The Song: Lost by Coldplay and Jay Z
Main Point of Discussion: In this life, we should live for the approval of God, rather than for the approval from men.
Vital Info Before You Get Started: The following info should help you contextualize this very popular song so you can have a great discussion about it with your kids.
- IMPORTANT NOTE TO PARENTS: We at The Source for Youth Ministry believe that certain elements in our youth culture can serve as good discussion jump starters with students. At the same time, we would never hope to introduce teens to a negative influence that they haven’t already encountered. This balance is a delicate one. In our experience most teens, churched and unchurched, keep pretty current with music and music videos like this one. Thanks to YouTube, MTV.com, and iTunes, the most popular music videos and songs are free to access only a click away. If you decide to use this, do so by catering it to fit your family’s needs.
- This duet features two titans of the music industry, Coldplay and Jay Z. Jay Z has sold 50 million records worldwide throughout his career and holds the record for most number one albums by a solo artist. Coldplay may not have been as active within the past year or so, but they have still sold around 60 million records during their career and their 2012 Mylo Xyloto tour was the 4th highest-grossing tour that year. So although this song is a few years old (2009), it combines two artists who most teenagers are probably familiar with.
- Lost+ is a song that reflects on the fleeting nature and pitfalls of success as the world’s defines it. It shows the elusive nature of living for things like fame, fortune, or the approval of others. The two artists say that once they arrive where they thought they wanted to be, “the shine wears off.” Then they encounter attacks and criticism from others, or someone “bigger” and better comes along.
PLEASE NOTE: True to form, Jay-Z uses some profanity in his rap. He uses the word s**t and ni**a in the music video, which can be found. There are edited versions online which can be found here: https://vimeo.com/72363565
Edited from bmcvideoproductions on Vimeo.
Introducing the Song:
Jay-Z has been everywhere recently, especially since he released his new album Magna Carta in July. He’s been on TV, in advertisements, on the radio, and at the top of the charts. The song I want us to listen to right now is actually a duet with superstar music group, Coldplay. These two artists are some of the most successful artists of our time. Together they have sold well over 100 million records and made untold amounts of money. They are the definition of success in the way that the world defines it. In light of that though, I think this song has some interesting and surprising things to say about fame and success. Let’s watch together.
The Music Video:
The music video can be found online here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kGl6KK90kbc
Just because I’m losing
Doesn’t mean I’m lost!
Doesn’t mean I’ll stop
Doesn’t mean I’m across
Doesn’t mean I’m hurt
Doesn’t mean I don’t get what I deserved
No better and no worse
I just got lost
Every river that I tried to cross
Every door I ever tried was locked
Oh and I’m just waiting ‘til the shine wears off
You might be a big fish
In a little pond
Doesn’t mean you’ve won
‘Cause a long may come
A bigger one
And you’ll be lost
Every river that you tried to cross
Every gun you ever held went off
Oh and I’m just waiting until the firing stopped
Oh and I’m just waiting ‘til the shine wears off
Aha, I gotcha, uh…
With the same sword they knight you, they gon’ good night you with
Sh*t, That’s only half if they like you
That ain’t even the half what they might do
Don’t believe me, ask Michael
See Martin, see Malcolm
See Biggie, see Pac, see success and its outcome
See Jesus, see Judas
See Caesar, see Brutus, see success is like suicide
Suicide, it’s a suicide
If you succeed, prepare to be crucified
Media meddles, ni**az sue you, you settle
Every step you take, they remind you you’re ghetto
So it’s tough being Bobby Brown
To be Bobby then, you have to be Bobby now
And the question is, “Is to have had and lost
Better than not having at all?”
Oh and I’m, just waiting ‘til the shine wears off
Oh and I’m, just waiting ‘til the shine wears off
Three Simple Questions (with Answers You May Be Looking for):
Q: What was the main message in Coldplay and Jay-Z’s song?
A: Their main message was that fame is fleeting. They are constantly trying to please their fans and this world, but they never can. The shine wears off. Something else or someone else comes along that’s bigger and better than them, and they have to start all over.
Q: In his rap section, Jay-Z complains, “If you succeed, prepare to be crucified.” Why does he think that’s the case?
A: Jay-Z knows what it’s like to be at the top, for sure. But he also knows what it’s like to suffer criticism. There are plenty of people who do not like his work, and plenty of people who love it but are impatient with him while he’s creating new music. In essence, Jay-Z is saying, “It’s tough at the top. Prepare yourself for torture if you’re chasing fame.”
Q: It’s pretty clear that Jay-Z and Coldplay were singing about their attempts to be successful, to win over the approval of others. Why is it so difficult to get AND KEEP the approval of others?
A: Mainly because so many of us are so fickle. We like one thing one day, but not the next. Then, there are 300 million fans, each with his or her own preferences. Pleasing that many people on a continual basis is a tough job.
Where to Take It from Here:
Wherever it feels natural. If these questions lead to a longer discussion on the topic, wonderful! (There’s a guide just after this paragraph that helps you do just that.) If your kids are barely uttering grunts, don’t get discouraged—the next time it feels right, try out another song. Keep engaging them.
For Deeper Discussion: (If your kids seem into diving in deeper, the following discussion guide can help take you there.)
CLICK HERE if you want to look at a quick training article on small groups and drawing questions out of young people—you may find much of the information applicable as you go through this subject with your family members.
From listening to this song, it sounds like being famous and popular may not be as great as it is made out to be. In fact, if we look at the lyrics, Jay-Z even likens success to suicide. Wow! That’s probably not what you and I would have called it. But we should probably listen to him; after all, he’s had plenty of success. He should know exactly how fleeting it is to try and stay at the top. Coldplay says it’s tough; a bigger fish is always bound to come along. So, let’s not adopt the mindset of the world when it comes to success. In this life, we should live for the approval of God, rather than for the approval from men. Let’s discuss this some more as we look at a Bible passage on the topic.
More Discussion Questions:
- HAVE ALL YOUR FAMILY MEMBERS ANSWER: As we get started, let’s all take a second to talk about a time when we were torn down by somebody.
- ASK A FEW FAMILY MEMBERS: Do you think the idea behind the song is true—that our society tries to tear down people who are successful? Why or why not?
- ASK A FEW FAMILY MEMBERS: Do you know someone who is really successful or good at what they do, for example, a doctor, a teacher, an athlete, an artist, etc? If so, do you know if they are plagued with always trying to be better to please others?
- ASK A FEW FAMILY MEMBERS: What is the difference between seeking the approval of men and seeking the approval of God? Which is easier?
Read the following passage from the Bible:
- 1 Thessalonians 2:1-7
You know, brothers and sisters, that our visit to you was not without results. 2 We had previously suffered and been treated outrageously in Philippi, as you know, but with the help of our God we dared to tell you his gospel in the face of strong opposition. 3 For the appeal we make does not spring from error or impure motives, nor are we trying to trick you. 4 On the contrary, we speak as those approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel. We are not trying to please people but God, who tests our hearts. 5 You know we never used flattery, nor did we put on a mask to cover up greed—God is our witness. 6 We were not looking for praise from people, not from you or anyone else, even though as apostles of Christ we could have asserted our authority. 7 Instead, we were like young children among you.
NOTE: At this point, Paul had travelled to numerous cities, preaching the message of Christ and ministering to the Churches. Paul had certainly reached a lot of people for Christ and had seen a lot of success in ministry, but he had also faced a lot of opposition.
- ASK A FEW FAMILY MEMBERS: From reading this passage, what kinds of things did people accuse Paul of? (Parents – He was accused of being deceitful, that his message “sprung from error,” that he was seeking praise from others, that he was using the church for his own greed, etc.)
- ASK A FEW FAMILY MEMBERS: How does Paul respond to these accusations? (HINT: Pay close attention to verses 4 and 6.)
- ASK A FEW FAMILY MEMBERS: Why does Paul say He seeks to please God rather than people?
- AROUND THE CIRCLE: Do you think most of the decisions you make are for the approval of God or for the approval of other people? Why or why not?
- ASK A FEW FAMILY MEMBERS: What are some examples of ways we can please God?
- ASK A FEW: How different would your life look if you cared more about what God thought of you than you did about what other people thought of you?
- HAVE ALL YOUR FAMILY MEMBERS ANSWER: How will you seek to please God more than people in the coming week?
People can be really fickle sometimes. It’s very interesting that Jay Z, possibly one of the most popular musicians in all of history, is talking about how easily people turn against you and how you can be attacked for being successful.
Most of us probably have a few really good friends in your life who would stick by us no matter what, but there are many people who may claim to be our friends one day and then turn on us the next, and they may even tear us down for doing what’s right.
We may be living for popularity above all else and really want other people to like us at school. It may be that we want for a certain group to accept us, or maybe we long above all else for a certain person (maybe a particular boy or girl) to like us. It’s normal to want people to like you, so that isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but if we start to live for the acceptance of others above the acceptance of God, it can lead us to make some really bad choices.
This song and the Bible passage we read warn us is that if we are living for things like popularity or others’ acceptance, it’s like chasing after the wind. Even if we are successful for a moment in gaining these things, some of these people may turn on you, betray you, or hurt you.
That’s why Chris Martin, the Coldplay singer, says he’s “just waiting for the shine to wear off.” He is someone who has achieved fame, riches, and popularity, but he knows that one day the allure will wear off. He knows that eventually, people may turn against him, or attack him, or they may just forget about him altogether.
We can spend our lives chasing things like popularity, success, or money, but if we live for anything or anyone other than Jesus Christ, eventually the shine will wear off. People will come and go in our lives but the one thing that remains—the one thing that is eternal—is our relationship with God.
This doesn’t mean that it is wrong to care about other people’s opinions or that we should have no regard for others. What it means though, is that we will face criticism in this life at some point. If we are going to face it, we should face it for doing good rather than for doing evil. It also means we should never compromise our values in order to please other people.
It means we should live our life with the goal of pleasing God, who judges our hearts, above all else. Let’s pray and ask God to help us do that for Him.
Close in Prayer