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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Review: Pope Francis (yes, the actual Pope) dropped an album and it’s not bad

    San Paolo Multimedia

    Official album cover for Wake up!, an original album using the recordings of Pope Francis’s voice.

    Pope Francis has gotten huge amounts of attention since he assumed his position two years ago. From his recent visits to New York, Philadelphia and Washington D.C. to his rather liberal views for a pope, Francis has arguably attracted more attention and admiration than any pope has in a very long time. Riding off all of this recent attention, Pope Francis has pulled another PR stunt — this time, with music.

    The pope, along with a handful of producers, collaborated to create a pop and rock LP, Wake Up!, with Francis on vocals. The vocals aren’t original or recorded in a studio, though. They’re excepts from his recent speeches and prayers. Nonetheless, this project proves itself to be interesting, dramatic and, overall, quite entertaining for the religious and nonreligious alike.

    Unless a listener is fluent in Italian or Spanish, this album will probably be difficult to understand, but they can still enjoy its epic instrumentation and interesting use of the pope’s speeches.

    The opening track on this LP is synonymous with the beginning of Francis’ career — it is from his first meeting in the central loggia of St. Peter’s Basilica, back in 2013. This track sets the tone for the record with its awe-inspiring, rising string section, synths and the sound of crowds roaring during the pope’s speech in the background. It is clear that the producers of this record really wanted to capture the grandness and magnificence of the pope, and the way he is able to captivate people, much like a rock band would in a live setting.

    The next three tracks, “Salve Regina,” “Cuidar el Planeta” and “La Iglesia No Puede Ser una ONG!” continue the theme of epic and lavish instrumentals on the album with apparent inspiration from Spanish and South American music. “Salve Regina” includes the pope speaking to young people in Argentina, his home country, backed by flutes, synths, bongos and backing vocals.

    “Cuidar el Planeta,” which takes vocals from one of the pope’s speeches in Rome, has very Spanish-inspired instrumentation as well, with guitars, bongos and Spanish backing vocals. Although this might be an attempt by the pope and other musicians to simply make money, it is evident that a tremendous amount of effort and thought went into this record.

    Wake Up!’s only English song, “Wake Up! Go! Go! Forward!” definitely gives off a stadium rock vibe. Guitar riffs and a drum beat slowly sink into triumphant horns while Francis urges young people to be vigilant and resist sin. Towering vocals proceed his fervent words.

    It’s curious just how well these instrumentals and backing vocals mesh with Francis’ gentle voice and calm demeanor. Despite some of the instrumental loudness and the amount going on musically in each track, Francis still remains at the forefront. While this was probably the intention of the producers, they do a fantastic job clearing the way for the pope to speak, while still adding lavish and creative instrumentation to this record.

    The album concludes with “Fazei o Que Ele Vos Disser!” The track includes a string section that is quietly — yet dramatically — performing under Francis’ voice, and finishes with a gorgeous choir. It is a very soft, yet intense touch to the end of this record.

    This album serves as a strange hallmark in Francis’ career. While he will most definitely be remembered for his speeches, calm disposition and unconventional views, he will also somewhat be remembered as the first pope to drop the hottest mixtape.

    While this album was very out of the ordinary and much of the time difficult to review, you have to give the guy credit — a lot of work went into this album. The instrumentation is grandiose but the VIP, Pope Francis, remains front and center. This album is spiritual, loud and has the capacity to resonate with Catholics and atheists alike.

    Rating: B+

    Follow Paul Barlyn on Twitter.

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