the lyrics of a few songs and assess them. Go to and then input a song, the artist and then the word 'lyrics' and go to see some of the lyrics. Have a look at any of the top US r&b / hip-hop or pop singles. Be warned, lyrics are often very dodgy (like the music videos) - but this gives an idea of what people are listening to and watching.
7. Whatever happened to 'Hearsay' and 'One True Voice'? (Both split up citing difficulties, stress, problems in personal lives and from the media)

Feed back and have a discussion about all this with the young people in your group. Mention that Gareth Gates attended a church in Bradford called 'Abundant Life' and yet has done things that are very un-Godly since coming second in a recent 'Pop Idol'. How can we avoid falling into the same traps?

Thank God

Interesting that at one awards event, 50 Cent, Big Brovaz (Uk rap/r&b collective), Lil Kim (US female rapper) all thanked God. Now, maybe they are thanking the wrong 'god' or just saying words that sound good - but how many of us when we get awards or celebrate anything thank God?

Your Own Pop Idol Competition

Yep, we need to be very careful here but maybe get a panel of youth workers to sit and listen to various people sing a song. They then have to feedback on the performance.

HOWEVER. it has to made clear this is all an act and not serious, you could really cause hurt here.

Another idea is to video Top Of The Pops, CD:UK or something. Then you edit the clips from say 4 or 5 mainstream artists that will be on those shows. Play them back one by one. After each one, pretend to be feeding back to the artist.

Or get a panel of young people to assess youth workers singing songs. Depends on the characters you have!

Talent Show

You could organise a talent show to get young people and youth workers to show off their talents

Show A Clip from Pop Idol

If you get the timing right, video part of a Saturday night Pop Idol, maybe a bit just before adverts where they show really bad singing, or the end of a show where they compile performances. Else video a time that a Pop Idol sings or their video is shown.

What Are You Listening To?

Challenge the young people about what they're listening to and why. Pop Idol is great but listen to many of the lyrics of many songs. A lot of rock songs can be very depressing offering no hope. A lot of rap and r&b is so sexually explicit it may come as quite an eye-opener!

As much as this - what are they watching. If you've got Freeview, tune into The Hits or TMF (music channels) and you'll be amazed at some of the videos. Please be careful as a youth worker to protect your mind and don't do this if you feel God doesn't want you to.

Some Pop and Star Quotes - again from - highly recommended

"I personally have never been to a strip club, but I turn on MTV and see in every single video what it must be like to be at a strip club."
- Stevie Nicks (Fleetwood Mac), Herald and Weekly Times, September 19, 2003 (from

"When something as terrible as your father dying happens, you start redefining everything. I feel the finiteness of life - I'm still grieving pretty heavily~but I realize that we are all going to die, so I want to be with people that I love, and I want to travel."
- Actress Gwyneth Paltrow, Associated Press, September 23, 2003

"I try to think happy thoughts to put myself in a good mood. It usually works. If all else fails, there's shopping."
- Actress/singer Hilary Duff, YM, October 2003, p. 87.

"I think I always thought being a star would make everything okay. Make you loved, make you this or that. But as time went on I found out that just wasn't true."
- Hal Riddle, 83 year old retired actor, Entertainment Weekly, September 19, 2003, p. 56.

Singer of the famous band, Nirvana, called Kurt Kobain, famously committed suicide.

Does being a pop singer, a pop idol, really make you happy??

I want to be famous?

There was a famous song which you may hear sometimes called 'When will I be famous?' by a band that really should never have been allowed to see the light of day (like all 80s bands) and they were called 'Bros' or something.

For many people this is true. We seek fame and fortune. We look at New York and Times Square or LA and think 'wow, I so want to be there.' I've been to New York as yes I love the place. But what does the Bible say? Get people to look up these verses and then read them back if they can..

1. Philippians 4.11-12
2. 1 Timothy 6.6-10
3. Hebrews 13.5
4. Proverbs 30.7-9

You see, the whole problem of Pop Idol is not about one person winning, it's not that we do or don't like the style of music. The problem is that God sees into the heart, not what's on the outside. Too many times in the West we value what is on the outside not on the inside.

We celebrate the young, the good-looking, the fit, the healthy, the rich, the famous, the movie star, the pop idol. Yet we shouldn't worship or aspire to this as our priority. God is the priority and out of this relationship with God will come real and true satisfaction.

A vicar on TV recently said, 'maybe we should have vicar idol' where we choose the best dressed vicar, presumably where we assess their teaching style, ability to lead Communion etc. He was making a joke, as I am.. but the point was deadly serious. God doesn't see how 'cool' you are and he doesn't see your spots, big backside, or bald head. No, God sees your heart.

We don't want to be following Pop Idol but worshipping the greatest King there is - Jesus. Who do you think invented music? In one of my raps I say:

'Writing controversial lyrics, talkin bout things that haven't ever been done
But like King Solomon said, there ain't nothin new under the sun
It's hard for me to see, how you claim originality
When David wrote Psalms better than all our lyrical agility

I've got nothing against Pop Idol. In the same way that it was cool that a committed Christian once won Big Brother, I'd love it if a full-on disciple of Jesus won Pop Idol. But we won't get anywhere unless God is number one in our everyday lives - and stays that way!

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