Monday, July 15, 2019

Justin Utley - Survivors (Orchestra Version)


What do you say when one of your best friends gets to release a new video for a passion project he's been working on since 2017? What do you say when that friend continues to grow and become the man you know that he's meant to be? I've had the honor and the privilege to watch Justin work on this song and hear how it's grown into what it is today. I know how much this song means to him and I damn sure know that it's going to mean to the millions of people that get to hear it. I know what it means to pick yourself up off the ground, one more time and dust yourself off and keep on fighting. I know that it means to hear those thoughts and emotions being expressed in music and lyrics. I know just how important this song is going to be and how it's already made an indelible mark on my life.

Justin was selected as a vocalist for the 2018 Eurovision contest and unfortunately it wasn't selected which I absolutely hated for him but it allowed him to get access to the song and have the ability to manipulate it and make it even more his own and he's been working with new producers and has been digging around in the crates of his creativity had found even more tools to give the song depth and more meaning. When I first wrote about this song back in 2017, I talked about how this was an "ode to overcoming obstacles" and while that's true, the obstacles are much more personal with this release. Justin is a very outspoken advocate in the war against conversion therapy which he experienced two years of at the hands of the Mormon church. It's a vile and barbaric practice and it needs to be done away with. With this song, he's hoping to shed light on what's still happening in the gay community in not just Utah but all over the country still.

Music is a universal interpreter of our experiences and emotions. While this song means something very specific to Justin; we, as the audience, have the ability to infer our own ideals onto the words he's singing. In this orchestral version of the song with a gorgeous video to go with it, we see a little girl running through school being haunted by the taunts of her classmates and she winds up seeking solace in the auditorium where she finds Justin. I feel like the video is shot in a way that Justin can be seen as a guide, telling her not to give up. To find it within herself to keep fighting, no matter what. I adore this video. The message it sends. The cinematography. This is more than just a music video. It's a work of art. When the orchestra comes in, it doesn't matter how many times I've watched it; I get chills. It's quite literally one of the best videos I've seen in a very long time and it's not lavish. It's not over the top and it does nothing to detract what the message is. It's what we need in the world today.

I've talked about how much more music means when it has a message and a meaning. What Justin represents, where he's been and what he stands for means so much to so many people. He's creating a musical legacy that not only documents his experience and his journey but that of many LGBTQ+ people around the world. He crafts art that has a profound impact on those around him and it is a gorgeous legacy.

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