Monday, 5 November 2012

Mary Mary 'Shackles (Praise You)'

Chart Peak: 5

Sisters Erica and Tina Atkins chose the name Mary Mary as a tribute to the two biblical Marys - Mary Magdalene and Mary, mother of Jesus... Formerly members of the cast of a travelling gospel show, Erica says their music is "about Jesus and telling people who He is and o his love. That's the whole purpose behind Mary Mary."
One of the key breakthrough acts from the controversial subgenre that is Urban Gospel, combining the sound of contemporary RnB or even hip-hop with Christian lyrical content. Within the world of Christian music, it's been a matter of debate to what extent these styles are acceptable vehicles for such sentiments (I presume the same arguments go on in the case of Christian metal music, but none of that's ever shown up on a Now album). Some years further into their career, the duo apparently sparked a major contretemps by working with secular RnB autotune singer T-Pain on a track. As an outsider, I don't really understand these arguments at all, but then they're not really my concern.

'Shackles' was their biggest brush with the mainstream, and their only single to make the US Top 40 (curiously, the follow-up did better over here, peaking at 32). Despite the widespread protestations of Delirious fans that the entire record industry is an anti-Christian conspiracy, this particular song had no difficulty getting airplay and was one of the biggest hits of the summer, suggesting that the failing of most explicitly Christian pop music is in its half-baked nature rather than any objection to the message itself. In fairness, it's probably the case that producer-led RnB is more adaptable than self-contained rock acts. This isn't a track I was ever particularly fond of but it sounds eminently comparable with secular hits of the era, which is a fair aim I suppose. Whether it converted anyone is another question, but somewhat beyond the remit here.

Available on: Thankful

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