Liposuction and the miserable message of ‘Millennium’
Live for liposuction, and detox for your rent
overdose at Christmas, and give it up for Lent
my friends are all so cynical, refuse to keep the faith
we all enjoy the madness cause we know we’re gonna fade away
we’ve got stars directing our fate, and we’re praying it’s not too late, cause we know we’re falling from grace, millenium
– Pop Artist Robbie Williams
It has been said that if you want to know where the culture is headed then examine the arts – paintings, movies, dance, theatre, television, literature and music for clues. British pop superstar Robbie Williams’ song, “Millennium,” rocketed to No. 1 on worldwide music charts in 1998. While inspired by the character James Bond of movie fame, the tune is an anthem of hopelessness, a malady too often caused by the postmodern influences in our lives.
I am not a fan of Williams’ music and encountered his song only last year while having dinner at an Indianapolis restaurant during the Southern Baptist Convention’s annual meeting. Just as we were placing our order with a 20s-something waitress, “Millennium” popped-up on one of many music video screens throughout the establishment. I noticed that our waitress, as she walked away to place our orders, joined Williams in singing its depressing lyrics. That prompted me to pay closer attention to the song.
Williams understands humankind’s problem: “… we’re falling from grace …” and “… refuse to keep the faith, (so) we all enjoy the madness …,” he sings, but he offers no useful remedy. He suggests the paranormal, perhaps astrology, which makes sense. Williams believes in UFOs. He has also battled drug addiction and insanity.
Lest you discount his influence on culture you should know his record sales over the past decade total more than $90 million. When he announced a recent world tour, more than 1.5 million tickets were purchased worldwide in one day, an all-time record according to The Guinness Book of World Records. British fans recently voted Williams one of the top 25 most important artists in rock music history. Think about that the next time your teenager walks through the kitchen with their MP3 player and a headset on.
The timing of “Millennium’s” release is a key toward understanding its message, for it immediately preceded a millennium change and the “Y2K” doom-and-gloom predictions that never materialized. Still, its message is much broader – and equally disturbing. It reflects the utter hopelessness and extreme skepticism that grips our culture. The lines “live for liposuction and detox for your rent” are illusions for the excesses brought on by a thirst for material things and the damaging consequences that too often result. Drugs are not the answer either – and finally, in frustration for the lack of meaning to life, Williams laments “… we know we’re going to fade away ….”
What are Christians to make of such miserable lyrics? Could it be that, ironically, it imparts truth to our younger generations who have been taught that truth does not exist? This obvious contradiction is all too characteristic of today’s culture. As Americans, we say we hold to the ideas set forth in the Declaration of Independence – “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” Yet we deny the very first tenet – “life” – to the most vulnerable: the unborn and aged.
Meanwhile, skepticism and cynicism reign. The collapse of American journalism – with its biased agendas and lying – threatens the future of our democratic republic because it has made it more difficult for people to find truth. Trust in our government is evaporating before our eyes as it spends itself into oblivion. New memberships with the National Rifle Association are at an all-time high and ammunition shortages are being reported as a cynical citizenry arms itself to the teeth. It is into this culture that we welcome a new, gigantic generation, often referred to as – you guessed it – “The Millennials.” There are more of them than in any previous American generation and in recent days we learned that more babies were born in 2007 than in any year in our nation’s history.
The despondent lyrics of “Millennium” describe what life looks like for people who have not placed their faith in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. For believers, Christ is our hope in the face of such hopelessness. I’m reminded of another song’s lyrics: “My hope is built on nothing less, than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.” The answer to the miserable message of “Millennium” is found in Scripture. No methodology, gimmick or message of prosperity will do the trick. The entire counsel of God’s Word must be faithfully preached and taught. Peter, in his first epistle, offers the remedy to the despair expressed in “Millennium:” “Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”