The Pope Released a Rock Album

You may have heard a lot about Pope Francis lately. He’s kind of in right now! He recently visited the U.S., and with lots of audiences and photo ops, he has generally been catching everyone’s attention. He’s the star of a recent ad campaign by Twitter. The Pope has emojis. The Pope is trending. He has multiple hashtags. The Pope is cool. But what you may not know is that he’s cashed in on his “pope culture” moment and dropped an album. That’s right. The Pope has an album. I’ll give you a moment.

Pope Francis’ album, “Wake Up!” was released November 27. The album contains songs in several languages and though I must admit that I am no linguist, I have an appreciation for many diverse types of music and wanted to dive right in. It’s an album by the Pope, for God’s sake! That said, the album actually struggles for a few different reasons.

The songs themselves can be quite pretty, with catchy orchestration accompanied by many talented vocalists and choirs. What often distracts from that is His Holiness himself. The songs often drop out and the Pope’s Greatest Hits are overlaid on the track. Not any singing, just his words. Any enjoyment you might experience listening to the song is undercut by him interrupting. They’re mostly old recordings from him speaking in public places, so there’s feedback and echo. It’s grating. I do find it a very sweet move that these recordings often include the pontiff’s audience cheering or clapping. That’s legit. Include the crowd who cannot get enough of you on the album. Props.

I will say that I was surprised to hear prog rock blended in with the world music vibe. When I say prog rock, I mean bands like Rush and Pink Floyd. Heavy on the synthesizers, encouraging thoughts of our place in the universe - which I suppose is the sort of thing the Pope’s rock album should do.

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