Our theme for the month of June is “Celebrities and Me.” Writers were asked to select and write about a celebrity with whom they feel some connection.
I guess if I never fell, I guess I wouldn’t need grace.
Music is a vessel that always carries me through difficult seasons of life. Sometimes a person can hear a song and instantly go back to a different moment in time, but for me, the inverse has also been true. I can reflect on specific occasions that happened in my life, and suddenly a soundtrack comes back to me—one that always seems more vivid when I recall unpleasant memories
For four years and counting, Jon Bellion has been my top artist on Spotify. As much as I enjoy and listen to a number of other artists (as well as obsess over a certain English singer/style icon), I think there’s a distinct reason why Jon remains consistent in the shuffle. He’s been that vessel from the first time I heard his songs.
Jon’s music came into my life at a time when things were changing for the both of us. I, to a far less public extent, had just transferred to Calvin. Jon had just released his debut album, The Human Condition, a few months prior, and the lead single, “All Time Low,” gained some traction on radio stations and on Billboard charts. About a year later, he would appear on NBC’s Today show and also join Twenty One Pilots as the opening act for the U.S. dates of their Emotional Roadshow World Tour.
I started listening to Jon’s music after hearing “All Time Low” and after a few friends expressed their admiration. I’m always a sucker for catchy pop tunes, and while “All Time Low” is undeniably catchy, it quickly became apparent that his artistry is so much more than that. Jon’s sound is a unique blend of hip-hop, rap, pop, and even some jazz, and listeners will always recognize his familiar knack for quirky background sounds and loops in the midst of snappy synth beats. He’s a master lyricist, and it’s admirable how he can relay a message without coming off as preachy.
What I truly appreciate about Jon is his transparency. He shares his struggles and his shortcomings through his music, and unlike some artists who are Christians but create secular music that touches on a vague idea of faith, Jon explicitly mentions God and what his faith journey has looked like. He’s been through a lot, but in no way does he claim to have all the answers. He’s only human—and that’s the whole idea behind The Human Condition.
In some ways, I feel like that album was meant to come into my life when it did. From anxiety to heartbreak to sickness, the second semester of my first year at Calvin was challenging. As I started listening to more of Jon Bellion, I found that his words provided some solace. I remember sitting in my room and playing “Maybe IDK” on repeat.
Although I guess if I knew tomorrow
I guess I wouldn’t need faith
I guess if I never fell, I guess I wouldn’t need grace
I guess if I knew his plans, I guess he wouldn’t be God (God, God)
So maybe I don’t know
Jon’s human condition intersected with mine, and the same thing happened when he released Glory Sound Prep in 2018. After an unsuccessful summer of job searching, I picked up a second restaurant job in the fall. The album had just come out, so I listened to it during every commute—a small bright spot during some depressing days. I felt lost. I didn’t know what I was meant to be doing or where I was supposed to be.
But now, when I think back to those times, I think of Jon’s messaging more than anything. Behind the chorus and the instrumentals is an artist who has been on the cusp of commercial greatness, yet he continuously pulls back the curtain to reveal humility, fear, and faith. When Jon says he’s blessed, I furiously believe it. But that’s because I know it’s taken quite a journey for him to get there. And I think that, even during those difficult seasons, I held onto that same hope for myself.
In recent years, Jon has gone on to write and create for some popular artists like Justin Bieber, Halsey, Maroon 5, Selena Gomez, and Katy Perry. Sometimes I’ll hear a new song on the radio and detect Jon’s hand in it, only to have that confirmed when I google the songwriting credits later. After years of listening, his style is unmistakable. It gives me a sense of pride to hear his talent displayed in a more mainstream capacity. Maybe he can be a vessel for someone else, too.
Maybe I don’t know
But maybe that’s okay
Photo by Flickr user ccierraa
Kayleigh (Fongers) Van Wyk (’18) graduated with a degree in writing and resides in West Michigan. She works as a reporter for the Grand Rapids Business Journal and Grand Rapids Magazine while also making time for freelance writing. When she’s not behind a screen, she enjoys going for walks, eating ice cream, and buying more books than she’ll ever read.