Plugged In exists to shine a light on the world of popular entertainment while giving you and your family the essential tools you need to understand, navigate and impact the culture in which we live. Through reviews, articles and discussions, we want to spark intellectual thought, spiritual growth and a desire to follow the command of Colossians 2:8: "See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ."


Family uses Plugged In as a ‘significant compass’

"I am at a loss for words to adequately express how much it means to my husband and me to know that there is an organization like Focus that is rooting for us. Just today I was reading Psalm 37 and thinking about how your ministry provides ways to 'dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.' We have two teenagers and an 8-year-old in our household...Plugged In has become a significant compass for our family. All three of our kids are dedicated to their walk with Christ but they still encounter challenges. Thanks for all of your research and persistence in helping us navigate through stormy waters."

Plugged In helps college student stand-up for his belief

"Thanks for the great job you do in posting movie and television reviews online. I’m a college freshman and I recently had a confrontational disagreement with my English professor regarding an R-rated film. It is her favorite movie and she wanted to show it in class. I went to your Web site to research the film’s content. Although I had not seen the movie myself, I was able to make an educated argument against it based on the concerns you outlined. The prof said that she was impressed by my stand and decided to poll the whole class and give us a choice. We overwhelmingly voted to watch a G-rated movie instead! I’ve learned that I can trust your site and I will be using it a lot in the future.”

Plugged In brings ‘Sanity and Order’ to Non-believer

“Even though I don’t consider myself a Christian, I find your Plugged In Web site useful and thought-provoking. No one reviews movies like you do. Instead of being judgmental, you put entertainment ‘on trial.’ After presenting the evidence, you allow the jury of your readers to decide for themselves what they should do. In my opinion, you bring sanity and order to the wild world of modern day entertainment. Keep up the good work!”

Mom thinks Plugged In is the ‘BEST Christian media review site’

"Our family doesn't go to the movies until we go online and check out your assessment of a given film. I think this is the BEST Christian media review website that I've found, and I recommend it to my family and friends. Keep up the good work!"


Our hope is that whether you're a parent, youth leader or teen, the information and tools at Plugged In will help you and your family make appropriate media decisions. We are privileged to do the work we do, and are continually thankful for the generosity and support from you, our loyal readers, listeners and friends.

We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

Album Review

British singer Ellie Goulding defies quick categorization. Her first hit in the U.S., " Lights," bears witness to the influence of the ever-burgeoning electronic dance music scene. But pop sensibilities shine through as well. And that, no doubt, is the reason the song spent more than a year in the Hot 100, peaking at No. 2.

Now, though, listening to her EDM-infused sophomore effort, Halcyon, it becomes equally apparent that Goulding's elfin, ethereal style has as much in common with Björk, Dido or Florence Welch as it does Carly Rae Jepsen or Katy Perry (with whom Goulding recently toured). The singer told papermag.com, "People try to put me into different categories, but maybe I'm not in one."

Chalk that up to Goulding's voice, an instrument that mysteriously embodies fierce and fragile all at once. It's definitely not the kind of female voice we're used to hearing on the radio. Instead, it's a slight, plaintive wisp of a thing—especially when she modulates into her specter-like falsetto. The overall effect is one of naked vulnerability, a sensation so strong at times you want to look away out of modesty as Halcyon unceasingly unpacks Goulding's feelings of loss and abandonment.

Positive Elements

Spiritual Content

Sexual Content

Violent Content

Crude or Profane Language

Drug and Alcohol Content

Other Negative Elements


Pro-social Content

On "My Blood," Goulding grabs onto the fact that a breakup isn't going to kill her and healing is possible: "And God knows I'm not dying/But I breathe now/And God knows it's the only way to heal now." A line on "Joy"—an emotion she definitely isn't feeling while singing it—admits that perhaps she's looking for that emotion in the wrong places: "I've figured out that joy is not in your arms."

The aching "I Know You Care" is reportedly a song in which Goulding tries to come to terms with her father having abandoned her family when she was 5, a father she hasn't seen since. "Clinging to me/Like the last breath you would breathe/You were like home to me," she begins. "I used to run down the stairs/To the door when I thought you were there." But despite his abandonment, she strives to give him the benefit of the doubt ("I know you care") and stoke the flame of hope that perhaps there might yet be reconciliation ("But I still hope/'Cause this is how things ought to have been/And I know the worst of us wasn't all that it seemed").

"Explosions" wishes a former flame well ("I pray that you will find peace of mind/And I'll find you another time"). That song also features Ellie coming to grips with fear as she reassures herself (and us) that, "It's OK to be afraid."

Objectionable Content

Much more often than not, Goulding seems submerged in the bewildering, disorienting emotions that accompany her losses. On "Explosions," for instance, we hear, "You left my soul bleeding in the dark/ … And I've lost faith in everything." "My Blood" metaphorically compares a breakup to bleeding on a rocky ocean shore: "I'm caught in the crossfire/Of my own thoughts/The color of my blood/Is all I see on the rocks/As you sail from me/ … My blood is all I see as you steal my soul from me." It's a loss, she insists, that she'll feel forever: "Alarms will ring for eternity/ … My bones will bleach, my flesh will flee."

"Only You" longs for fulfillment in a relationship that instead leaves the singer feeling empty: "Only you can see the emptiness I feel when you're with me." Meanwhile, "Halcyon" laments, "I know you're a fighter/But you never fought for me/When I was a shelter/And you're not heading home to me/ … I take your hand for you to let it go/Let it go/Let it go." And on "Joy," she sings, "I know I'll always ache with an empty heart/ … I think of dying all the time/ … Fear is my favorite ride." "Atlantis" observes grimly, "I'm dead in the water/Still looking for you/I'm dead in the water/Can't see you/Can't see you."

"Hanging On" implies that a failing relationship still contains an unhealthy element of physical intimacy ("Touch me and then turn away"). "Don't Say a Word" could be interpreted as a desperate attempt to heal a relationship not with talking, but with sex: "I'm more alive, I've ever been/So now I give you all my sins/I've chosen you, I've chosen you/But don't say a word." Elsewhere on the song, she begs, "Won't you come, won't you come/Won't you come, just don't say a word."

"Anything Could Happen" relates this sensual memory: "Stripped to the waist/We fall into the river/Cover your eyes/So you don't know the secret/I've been trying to hide."

Summary Advisory

The bio on Ellie Goulding's website includes this summary of Halcyon's emotional subject matter: "Capturing a period of profound change and transition in Ellie's life, Halcyon is, despite the mournful nature of much of its inspiration, ultimately a redemptive album."

I think that assessment is half right. There are isolated moments in which it seems Goulding might be gaining redemptive perspective on the soul-wrenching losses she sings about in nearly every song. More often, though, mournful feels like a more accurate descriptor.

Goulding's undeniably haunting voice narrates her grief-filled journey, one in which she struggles to find any bearings at all to help her traverse that dark path safely and successfully. "You show me what it feels like to be lost," she confesses to a departed lover on the title track.

I'd argue that much if not most of this album does exactly the same for listeners wading through the deceptively placid waters of Halcyon.

Plot Summary

Christian Beliefs

Other Belief Systems

Authority Roles



Discussion Topics

Additional Comments/Notes

Episode Reviews



Readability Age Range







Debuted at No. 9.

Record Label





October 9, 2012

On Video

Year Published



Adam R. Holz

We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

Get weekly e-news, Culture Clips & more!