The Essential Advent Calendar: December 25

The Essential Advent Calendar: Merry Christmas! Jedward Inspire Us To ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ As We Go Into The New Year And Decade

We’ve had The Essential Advent Calendar for a few years now and usually when it comes to December 25 we summarise the songs we’ve featured over advent. This year is going to be different. It’s the end of the decade. When we go back to reality after the Christmas/New Year period, and work out how to remember how to write the date, it’s no longer going to be the 20-teens, we’ll have entered the 2020s. And ultimately, it’s up to us to decide whether it’s going to be a time of prosperity and positivity or not: will we have a Roaring 2020s, or will we just go along with whatever is given to us, accepting it as our lot in life, no matter how miserable it makes us feel?

As we finish the 20-teens we have, in the English speaking world at least, a lot of weird stuff going on. The UK, where EP is based, is entering an uncertain era, leaving the European Union at the end of next month. The US also has some pretty big decisions ahead of it. On the other side of the world, half of Australia is on fire, and the people in power over there don’t seem to be helping that situation very much. On the surface it looks more than just a bit grim.

Which brings us to today’s advent calendar entry. To sum up 2019 and to lead us into 2020 and beyond I’ve chosen one of Jedward’s songs, from their most recent album, ‘Voice Of A Rebel’. I know some of you may be like, “here she is banging on about Jedward again”, but hear me out. If there’s one thing none of us can deny about Jedward, it’s that they are positive and upbeat and their songs are about love and encouraging one another to be the very best we can be. It’s because of them, their love and encouragement that Essentially Pop even exists. Their lyrics – and yes the latest album and all the songs they’ve released from 2014 onwards have been written by Jedward – John and Edward Grimes – themselves – their lyrics are empowering. More than that, they’re POWERFUL. The song I’ve chosen, ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’, isn’t strictly a Christmas song but it could certainly serve as an anthem for the coming year – decade even. Check out the opening verse:

Choose your own adventure
Bring your vision to life
Power to the dreamers
We own the night
Choose your own adventure
Let me hear you roar
They’re never gonna steal
The magic in our eyes

If you’re of a certain age you’ll be familiar with the ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ series of books, where the reader is able to change how the story goes depending on what decisions they make. And to a certain extent, life is like that. There are outside forces which influence a lot of the choices we have available – even within the ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ books there were only so many different outcomes – but those we do make have the potential to change our lives dramatically. Back to Jedward’s lyrics:

You gotta wear your own skin
To be who you are
Give yourself the freedom
Don’t be someone you’re not
Believe me there’s a hero in everyone
Waiting to be found
Just know you’re not alone

So many people restrict themselves by believing they’re not capable of achieving things others seem to do with ease. Again, we all have limitations, but from time to time it’s beneficial to step out of our comfort zone and try something a bit different – to allow ourselves to grow – to give ourselves the FREEDOM. We can choose to be frustrated by the achievements of others, or we can be challenged to make goals of our own?

In reading the lyrics of this song earlier this week, I was struck by this stanza:

Right now I dare you to change the world
Do the real things that speak to your soul
Act on your true feelings know you have a reason
Right now I dare you to change the world

‘RIGHT NOW I DARE YOU TO CHANGE THE WORLD’. We as individuals don’t have to change the entire world ourselves, but by doing something different, no matter how small, we are automatically making changes – taking a different direction, following another path. Our actions affect those around us – just look at the recent UK elections. But we don’t all have to be Greta Thunberg, or environmentalists, or get arrested protesting in Washington DC every Friday (But we can if we want to). We don’t all have to get into political life to change the world. We don’t have to physically go anywhere to make changes: it can be a change in attitude or something we do differently in our home. We can decide to be saddened by the state of the world or we can decide to look at how we can enact positive change.

‘DO THE REAL THINGS THAT SPEAK TO YOUR SOUL’ – real things don’t have to be massive, but we need to look deep into our own souls and work out what inspires us and what makes us happy in our lives. If things make us unhappy, how do we change that? What do we have to do? A positive outlook begins with one single step. Choose your own adventure.

If every single one of us changed even just one thing in our own world for the better – then surely there would be a ripple effect of positivity that would echo across the entire planet?

‘ACT ON YOUR TRUE FEELINGS / KNOW YOU HAVE A REASON’ No matter what we believe, or even if we don’t believe anything – the one undeniable truth we all have is that we have been put on this earth for a purpose. We have a reason for existence – it doesn’t matter if we never know what it is, we just need to know it’s not by chance that we came into this world. None of us chose to be here, but every one of us affects the lives of everyone else – those we come into contact with, and those we don’t.

As the Elizabethan metaphysical poet John Donne said,

No man is an island
Entire of itself
Every man is a piece of the continent
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manor of thy friend’s
Or of thine own were:
Any man’s death diminishes me
Because I am involved in mankind
And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls;
It tolls for thee.

I’ll finish with a few more verses from Jedward’s ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’, no less powerful than the other lines I’ve mentioned.

Cause the future’s worth fighting for
Decide what’s happens next, the choice is yours
Oh, we’ll find the diamonds you’ve been looking for
Legends never die, I wanna hear you roar
Let me hear you roar, let me hear you roar
Cause the future’s worth fighting for
Let me hear you roar, let me hear you roar
Always choose your own adventure.

Be brave with your decisions
Go with your gut feeling
Find a place that you feel most at home
Keep searching for the meaning
Bring on new beginnings
Oh, I hope you find what you’re looking for

Here’s to heartfelt victory
Give 100% of your energy
Cause your imagination’s
Deeper then the sea
Here’s to a heartfelt victory.

You gotta wear your own skin
To be who you are
Give yourself the freedom
Don’t be someone you’re not
Believe me there’s a hero in everyone
Waiting to be found
Just know you’re not alone.

I believe we can go into 2020 with the same attitudes we’ve been carrying with us in 2019, or we can decide to make the world a little different. Either way we’re making a choice. After all, it was possible to take the easy way out in the ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ books and finish early without going through any real challenges. But like Jedward, I say,

Be brave with your decisions
Go with your gut feeling
Find a place that you feel most at home
Keep searching for the meaning
Bring on new beginnings
Oh, I hope find what you’re looking for.

The entire song can serve as a mantra for daily living. ‘Be brave with your decisions / Go with your gut feeling’; ‘You gotta wear your own skin / to be who you are’ – such dangerous words! Imagine if everyone dared to be themselves without caring what others thought?

What changes are you going to make in 2020? What diamonds are you looking for? Let us know!

From all of us at Essentially Pop, have a wonderful Christmas! See you in the New Year!

Jedward’s album Voice Of A Rebel’ can be ordered on CD through their official website. Delivery will be from January. ‘Voice Of A Rebel’ is also available to stream and download here. You can find Jedward online on their official website, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr, and YouTube.

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About the author

Lisa has been writing for over 20 years, starting as the entertainment editor on her university newspaper. Since then she's written for Popwrapped, Maximum Pop, Celebmix, and ListenOnRepeat.

Lisa loves all good music, with particular fondness for Jedward and David Bowie. She's interviewed Edward Grimes (Jedward), Kevin Godley, Trevor Horn, Paul Young, Peter Cox (Go West), Brendan B Brown (Wheatus), Bruce Foxton (The Jam), among many many more. Lisa is also available for freelance writing - please email lisa@essentiallypop.com

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