ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED BY HEART EYES MAGAZINE.
As a girl who grew up on the bops “Like Whoa” and “Potential Break Up Song,” the news of Aly & AJ’s comeback thrilled me.
That being said, Aly & AJ have returned, but like the Jonas Brothers, they GREW UP. In their new single “Church,” Disney’s sweethearts break the mold in typical ex-Disney-star fashion. They just don’t take it as far as their pop predecessor Miley. With their EP Ten Years, Aly & AJ preserved the sound those of us in our 20s knew and loved. And the nostalgia hits hard.
But with “Church,” the pages start to turn. Now Aly & AJ are back, but they’ve got a confession. In a modern pop style, the Cow Belles are just as sweet vocally, but their message travels beyond youthful heartbreak. While retaining some of the synthesized influence from the previous era, Aly & AJ present past wounds with uncertainty.
“I do bad things for the sake of good times
I don’t, I don’t regret
Call me what you will
Yeah I’m in it for the thrill
I’m just, I’m just selfish
I need redemption
For sins I can’t mention
Too many nights and there’s no end
I’m hell bent, the reckless one
Too many nights I justified
All my casualties of love
For all the times I can’t reverse
For all the places where it hurts
The middle of church”
Wow, that’s a lot to unpack. And we’re less than a minute in.
They deny regret, but I think it might be a ruse. Is that why they do a double take (“I don’t, I don’t regret … I’m just, I’m just selfish”). There’s definitely some conflict here.
Throughout the rest of the song, we hear a lament. We may not know what sins they’re referring to, but we know that they’re looking for redemption in the midst of guilt and confusion.
In a world where guilt and conviction are seen as taboo, Aly & AJ look at themselves honestly and admit their imperfections without fully embracing them. Instead, they search for healing in a place that so many have overlooked in recent years — Church.
Without denying the unchangeable past, these sisters find solace in the present. In the middle of church. I applaud this bold move, especially in today’s world where religious institutions face criticism, scrutiny and even persecution.
Maybe you’ve come to the end of your rope. Maybe you’re looking for redemption in the midst of guilt that you just can’t seem to shake. Maybe we could all take advice from Aly & AJ.
You may have been hurt before. Possibly by well meaning or not-so-well meaning religious people. But when was the last time you found yourself in the middle of church? Aly & AJ seem to think it’s worth a try. I think so too.