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Track Review

Is marriage dead?

If you type that question into Google, you'll find scores of recent articles suggesting that this cherished, God-ordained institution is, if not quite dead yet, at least very ill. More and more couples are opting out of formal vows and into loose cohabitation arrangements. Esteem for the traditional view of marriage has clearly taken a cultural torpedo.

But it seems no one told the Canadian musicians who make up Magic! The Toronto-based reggae fusion band's first hit sports lyrics even more retro-cool than the band's intentional copping of The Police sound. Here's the premise: A man in love with a woman asks for her dad's blessing … and doesn't get it, receiving instead a "rude" rejection. Though he longs for his future father-in-law's approval, he longs to be married to his beloved even more. And so the happy couple goes through with their plans despite the parental pushback.

Through all of this, our intrepid, matrimonial-minded mister is the very picture of earnest intentionality: "Saturday morning, jumped out of bed/And put on my best suit/Got in my car and raced like a jet/All the way to you." The you here, as we soon discover, is Daddy-not-quite-dearest. "Knocked on the door with heart in my hand/To ask you a question/'Cause I know that you're an old-fashioned man, yeah." Then comes the question that should come before popping the question: "Can I have your daughter for the rest of my life?/Say yes, say yes, 'cause I need to know."

How could the older guy say no to that? Well, despite such a sincere, submissive attitude, there's no patriarchal blessing to be had on this day … or any other day in the future, it would seem: "I'll never get your blessing 'til the day I die/Tough luck, my friend, but the answer is no."


Smarting from that door-slamming shut down, our wounded wedding-seeker warbles out this chorus: "Why you gotta be so rude? Don't you know I'm human too?/Why you gotta be so rude?/I'm gonna marry her anyway." Gathering strength of will as he goes along, he then adds, "Yeah, no matter what you say/Marry that girl/And we'll be a family/I hate to do this, you leave no choice/Can't live without her/Love me or hate me, we will both be standing at the altar/Or we will run away/To another galaxy, you know/You know she's in love with me/She will go anywhere I go."

That last bit sounds downright biblical, summoning thoughts of leaving and cleaving and other such sage directives. And while you could argue this case from the side of the parent—condemning the young man for rushing forward and "recklessly" plunging ahead with his matrimonial plans in defiance of the young lady's father—that would be a mighty hard position to defend considering the facts at hand. 1) He wants to get married. 2) He wants to stay married. 3) He cares enough to ask his rude would-be wife's dad for his blessing.

That makes this just about the most pro-marriage mainstream pop song I've heard in a long time … maybe ever.

In a culture that's largely shrugged out of wedlock and into something much less committed and more self-serving—namely, cohabiting until you don't feel like living together any more—Magic! has served up a song that's all about the age-old institution's attraction and value. And that's worth celebrating … even if one rude dude can't quite get his head around it and tries to squelch all the hope and joy a white dress and a black tie can bring.

Onscreen, in the song's video, Magic! proffers a pretty literal interpretation, with lead singer Nasri playing the part of the would-be groom begging for a blessing. He repeatedly goes to her house to make his humble request, and he's repeatedly rebuffed by a very business-like man who's intent upon setting his daughter up with another—more suitably coiffed—young suitor.

The visual downsides? Images subtly imply that the couple may be sneaking nights together before their big day. And the bride-to-be dons a sexy, midriff-baring outfit to go out.

In the end, the groom and his bride marry in a dance-filled and joyous celebration of their love with the band tagging along and playing along, doing everything they can to elevate a union that the dour dad still won't bless. Given how determined the song's protagonist has been, that will likely be his own loss.

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Hit No. 1.

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February 24, 2014

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Adam R. Holz

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