Michael W. Smith’s 1992 album Change Your World was the first CD my family owned. My sister and I had gone to a fundamentalist baptist school that held candy sale fundraiser every year. Depending on how much candy you sold there were different prizes you could choose from and one year we got enough to get the brand-new CD boombox. Since my family were rebellious, my parents got us the newest Michael W. Smith album; something our fellow fundies would have surely condemned us for. Rock music is evil, even (or especially) if it pretends to be Christian, or so it went. Here’s the opening track from the album “Picture Perfect”, in which Smith attempts a feminist anthem for the early 90s CCM crowd. Also, it was so totally my jam as a 9 year-old, for some reason. I suspect it was the synths.
I can’t fault the guy for trying, and this is fairly progressive compared to what other Christian singers were doing at the time, but the whole premise of female validation via male approval still misses the point. “Don’t worry ‘baby’, I’ll still give you the male attention you (obviously) need to have purpose in your life (because you’re a woman and that’s what women need), even if you aren’t perfect”. Also, if keeping up with the Joneses means wearing a red leather vest with the whatever-the-fuck web of arm straps that his backup dancers are wearing, count me out. I love the editing of this video, “Quick, he’s trying to dance, go to a wide shot before people realize how white he is” and the classic “cut to the drummer because Michael’s lips aren’t in sync with the tape”. If you pay attention at 2:37, there’s a vocal on the tape that I’m pretty sure is black woman, but they just edited it to a shot of white dude backup singer and then the second half of the same vocal is a different white guy. Brilliant.