WHY WE CARE


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."

YOUR STORIES


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!"

SUPPORT THE WORK OF PLUGGED IN

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

What does Kelly Clarkson's eighth studio album sound like? I'm going to let her answer that question: "What if Aretha [Franklin] was born now and made a record today?"

Meaning of Life is Clarkson's first album since leaving RCA, the label where she'd spent her entire career. Her newfound professional freedom finds her embracing a soul-meets-gospel vibe that's a far cry from her pop-rock anthems of the past.

Clarkson acknowledges the stylistic shift is risky. "It definitely is still a harder sell than 'Since U Been Gone 2.0,'" she told the New York Times. But the 35-year-old married mother of two said, "I wanted to make a record that I could really sing the [expletive] out of." Indeed, Clarkson's huge voice fills the 14 tracks on this album, songs that sway thematically between exalting the power of love and lamenting when it sometimes goes missing.

Positive Elements

Spiritual Content

Sexual Content

Violent Content

Crude or Profane Language

Drug and Alcohol Content

Other Negative Elements

Conclusion

Pro-social Content

The title track celebrates love's ability to provide light, hope and courage: "When you hold me, I finally see/ … I was broke down, so alone in the dark/Until you showed me the light/… You lift me up." Gospel-esque "Move You" longs to impact her beloved's heart: "Like a sunrise on a mountain/I wanna move you like that/ … Like a solemn hallelujah/Like a choir shouts, 'Amen!/ … I wanna move you like that." "Whole Lotta Woman" namechecks Tina Turner and brims with self-confidence.

"Love So Soft" longs for security and permanence: "But I need, need to know/Will you protect me, respect me if I let you close?" Later, Clarkson adds, "If you want this love, got to hold it tight/Never let it go, baby, let it give you life." "Slow Dance" clearly establishes firm physical boundaries: "I'm not goin' home with you tonight/But you can hold my hand/And we can take it slow."

"Heat" challenges a guy whose romantic attentiveness has grown dull to up his game: "You used to make me feel like a diamond/Now it don't even seem like you're tryin'/ … So, come on, love me/Better than that." "Didn't I" also contrasts levels of commitment in a tough relationship, with Clarkson insisting that she's given everything she's got to make it work.

"Medicine," meanwhile, finds the singer playing the part of a woman who's decided to cut her romantic losses, telling her ex, "I ain't even thinkin' 'bout you/ … You ain't my medicine." We get almost a word-for-word reprise of that idea in "I Don't Even Think About You," in which Clarkson also says her hardships helped her mature: "I feel freedom where I stand now/ … I love the woman that I became." "Would You Call That Love" confronts an ex regarding his self-centered behaviors. And "Don't You Pretend" confronts a guy's unwillingness to take an emotional risk: "I want the real thing or nothing at all."

"Cruel" explores yet another tough romance, one in which a woman is pouring every ounce of her energy into making it work: "It's takin' all of me to love someone like you." She realizes, "I love you, but I'm losing myself in this runaround." Then she asks, "Am I being jealous? Are you being selfish."

"A Minute (Intro)" voices sentiments that will likely resonate with harried moms and wives everywhere: "Sometimes I need a minute just for me/I need a minute just to be." Album closer "Go High" offers a final dose of determination: "But I won't give up/I will keep giving love/… I never give up."

Objectionable Content

Several songs flirt with mildly suggestive lyrics, albeit without ever getting too racy. On "Love So Soft," Clarkson coos, "Every kiss is a door/Can I knock on yours?/Can we knock a little more?" That's followed by, "If a touch is a key/Keep on twisting, keep on locking, keep on turning me." The chorus teases, "Got you hooked, now you're caught up/Love so soft, so soft." Similarly, "Heat" tells a partner whose ardor has cooled, "I need more heat from you, baby/Make me feel weak for you, baby."

There's more of the same in "Whole Lotta Woman," as Clarkson sings, "Woo, woo, I'm a lover/Hold on tight now, little country boy/I ain't no girl, I'm a boss with orders." Three times in the song, that self-assurance blends with profanity as she repeats, "I'm a strong, bad-ss chick with classic confidence, yeah." (Two other songs include profanities, one use each of "d--n" and one of "bulls---.")

Another passing reference to physical intimacy in a former relationship turns up in "Medicine": "Your touch don't heal me now." Clarkson also employs drug-related imagery in that song when she tells a former flame, "Ya' can't get me high/Never got me lit." In "Cruel," it's questionable whether a woman who stays with a guy who keeps staying out until "1, 2, 3:00 o'clock" in the morning is admirably faithful or delusionally foolish, especially given her suspicions that he may be cheating ("I wanna believe you, but I wonder if you're all alone").

Summary Advisory

Pop culture often traps young female performers in a state of arrested development, one in which they (perhaps unwittingly) embrace the notion that their sexuality and their identity are interchangeable.

But some performers see that trap for what it is and extricate themselves from it. (Alanis Morrissette, for instance, and even Miley Cyrus is taking some baby steps in that direction too). Others, meanwhile, seem stubbornly determined to ignore the reality that their appeal at 60 or 70 isn't what it was when they were young, edgy cultural icons. (Madonna and Cher come to mind.)

Kelly Clarkson definitely isn't afraid to play with a saucy innuendo or two, and several show up here (as do a couple unfortunate profanities). That said, those moments are generally framed in a bigger relational context, one in which she often talks about her desire for emotional intimacy and permanent fidelity.

Those content bumps in the road here will need to be navigated for younger listeners. Then again, I'm not sure that younger listeners comprise the primary audience that an unabashedly maturing Kelly Clarkson is aiming at these days.

Plot Summary

Christian Beliefs

Other Belief Systems

Authority Roles

Profanity/Violence

Kissing/Sex/Homosexuality

Discussion Topics

Additional Comments/Notes

Episode Reviews

Credits

Rating

Readability Age Range

Genre

PopR&B

Author

Cast

Director

Distributor

Network

Performance

Topped iTunes' album chart.

Record Label

Atlantic

Platform

Publisher

Released

October 27, 2017

On Video

Year Published

Awards

Reviewer

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!