The Sounds of Fundamentalism: Evangelical Beckah Shae Turns Ed Sheeran’s “Shape of You” Into a “Worship” Song

beckah shae

This is the one hundred and sixty-seventh installment in The Sounds of Fundamentalism series. This is a series that I would like readers to help me with. If you know of a video clip that shows the crazy, cantankerous, or contradictory side of Evangelical Christianity, please send me an email with the name or link to the video. Please do not leave suggestions in the comment section.  Let’s have some fun!

Today’s Sound of Fundamentalism is a video clip of a Christian artist Beckah Shae singing a reworded version of Ed Sheeran’s song, Shape of You.

Video Link

Here’s the Ed Sheeran’s version of Shape of You.

Video Link

Lyrics

[Verse 1]
The club isn’t the best place to find a lover
So the bar is where I go
Me and my friends at the table doing shots
Drinking fast and then we talk slow
And you come over and start up a conversation with just me
And trust me I’ll give it a chance now
Take my hand, stop, put Van the Man on the jukebox
And then we start to dance, and now I’m singing like

[Pre-Chorus]
Girl, you know I want your love
Your love was handmade for somebody like me
Come on now, follow my lead
I may be crazy, don’t mind me
Say, boy, let’s not talk too much
Grab on my waist and put that body on me
Come on now, follow my lead
Come, come on now, follow my lead

[Chorus]
I’m in love with the shape of you
We push and pull like a magnet do
Although my heart is falling too
I’m in love with your body
And last night you were in my room
And now my bed sheets smell like you
Every day discovering something brand new
I’m in love with your body
Oh—I—oh—I—oh—I—oh—I
I’m in love with your body
Oh—I—oh—I—oh—I—oh—I
I’m in love with your body
Oh—I—oh—I—oh—I—oh—I
I’m in love with your body
Every day discovering something brand new
I’m in love with the shape of you

[Verse 2]
One week in we let the story begin
We’re going out on our first date
You and me are thrifty, so go all you can eat
Fill up your bag and I fill up a plate
We talk for hours and hours about the sweet and the sour
And how your family is doing okay
Leave and get in a taxi, then kiss in the backseat
Tell the driver make the radio play, and I’m singing like

[Pre-Chorus]
Girl, you know I want your love
Your love was handmade for somebody like me
Come on now, follow my lead
I may be crazy, don’t mind me
Say, boy, let’s not talk too much
Grab on my waist and put that body on me
Come on now, follow my lead
Come, come on now, follow my lead

[Chorus]
I’m in love with the shape of you
We push and pull like a magnet do
Although my heart is falling too
I’m in love with your body
And last night you were in my room
And now my bed sheets smell like you
Every day discovering something brand new
I’m in love with your body
Oh—I—oh—I—oh—I—oh—I
I’m in love with your body
Oh—I—oh—I—oh—I—oh—I
I’m in love with your body
Oh—I—oh—I—oh—I—oh—I
I’m in love with your body
Every day discovering something brand new
I’m in love with the shape of you

[Bridge]
Come on, be my baby, come on
Come on, be my baby, come on
Come on, be my baby, come on
Come on, be my baby, come on
Come on, be my baby, come on
Come on, be my baby, come on
Come on, be my baby, come on
Come on, be my baby, come on

[Chorus]
I’m in love with the shape of you
We push and pull like a magnet do
Although my heart is falling too
I’m in love with your body
Last night you were in my room
And now my bed sheets smell like you
Every day discovering something brand new
I’m in love with your body
Come on, be my baby, come on
Come on, be my baby, come on
I’m in love with your body
Come on, be my baby, come on
Come on, be my baby, come on
I’m in love with your body
Come on, be my baby, come on
Come on, be my baby, come on
I’m in love with your body
Every day discovering something brand new
I’m in love with the shape of you

HT: Pulpit & Pen

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20 Comments

  1. ObstacleChick

    She does have a beautiful voice, and this is creative. Too bad her imaginary friend can’t appreciate it.

    Reply
  2. Justine Valinotti

    Obstacle–I couldn’t have said it any better!

    Reply
  3. Michael Mock

    Wow. That was… simultaneously talented, and kind of horrible. I mean, she’s very good. But to make that song into a worship song (and WHY???) she essentially wrecks the rhyme scheme and I think even the syllable count in a couple of places.

    Reply
  4. James Dowdeswell

    I’m a christian.

    From my very small interaction with Becka, she does seem a lovely lady. Very positive and talented.

    May I share a YouTube video. It’s a video of my disabled daughter dancing to the same song. Becka gave her permission for Jess to dance to it, so it’s okay copyright wise. Jess is another positive young lady, and she dances far better than I can so well worth a watch :).

    Hope your life turns out well Bruce.

    Reply
    1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

      “Hope your life turns out well Bruce.”

      Wow, that’s sure passive-aggressive.

      My life is what it is, and on balance I am quite happy. But, l assume this is not what you meant; that in the “end” life won”t turn out “well” for me because I am an atheist.

      Reply
  5. James Dowdeswell

    Bruce,

    My comment, “Hope your life turns out well”, was meant sincerely. I’ve seen people ‘on fire for God’ loose their faith; and I’ve seen the most unlikely people turn into far better Christians than I am. What that’s taught me is that you never really know how things will turn out.

    I’m glad to hear… your life is what it is, and on balance you are quite happy.

    I AM concerned you’re reading passive-aggression into my words (which wasn’t there) simply because of your comment policy, “Using a passive-aggressive approach in the comment section will not be tolerated and will result in a permanent ban.”

    Help me out with one thing. You’ve included Beckah’s video in a series that purports to show, “the crazy, cantankerous, or contradictory side of Evangelical Christianity”. But how does that apply to Beckah’s video? How is she, “crazy, cantankerous, or contradictory”?

    In the comments above, we’ve got ObstacleChick’s, “imaginary friend”, jibe. But then, even if God isn’t real, doesn’t that make her mistaken and not “crazy”? And, if he is real, then doesn’t Beckah’s life makes a whole lot of sense.

    Michael Mock’s commented, “she essentially wrecks the rhyme scheme and I think even the syllable count in a couple of places.” But seriously? The danger with that is that one can end up looking more cantankerous than these “crazy, cantankerous, and contradictory Evangelicals”.

    He also said…

    “But to make that song into a worship song (and WHY???)”

    Why? Well, simply read the comments against the video on YouTube for answers. The video has 46 thousand likes, (1 thousand dislikes). When my daughter heard Beckah’s version her eyes lit up. My point is, if nothing else, the video makes the people it was made for happy. That is reason enough.

    Finally, it’s all very well to make fun of Beckah. But, my brief experience of her left me thinking she was a caring, empathetic, humble, and kind lady.

    Reply
    1. Rebecca

      James, your daughter dances beautifully, a very graceful young lady. 🙂

      Reply
      1. James Dowdeswell

        Thanks Rebecca. I’ll tell her you said that :).

        Reply
    2. ObstacleChick

      Hi James,

      Your daughter is lovely and looks like she is thoroughly enjoying herself! That’s awesome!

      My comment about “imaginary friend” is due to the fact that I do not believe in deities. Some people do believe in them, and there was a time when I did as well.

      I’m sure Bruce will respond on his own to the why’s and wherefores of his choice to include this clip in his “Sounds of Fundamentalism” series. From my perspective, growing up in a fundamentalist evangelical church and school, there was a lot of emphasis of being “in the world but not of the world”, and therefore, there was quite a movement to take “worldly” artistic forms (songs, movies, sayings, etc.) and turn them into Christianized and sanitized versions. The implication was that the original “worldly” version was tainted with sin (and thus considered inappropriate) and needed to be Christianized to make it acceptable for Christian consumption. One can make the argument that there is nothing inherently wrong with “cleaning up” items in entertainment, and there are certainly some songs/movies/media that employ messages and themes that are not the best. (Some types of music are filled with themes of abusing women, glorifying drug culture, killing law enforcement officers, etc. – themes that are difficult to deal with at best). But for myself, having lived in a culture that attempted to judge everything that was not produced by Christian publishing houses, recording studios, etc., as “tainted” or “evil” and then changing it to fit its proscribed message was very damaging. Growing up, I wasn’t taught the skills to learn to handle themes and messages that were outside the approved Christian bubble. I was sheltered from movies, music, “the world”. When I did go out into “the world” as a 16 year old in a summer job and later as an 18 year old to college, I struggled with things that my peers who had not been as sheltered had already dealt with prior. Many of the students from my Christian school who were similarly sheltered have conveyed their struggles as well.

      I agree with you that the clip of Beckah is different from some of the other “Sounds of Fundamentalism” in that there isn’t a vehement preacher spewing words of hatred at the audience advocating the killing of homosexuals. There isn’t a layperson telling women that their place is in the home in full submission to their husbands. But to me the “need” to turn a fairly innocuous pop song about a guy appreciating his lover into a song praising Jesus shows the inherent thought process of evangelical fundamentalist Christianity to uber-sanitize anything that does not come out of Christian media. And I do have a personal aversion to that type of thought process as it personally damaged me for many years, so I tend to respond with an eyeroll or two (silent or otherwise).

      Reply
      1. James Dowdeswell

        Thanks ObstacleChick. I totally get where you’re coming from. You express yourself very well by the way.

        I would say this process is far from unique to Christianity though. Other ideologies do the same thing. For example, quite frequently you get progressively liberal film companies taking an older movie, book, comic and doing a film/remake of them, but in the process they remove problematic content, and add progressively liberal content into them. This happens a lot yes? The world is full of competing ideologies all doing this kind of thing. Also, adverts are full of well known songs (at least in my country) where the companies have re-written the words to sell their products or services.

        I would caution against assuming there is a single thought process to evangelical fundamentalist Christianity. While I get there are evangelical fundamentalists who want to sanitise the world around them, there will be others who want to see more original creative Christian content. Who knows, maybe this process is less about sanitisation, and more about Christians simply trying to put the Christian message into a form that’s “relevant” to people who like that kind of music.

        Reply
    3. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

      I assume you are a Christian, and that you hold orthodox Christian beliefs about the nature of man and the eternal destiny of those who refuse to repent of their sins and put their faith and trust of Jesus Christ. I assume, then, that me being an atheist means I am headed for hell. Am I wrong about your beliefs?

      If I’m not wrong, then you saying “Hope your life turns out well” is passive-aggressive. Your statement also assumes that my life is not fine as it is. Now, if you don’t hold to the beliefs I’ve mentioned, then I apologize for my comment.

      I couldn’t decide whether to put this song in the Songs of Sacrilege series or the Sounds of Fundamentalism series. I went with the latter because the song is a good example of how Evangelicals rip off the secular world and appropriate that which they have stolen for their own. Christians have being do so since the First Century.

      Christianity is meant to be countercultural and communal. Instead, it embraces cheap, bastardized cultural copies and has turned worship into narcissistic, me-centered events. I’m no fan of praise and worship music. Much of it sounds like repetitious boyfriend-girlfriend pop songs. I’m sure you see things differently. That said, Christians are free to do what they want, just as I am when I give my objections to Shae’s Evangelical appropriation of this song. The song won a Grammy last night, by the way.

      Reply
      1. James Dowdeswell

        Bruce,

        I posted a video of my daughter dancing and ended it with a nice comment. You wrongly take my nice comment to be some kind of aggression. I tell you it was meant sincerely. Why can’t you just accept that? Apparently, you know what I mean better than I do.

        To answer you (let’s go with logic):

        No, “Hope your life turns out well”, doesn’t assume your life is not fine as it is. Your life is incomplete. Whatever the state of your life (I’m not going to judge), it may get better or worse. I hope the former. I’m not going to make a judgment about you because people’s lives are very complex and have lots of aspects to them. You may be a more worth person than I am, in lots of ways, despite me being a Christian and you and Atheist.

        For your main argument, it doesn’t follow that, “Hope your life turns out well”, has to be interpreted passive-aggressively, sarcastically, or whatever, even if subscribing to the beliefs you mention. Had I been thinking of final judgement (which I wasn’t), I may be hopeful that at some stage you’d find God again. If that were so, then clearly, “Hope your life turns out well”, could be a positive affirmation of that and not a negative statement.

        Which kind of brings us back to what I said:

        I’ve seen people ‘on fire for God’ loose their faith; and I’ve seen the most unlikely people turn into far better Christians than I am. What that’s taught me is that you never really know how things will turn out.

        Reply
        1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

          Maybe, just maybe, everyone is wrong about you, and if we are, I apologize on behalf of all of us.

          You seem to suggest you subscribe to the beliefs I mentioned. If so, could it be possible that you are so immersed in them that you fail to see how your words might be perceived by someone like me — a seriously ill, disabled atheist. (Know your audience.) and that if you believe those things — that God will torture atheists for eternity, fitting them with a new body so they can withstand such torture — your words can never be viewed as a positive affirmation.

          As far as making fun of the artist. The first paragraph is found on every post in this series. It’s generic. In this instance, I posted the song as an illustration as to how Christians — especially Evangelicals — appropriate worldly/non-Christian/secular things and Christianize them. The result is always an inferior, at times laughable, product (as is the case here). As someone else mentioned, she could have written her own music and lyrics. Instead, she took the easy and lazy path to crafting a song — much like I do when I hear a tune that can be easily reworded. An example of this would be me hearing Trump on the radio giving one of his racist dog-whistle filled speeches. I’ll break out my favorite song for racists — I’m dreaming of a White Christmas.

          Everyone has said their piece, James, so it is time to move on. I wish you well. May your life be blessed in the days ahead. I sincerely mean this — no strings attached. Since your life is the only one we’ll ever have, enjoy it while you can.

          Reply
    4. Michael Mock

      I don’t know if this really requires a response, but in case some clarification is helpful:
      Beckah Shae seems very talented. (I’m not sure whether she’s Nice and Well-Intentioned has any relevance, but she’s certainly a skilled performer.) And I can hardly argue with someone putting their own lyrics to a popular tune, since I do so myself all the time – it turns out, for example, that O Come All Ye Faithful make a lovely way to wake one’s children up for breakfast, if you substitute the word “hungry” for “faithful” and proceed boldly on from there, and if you don’t mind being pelted by children’s toys and flying stuffed animals.

      But I borrow from popular tunes *because* I’m not a good musician. (A decent lyricist, maybe, but a horrible musician.) Beckah Shae, by contrast, strikes me as more than talented enough to rely on the strength of her own original work. And I’ve seen enough instances of this particular pattern — reasonably talented Christian artist takes a sinful-sounding popular tune and converts it to a worship song — that it doesn’t seem like harmless fun to me anymore. It feels… weirdly appropriative. Like, This is a popular and catchy song, so we must convert it to something we can approve of. That Beckah Shae clearly has an audience who feels the same way doesn’t make it any more comfortable to watch.

      On top of that, this particular song seems to me to be describing a particular (albeit idiosyncratic) experience of love. I don’t think it deserves that sort of treatment. I don’t think the original version deserves to be rejected as sinful, as something that *needs* to be rewritten in a purer form to be acceptable.

      And yes, you can object (or ignore) my reaction on the basis that such is clearly not what she intended to do, but A) I’m not making claims about what she attempted, I’m only giving witness of how it comes across to me, and B) just because you don’t see the problem doesn’t mean that it isn’t there. (Admittedly, that’s a warning that I need — and try — to keep in mind for myself as well. The problem with blind spots is that, well, you can’t see them.)

      And I don’t want to oversell this as some sort of Big Deal, because Evangelical culture has been doing this sort of thing for as long as I can remember, and it really doesn’t detract from my enjoyment of the original songs… so I don’t see it as something that needs to be met with anger (unlike your “I hope your life turns out well” comment, which was — at the absolute best — hugely tone-deaf). But gentle mockery? Not at all undeserved, from my perspective.

      …And, upon re-reading, I would also caution you against conflating “criticizing this song” with “making fun of Beckah”. Re-read those early comments. Most of them are actually quite complimentary about the young lady and her performance. It’s the decision to do this particular thing to this particular song that’s gathered the criticism.

      Reply
      1. James Dowdeswell

        Michael,

        “so I don’t see it as something that needs to be met with anger (unlike your “I hope your life turns out well” comment, which was — at the absolute best — hugely tone-deaf)”

        My comment wasn’t said in anger.

        Not entirely sure how it’s me who’s ‘hugely tone-deaf’ when it’s you guys who did the misreading.

        If I made a mistake, it’s that I spoke without giving thought to the prejudice my words would be received with.

        As for, “making fun of Beckah”, for context, you’ll notice that’s in a post directed at Bruce. It was a reference to him saying:

        “If you know of a video clip that shows the crazy, cantankerous, or contradictory side of Evangelical Christianity, please send me an email with the name or link to the video. Please do not leave suggestions in the comment section.  Let’s have some fun!”

        Now, he treats Beckah’s song as an example of that.

        Basically, he’s saying let’s get enjoyment out of watching these examples of how, “crazy, cantankerous, or contradictory”, Evangelical Christianity can be.

        Now, in my opinion, he’s therefore making fun, if not of Beckah, of what she’s doing.

        Fair?

        Reply
        1. Michael Mock

          I wasn’t suggesting that your “I hope your life…” comment came from a place of anger; I was suggesting that responding to it angrily – meeting it with anger – would not be inappropriate (as opposed to this behavior of taking naughty popular songs and converting them to worship songs, which does not merit such a response). “I hope your life turns out well” is really not an appropriate thing for a Christian to say to an atheist, because it’s very likely to come across sounding like, “Yeah, good luck with that.” (That may not be clear, so I’m just going fall back on saying that it sounds like the surface well-wishing of “I hope your life turns out well” carries an unspoken subtext of “but I don’t really expect that to happen”.)

          We can’t read your intentions. We can only read what you wrote. And what you wrote looks like one of those veiled insults that most of us are all too familiar with.

          I’m perfectly willing to take you at word when you say that you really didn’t intend it that way; but if you’re going to comment on predominantly-atheist blogs, then you should be careful with comments like that, because that’s the… I wouldn’t characterize it as “prejudice” exactly… that’s the perspective, that’s the context that non-believers are going to read it with.

          Now, as for the Making Fun of Beckah objection being directed at Bruce, and in the context of having it included in the Sounds of Fundamentalism category here… Eh, okay. I’ve already said that I do find this sort of thing weirdly inappropriate, but okay, yes: fair enough.

          Reply
          1. James Dowdeswell

            Hey, Bruce wants me to move on. So, I’ll wrap-up with this post.

            Let me leave you with a thought on, ‘being talented enough to rely on the strength of your own work.’

            The Album “Thriller” is the best selling Album of all time. Did you know Michael Jackson only wrote three of the nine songs on it? And, the title track “Thriller” was written by Rod Temperton and not Michael Jackson.

            Interesting right?

            I think Beckah Shae has released 10 studio albums.

          2. Michael Mock

            I… don’t really see those as comparable. Collaborating with people to produce an original work (the Michael Jackson example) seems to me very different from taking an established, already-produced work and trying to update it into something less sinful (as Beckah Shae did with this song, and which I’ve already said strikes me as weirdly appropriative).

            Again, I don’t want to overstate this, because in a lot of ways it really isn’t a very big deal or even a particularly unusual behavior. But I do find it somewhat problematic, and I don’t think it would hurt for (some groups of) Christians to think over why it feels so exciting to reclaim worldly music like this and whether that’s an entirely admirable or healthy impulse.

            (This sort of thing bothered me even back when I was a Christian, but that might be partly because the sort of Christianity that I grew up really didn’t do much of this. The Christianity I grew up in was, for the most part, perfectly okay with just enjoying the songs as they were. There wasn’t that odd sense that you had to rewrite the lyrics before it would be okay to enjoy the songs.)

  6. Brian

    What knocks my socks off, Mr. Dodeswell, is the complete innocence you assume in response to Mr. Gerencser’s catch of your passive-aggressive stance That stance is very typical of Christians in my life-long experience. You cannot help but serve your master and he will judge us all etc. so when you speak using clear undertones that shout your heart perspective, why deny? Jesus knows your intent was to smile and remind somebody of the end of life judgement. That you were not aware of it, as Mr. Mock points out, is not the point. You believe what you believe and the rest of us are subject to it. In the early days of my dad’s Fellowship Baptist ministry, Christians could openly point at Roman Catholics and other sinners and state that their end would be the fire. Later, that became too unpleasant and it was implied. I recall very well how my father would stand by his black and white views of capital punishment and abortion and humankind as vile…. when challenged he would smile and refuse to engage further. He believed as you seem to, that Jesus is the answer to the evil human question. I find the very concept repulsive and a mockery of basic human innocence. Christianity likes to harm and it does so with a smile. Do you have not one clue about how bizarre a statement yours was? I hope your life turns out well?
    And isn’t it quite odd the way Christians can take human sensuality in song and debase it by applying it to magic Jesus? It is a strange dichotomy, this hatred of the flesh and then the masturbatory celebration of Jesus coming over the fallen flesh and somehow redeeming it. My oh my, the Passion of Christ and his sprayed blood. It just makes me want to dance in the aisles.

    Reply
  7. James Dowdeswell

    Brian,

    There was no catch of a “passive-aggressive stance”. Bruce reeled in the line and there was nothing on the end of it. It was simply him being cantankerous and drawing a wrong conclusion. I suppose we can all do that from time to time.

    Hold a mirror up. How can you say my statement, “Hope your life turns out well”, is “bizarre” (no it was just me being nice), when you post stuff like:

    “…Masturbatory celebration of Jesus…” (Going out of your way to be creepy?), or,

    “Jesus knows your intent was to smile and remind somebody of the end of life judgement. That you were not aware of it, as Mr. Mock points out, is not the point.” (Not aware of my own intents? Yes I am. And no, I wasn’t trying to remind somebody of the end of life judgement… keep fantasying).

    By the way, I don’t think Catholics are going to hell.

    Reply

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