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Pope Benedict’s New Album—Already a Missed Opportunity?

August 1, 2009

News that Pope Benedict XVI has signed with Geffen Records is stirring the music industry months ahead of his album’s planned November release. The album will feature Benedict’s chants and prayers scattered among eight original pieces, to be written by composers of different religious faiths and performed by London’s Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.

Especially because some proceeds from the album will be used to advance music education for underserved children around the world, it’s a fine project that I fully endorse. However, I fear that Benedict’s coterie of producers and label reps are missing an opportunity to reach out to an even wider audience by not following the Carlos Santana model of career resurrection (pun fully intended).

Let’s turn the clock back ten years to the summer of 1999. I was working in a chain record store at the time, so I witnessed firsthand just how many people went apeshit over Santana’s Supernatural, an album of duets with then-relevant pop stars including Dave Matthews, Wyclef Jean, Lauryn Hill, and Rob Thomas. The Santana/Thomas collaboration “Smooth” was one of the year’s biggest singles. It was also mutually beneficial, in that it boosted Rob Thomas’s credibility (or might have, except we all know what happens when you multiply any number by zero), and enhanced Santana’s commercial appeal.

A decade later, why not apply the same thinking to the Pope’s album? I’m not suggesting the same pairings arranged for Santana, mind you—after all, I’d hate to pull Rob Thomas off the casino-and-state-fair tour circuit, and I’m guessing Wyclef Jean is pretty busy harvesting copper from abandoned construction projects in Florida.

Instead, Benedict should of course pair with some of today’s biggest stars. Everyone will benefit. The Pope will reach an expanded demographic, and the morally flexible pop icons might make their eventual duet with The Man Upstairs a little more harmonious.

So here’s a proposed track list. Benedict sings with:

1. Britney Spears—“By Being a Womanizer, You’re Violating Several Papal Edicts”

2. Katy Perry—“Under Satan’s Evil Influence, I Kissed a Girl”

3. John Mayer—“Waiting on the World to Change, Except for the Whole Tolerating Homosexuality Thing, Which is Not Negotiable”

4. Mariah Carey—“Why You So Obsessed with Me When You Should Be Obsessed with Jesus?”

5. Beyonce—“If You Like It, That Means You’ve Had Premarital Sex, a Mortal Sin that Can’t Be Absolved Simply by Putting a Ring on It”

6. Coldplay—“I May Be 80 Years Old, But I Can Still Kick Your Weenie Ass” (Benedict vs. Chris Martin rap battle)

7. Chris Brown—“Kiss Kiss the Ring ‘Cause He’s the Pope”

8. Kenny Chesney—“She Thinks My Mitre’s Sexy”

9. Kelly Clarkson—“I Do Not Hook Up, a Pledge of Abstinence That Greatly Pleases the Holy Father”

10. Puff Daddy—“I’ll Be Missing You 2009” (for Biggie and John Paul II)

It’s clearly a can’t-miss proposition. Come on, David Geffen—make it happen. The kids are counting on you.

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4 Comments
  1. Caleb permalink
    August 1, 2009 10:29 pm

    What about a duet with Kid Rock? “Twitter is Gay and Headin’ Straight To Hell”?

  2. fieldengrey permalink
    August 2, 2009 8:22 pm

    Awesome stuff!

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