Music for the Jilted Generation
“Meow meow ma meow meow. Charly says, always tell your mummy before you go off somewhere.”
These are the only words that can be heard on the first single I ever bought, way back in 1991. It was Charly by The Prodigy, their first single and which went number 3 in the UK charts for two weeks. I loved it and I loved their first album, Experience. They were energetic, other-worldly, and they moved me in some way.
I thought The Prodigy stood out among their peers, and it turns out that I was right because they are still a huge success, while the other bands I listened to within their breakbeat techno genre are nowhere to be found but on YouTube, posted by other ravers wishing it was still 1992!
Their second album, Music for the Jilted Generation, impressed further, as it was a kind of genius merging of genres, one that managed to cross the musical divide between electronic-based music and purely guitar-driven punk and metal. The album’s title, artwork, and tracks like Poison, Their Law and Voodoo People were astounding, and the sentiment and feeling in the music was potent, raw, aggressive, and euphoric. I still love it.
At that point in time Keith, the frontman, still had long hair and they still hadn’t fully crossed over into the psycho-punk voodoo-looking style of their third album, Fat of the Land, for which they are credited as being one of the pioneers of the new Big Beat/Techno genre.
With Fat of the Land came controversy, a new look and new success, of which the latter has increased as the years have passed. I lost interest in their new stuff after their fourth album, but The Prodigy have in my mind been the most successful techno group in the world. I can’t think of another band like them with that much mainstream success, longevity, and critical acclaim.
So why did I lose interest?
I think it’s because they continued to be musically relevant to their culture, where as I started to be much more conservative, bordering on having ridiculous generalised views like, “the music today is garbage”. I could genuinely debate with anyone about the ways in which music has been on the decline in quality since the early 2000s, but what would be the point?
What I do want to think about is – can we learn something from The Prodigy?
If the church and our Christian lifestyles continue to live in 1992, listening to breakbeat techno, wearing the horrible 1990s clothing (yes, it was worse than the 80s), and telling everyone in the culture of 2017 that they should be listening to Music for a Jilted Generation by The Prodigy, then I am not sure how much success we will have.
What arrogance to say that 1994 was the year in which we achieved the best music, the best sense of style, the best whatever. I certainly don’t like people telling me the 60s or 70s was the best for music. I agree with them to an extent, but The Prodigy were not around then, so that can’t be, as they couldn’t even have imagined making the sound the Prodigy made back then.
The Prodigy didn’t take a gamble with their second or third albums. They wrote music they liked, music that was organic, that came from them, but it was also written and performed with the audience in mind. They must have asked “how do we make our fans explode with excitement?”, and “how do we wow the world of unbelievers, into believing and experiencing us?”. They must have, because they achieved both, with great success.
My wife Lynsey and I feel called to the Jilted Generation that the Prodigy are referencing. It’s not just a one-off generation. It’s more that every generation has a jilted contingent. Punk, Goth, Metal, Underground Rave, Breakbeat, Conscious Rap, or whatever music, art or style they feel most in tune with, we want to be in tune with them.
We are staying 100% true to our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. We are staying faithful to His word, and we will not sacrifice sound theology for the sake of ‘fans’, but we are going to their pubs and hang-outs, not thinking of how we get them anywhere geographically, not thinking how do we get them to enjoy worship, we’re just thinking that we want to cross the huge divide between the mainstream expressions of church and the sub-stream, counter-cultural, and alternative communities and loners throughout Scotland, those who find ‘pop music’ or ‘pop church’ off putting. We can’t let the church be a block to Christ. People need avenues to Christ, and we are the pointers. Where is God pointing you?
Church may very well have been better back then, in a lot of ways I wish I was back then, whenever it was but we are not. We are here and now, in a culture where Lynsey and I see on a weekly basis when teaching health & wellbeing that so many of our youth hate their bodies, devalue themselves, self-harm, starve themselves, over-eat, over-exercise, and are really angry, I mean REALLY angry about a lot of things, and we are entering scary territory for Christians. We need to wake up, and as Matt Morginsky once wrote “Unite, ignite and spark a light to burn so bright; The sight will blind the blind of this our modern time”.
We can’t let the Church only be found on YouTube, posted by people who wish it was whenever in the past. We can’t be retreating monks in a scary hostile world. We all have to be brave and obey God when he says, “Hawl you! I want you to love them. I want you to go there”.
What angers you? What need do you see? That may be where you must go. Some may even call you a pioneer.
Whatever is on your hearts, let us as Christ’s body of believers in Scotland, write and produce Christ’s Music for the Jilted Generation.
The CertHE in Theology (Pioneer Ministry) is offered by SSCM to help Christians in Scotland to offer Christ’s music for a jilted generation. To find out more, complete our online enquiry form. This does not commit you to studying with us.