They Took Him to Church
January 14, 2015 6:58 AM   Subscribe

When Irish singer-songwriter Hozier played Paris this month, a surprise was waiting. When he reached the chorus of his hit song, "Take Me to Church," a 20 person choir in the front row joined in with him. More here.
posted by DirtyOldTown (45 comments total) 31 users marked this as a favorite
 
What a wonderful moment, thanks.
posted by LooseFilter at 7:09 AM on January 14, 2015


That huge smile on his face when he first realizes what's up.

Lovely. I also like Kiesza's cover, which she did before this song (deservedly) blew up.
posted by gwint at 7:10 AM on January 14, 2015 [4 favorites]


I love this song and that was just fantastic. So sweet to see how much he enjoyed it, too.
posted by fiercecupcake at 7:15 AM on January 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


Gah, this song. It has a real, smoldering intensity that I don't hear a lot of on Top 40 radio. This is such a cool project - Hozier's background is in blues and this type of choral arrangement really brings out the blues/gospel elements to the melody and chord structure. Plus of course that smile that gwint mentions could power entire cities.
posted by capricorn at 7:15 AM on January 14, 2015 [5 favorites]


I have been addicted to this song for months. I saw this clip a wee while ago but didn't read about it so I thought the thing was he had "hidden" the choir in the audience. It's much nicer to know they surprised him instead. Really sweet.

I'm sure it's a story he will re-tell on our wedding day. yes I said our wedding day. good day, sir.
posted by billiebee at 7:16 AM on January 14, 2015 [11 favorites]


Delightful.
posted by GrapeApiary at 7:18 AM on January 14, 2015


This is lovely, thank you!
posted by Orange Dinosaur Slide at 7:18 AM on January 14, 2015


Awww, he looked so overwhelmed and happy
posted by Windigo at 7:21 AM on January 14, 2015


...and yeah, I recently noticed this song and really, really love it.
posted by Windigo at 7:23 AM on January 14, 2015


Huh, never heard of this guy before. Thank you!

I'm sure it's a story he will re-tell on our wedding day. yes I said our wedding day. good day, sir.

but he's not a bigamist
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 7:27 AM on January 14, 2015


Gaw, he was so genuinely tickled by that - too precious.
posted by Fig at 7:34 AM on January 14, 2015


This is incredibly charming!
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 7:37 AM on January 14, 2015


Funny, I was just wondering recently if he was tired of performing this song (I mean I'm sure every artist or band who has one big hit has to deal with that, but it struck me that it's a particularly difficult song to phone in, and every audience at every show must have big expectations of it being a huge, heartfelt climax). I bet this was refreshing after playing the same thing over and over again for almost a year.
posted by retrograde at 7:43 AM on January 14, 2015


Jonathan Coulton allows recordings of his concerts, and there's one in a small club somewhere I have on a CD where one of his songs gets a really nice audience chorus singalong while he does the main part. He is very happy about it.
posted by jscott at 7:43 AM on January 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


If you ever see Paul Westerberg solo, sometimes he forgets the words and offers to let the audience sing lead while he sings harmony. It's kind of weird, but great.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 7:47 AM on January 14, 2015


Wait a second. Singer-songwriter on top 40 radio. Gas at 78 cents. What year is this???
posted by Brodiggitty at 7:47 AM on January 14, 2015 [16 favorites]


Gah, this song. It has a real, smoldering intensity that I don't hear a lot of on Top 40 radio.

The lyrics are clever and timeless, imo. Seems like it has as much to do with stuff like Alaistair Crowley and James Joyce as it does with pop music.
posted by empath at 7:51 AM on January 14, 2015 [2 favorites]


but he's not a bigamist

I said good day!
posted by billiebee at 7:53 AM on January 14, 2015 [18 favorites]


maybe we could do a timeshare thing
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 7:55 AM on January 14, 2015 [4 favorites]


The lyrics are clever and timeless, imo. Seems like it has as much to do with stuff like Alaistair Crowley and James Joyce as it does with pop music.

FWIW he specifically has cited Joyce as an influence... more specifically I think ...Artist As a Young Man (?)
posted by edgeways at 8:00 AM on January 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


Aw, that is great.
posted by LobsterMitten at 8:41 AM on January 14, 2015


Made me cry here in the office. That was fantastic - thank you.
posted by rtha at 8:44 AM on January 14, 2015


This is the only song I still love out of a handful of songs that are played WAY TOO MUCH right now on my radio station. Still hasn't gotten old. (But if I have to hear that sky full of stars Coldplay song or Riptide one more time...)
posted by geegollygosh at 8:45 AM on January 14, 2015


So great!
posted by Malla at 9:00 AM on January 14, 2015


It's the bit after he's done with his performance, where he is treated to the chorus by the choir, and he's in utter disbelief of what he is witnessing, and he is up in the stage lights and the sense of wonder on his face just keeps going...

Shit, the dust in here must be irritating my eyes.
posted by hippybear at 9:25 AM on January 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


So sweet.
posted by The corpse in the library at 9:29 AM on January 14, 2015


This is one of those stunts that could've backfired easily, but glad it didn't. That was very well done and sweet to see.
posted by MartinWisse at 9:42 AM on January 14, 2015


that's magnificent.
posted by blob at 9:47 AM on January 14, 2015


He was on (SLYT) Graham Norton's show with Meryl Streep, Mark Ruffalo and James MacAvoy the other week.
posted by GallonOfAlan at 9:50 AM on January 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


His reaction delighted me so much! I clasped my hands over my heart and may have squeaked.
posted by chatongriffes at 10:44 AM on January 14, 2015 [4 favorites]


There are moments when you're performing music with other people, and you get locked in to the sound of each other and...oh wow oh wow oh oh it's just the most overwhelming and beautiful thing.

I've experienced these moments playing in a few groups: in a string quartet in college, in a small choral group in high school, my jam band at the local dive bar...but by far the most transcendent thing I ever experienced was the one time I had the chance to sing in a gospel choir for a gospel version of Handel's Messiah.

I still remember, vividly, that moment when we all saind "like FIRE" while the soloist did her part. For a moment, I felt like I was the fire itself. It was the best thing ever.

Take me to church good god
posted by Doleful Creature at 11:18 AM on January 14, 2015 [6 favorites]


Yeah, "Take Me to Church" is a hell of a song. Despite its current ubiquity, I'm still not sick of it. Unlike a lot of top 40 music that starts to fade into the background with its sameyness, "Take Me to Church" demands attention with its passion and intensity.
posted by yasaman at 11:28 AM on January 14, 2015


Tres bon.
posted by TDavis at 1:12 PM on January 14, 2015


I seriously just tried to put that on in the background while working and could not take my eyes off it for the whole time.
posted by fiercecupcake at 1:33 PM on January 14, 2015 [2 favorites]


That Kiesza cover is awesome.
posted by bonehead at 1:38 PM on January 14, 2015


The Melodores also did an intense, blow the roof off acappella version on the Sing Off.
posted by yasaman at 1:55 PM on January 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


The Voice did kind of a heavy-metal take on it a few months ago.
posted by empath at 2:06 PM on January 14, 2015


For those who only know "Take Me To Church" and don't usually check out full albums, please please listen to the entirety of the self-titled record. Its all amazing. I can't stop listening to "Work Song" on repeat, and its starting to drive my wife nuts.
posted by Inkoate at 2:18 PM on January 14, 2015 [2 favorites]


Oh, that made me feel so good. He's so happy!
posted by Joey Michaels at 2:19 PM on January 14, 2015


I've been sitting here all day trying to think of who he reminds me of and I finally decided that I think it's Martin Sexton. There's a vibe there that's very Martin-y.
posted by rtha at 2:27 PM on January 14, 2015


> The Voice did kind of a heavy-metal take on it a few months ago

Oh dear. This is going to be the new "Hallelujah," isn't it?
posted by The corpse in the library at 2:38 PM on January 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


For example. But the weird thing is that it's Hozier singing -- it isn't a clueless cover.
posted by The corpse in the library at 2:42 PM on January 14, 2015


Oh man, the metal-ish covers are fairly awful. I wonder if Hozier himself had any say in the Victoria's Secret fashion show backing band, because not even a great vocal performance can save how schlocky those more metal arrangements are. The song does best with with minimal acoustic backing or going full blues/gospel.

I second Inkoate about the album being worth a listen. Some gorgeous bluesy songs on there, and Hozier's really got an amazing voice.
posted by yasaman at 3:17 PM on January 14, 2015


Now I really want him to record a version with a full gospel choir. Please make this happen.
posted by fiercecupcake at 7:25 AM on January 15, 2015


Hell YES this is the new Hallelujah. And why not? That's some universal shit right there.

...

Apologies in advance for the unsolicited essay...

I'm ok with this being the new Hallelujah. What a great thing that would be. It works on the same levels and for largely the same reson's the Leonard Cohen's song has had such staying power.

From a purely musical/compositional frame, neither Hozier's nor Cohen's signature songs are all that special. They are more or less standard pop affairs: coded with the the same rhythm-and-blues markers that are practically required for any modern popular song (see: pretty much every great pop song ever). And yet, just as Hallelujah has been reincarnated a million-billion fucking times, Take Me to Church is very likely to have the same fate.

So many pop songs are just one-note feelings:
1. Breaking Up
2. Getting Back Together
3. Being Totes Jealous
4. Getting Revenge on Shitheel Lover
5. Having Mad Crush/Unobtainable Lust
6. J/K Let's just DANCE/FUCK
7. You're So the Love of My Life oh Gawwwddd

And on and on. Take Me to Church is a little different, eh? There's maybe a little more to it. Just like Hallelujah. When we talk about these songs we inevitably toss around words like "literary", "poetic", "intense", "dark", "brooding", "poignant" blah blah blah. These are probably good descriptors, but I think what we're really trying to express, what draws folks to these kinds of songs, is this:

They give voice to a universal and deeply felt emotional conflict: that liminal space between hope and despair, faith and reality, a full cup and an empty stomach.

It's interesting to me that empath observed allusions to Crowley and Joyce, and others have mentioned the Joyce components too (not surprising considering Hozier is Irish). But for me, the first time I heard this song I was immediately reminded of John Donne --a poet famous for his penchant of blending the sacred and profane, of cataloging the ecstasies both religious and sexual-- particularly this poem:
THE DISSOLUTION.
by John Donne


SHE's dead ; and all which die
To their first elements resolve ;
And we were mutual elements to us,
And made of one another.
My body then doth hers involve,
And those things whereof I consist hereby
In me abundant grow, and burdenous,
And nourish not, but smother.
My fire of passion, sighs of air,
Water of tears, and earthly sad despair,
Which my materials be,
But near worn out by love's security,
She, to my loss, doth by her death repair.
And I might live long wretched so,
But that my fire doth with my fuel grow.

Now, as those active kings
Whose foreign conquest treasure brings,
Receive more, and spend more, and soonest break,
This —which I am amazed that I can speak—
This death, hath with my store
My use increased.
And so my soul, more earnestly released,
Will outstrip hers ; as bullets flown before

A latter bullet may o'ertake, the powder being more.
Source: Donne, John. Poems of John Donne. vol I. E. K. Chambers, ed. London: Lawrence & Bullen, 1896. 69. (emphasis mine)

To me that's what makes these oddly religious pop songs work so well. Strip out all the politics of religion, all the shit wars and awful history and dogmatic hatred, and get down into the existential grit of one person. What do you have? A longing for asbolution, for ecstasy, bitterly tempered by the ever-sharpening knife of reality, or as James Joyce called it, that “Ineluctable modality of the visible: at least that if no more, thought through my eyes.”

And that is why. That is why, my dear internet friends, I'm totally ok with this becoming "the next Hallelujah".
posted by Doleful Creature at 10:45 AM on January 15, 2015 [5 favorites]


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