Album: Single: “A Million Lights”
Artist: Michael W. Smith
Genre: Christian Contemporary
Label: Rocketown Records and The Fuel Music
Release Date: Aug 11, 2017
Standout Tracks: None
Back in August, Michael W. Smith released his new single “A Million Lights” to the world as a sampling of his new full-length album to be released early next year. We at Frequency tend to look out into the blogosphere, the industry, the other podcasts and gauge the response of consumers and industry experts, to get their take on new releases.
I’m sad to report, that there has been very little by way of review or response to the song. The reviews (which are all glowing 5 stars) on Amazon are not the type I’m talking about – they are effectively just copies of press releases. So where is the response to the song?
I (Dan), thought long and hard about whether to write a review. After all, it seems like the song has widespread acclaim and in Michael’s own words:
“I don’t recall being this excited about a single in a long time,” says Smith. “I’m very happy with how ‘A Million Lights’ has turned out and am anxious to get it from my studio out into the world! I believe the message of this song will be inspiring to everyone who hears it.”
So with all the grace I can muster and affection I hold for Michael as a fan going back to the early days, I’ll submit a quick, humble and honest review.
From a production perspective, I never have a criticism about Michael’s team’s ability to put out well-mastered material. With the bulk of the production being synth and sequencer-based tracks, it’s not overly difficult to do so. Even Michael’s signature voice is expected and spot on to what his fans will expect – albeit always maintaining an element of nasal weakness that is uniquely coupled with a natural vocal buzz.
Where things fall off the rails is in originality and lyrical content. The song, if written and released under any other name, would not have reached the critical acclaim or widespread success it seems to have achieved. Let’s be honest. Would it reach CCM radio? Absolutely. Why? Because it feels good, it sounds good and it challenges nothing.
Now to be fair, not all Christian music needs to pierce the heart and beat you into the reality of taking up our cross. But there’s not even a hint of Christ in this song. The lyrics blend into easy listening and inspirational like a pale colour on a Pinterest board. I believe consumers deserve better, deserve depth. And after multiple decades of songwriting and success, it’s appropriate for Smith to be a bit bold and take a few risks. Unfortunately, Michael has gone the other way, and I’m afraid he’ll be giving us an entire meal of what this sampler provided.
“Smitty” will always be loved and respected on many levels. He’s chosen his friendships and affiliations wisely. I just wish he had someone in the room that was prepared to challenge the “by the numbers” type of song in this release. Someone needs to ask: “What does this song even mean to the average listener?”
Give us better Michael. Challenge the listener to reflect on something more than gazing at the stars, lights, dancing and feeling.
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Disclosure of Material Connection: Frequency received this material free from artist or label to review. Frequency was not required to write a positive review. The opinions expressed are those of Frequency. We disclose this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”