Shannon Whitson, whitsosk@muohio.edu

In this day and age, there is often a negative stigma attached to mainstream music, which incessantly loops over and over again on the radio. It is true — not all mainstream music is inappropriate or completely manufactured, however, most people view popular, overplayed songs with an attitude of utter disgust due to the vulgarity and the language used throughout.

Not only do people despise popular music because of the bad language which its artists frequently employ, but they also look down on this music because of the revolting and repulsive themes it promotes. For example, sex, drugs and drinking. Lady Gaga, who is just 25 years old, is currently one of the most popular artists in the world, and coincidentally, is also the richest person in the United States, having just surpassed Oprah Winfrey this past year.

Nevertheless, the reason why mainstream artists like Lady Gaga are allowed to use lewd language, wear dresses made entirely of meat and essentially do whatever they want while still making money, is because these musicians are able to sell themselves and their products (their music, which often times is not even very good) to the masses.

Despite the fact that popular music happens to be extremely off-putting (in my opinion), I never thought we as individuals within a constantly evolving society could have as great of an impact, if not bigger, on these mainstream artists as they seem to have on us everyday.

However, the other day I can across a YouTube video posted by an 18-year-old boy named Benjamin Breedlove, and my perspective was completely and forever changed.

Ben was a senior at Westlake High School in Austin, Texas. He posted a YouTube video, titled, “This Is My Story,” approximately five days before he died of a heart attack on Christmas morning. Ben’s video has received more than 1 million views and has been trending around the world since he passed away just a few short weeks ago. In his video, Ben mimics the style of another YouTube video by Jonah Mowry, titled, “What’s Goin on…,” in which a high school boy (Jonah Mowry) expressed the bullying he endured throughout his entire life. In his video, Jonah does not speak, but is crying. Music plays in the background as he holds up note cards with his story written on them. Benjamin Breedlove does the same in his video, however, he tells his personal story.

Ben was diagnosed with a hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, or HCM, a very serious and deadly heart condition. His parents learned of his condition when he was still a baby in the hospital.

Ben told of how he cheated death three times throughout his struggle with HCM. Towards the end of his story, Ben explained the third time he cheated death on Dec. 6, and also tells of a vision he had, where he seemed to be in a never ending, white room with no walls (or Heaven), where he was dressed in a suit, couldn’t stop smiling, felt at peace and he saw himself in a mirror with Kid Cudi standing beside him.

Ben said at that moment he was proud of himself, his life and everything he had done. He describes it as “The BEST feeling!” He further explained that Kid Cudi’s song “Mr. Rager” was playing at the part where he says, ” When will the fantasy end? When will the Heaven begin?” Throughout the video, you can tell Breedlove is a man of faith. After being revived, Ben indicated in the video that he wished he never left that white room.

The second to last note card Ben holds up in the video reads, “Do you believe in angels or God?” Then he follows it with a card that says, “I do.”

No matter what your religion or beliefs, this YouTube video by Benjamin Breedlove, made merely a few days prior to his death, has inspired while simultaneously making millions that have seen this video think and evaluate their beliefs, including Kid Cudi. Because this video was made popular posthumously, shortly after this video was released, Kid Cudi viewed it and has since responded. The mainstream artist expressed how deeply moved he was by this young man’s faith-filled video.

It is amazing to me that someone so beautiful and honest could touch not only the hearts of millions around the world, but that Ben could also reach the heart of mainstream artist Kid Cudi.

Although, mainstream music still enforces and exercises cheap musical practices in order to make money and be worshipped around the globe, I now see that it is possible for an individual like Benjamin Breedlove to make a change.

Ben made just as big of impact on the world as Lady Gaga and Kid Cudi, while enforcing and giving light to noble and moral themes.

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