You can't say enough about Skillet: dynamic songwriting, well-blended vocals, intricate musical arrangements, and, most importantly, a kick-you-in-the-face sound that leaves you wanting more every time. Yet, for all the things that can be said of Skillet, it saddens me sometimes that some of their best work goes largely unrecognized. Case in point? The song "Under My Skin" from the album "Collide."
Now, Skillet's sound is unmistakable: thick, often crushing guitars typically teamed with violin and cello, and the occasional keyboard or piano. They usually take you for a ride right from the get go and keep you at full speed until the end. So it's something to note when John Cooper, Skillet's frontman and lead songwriter, starts us out with an acoustic guitar on "Under My Skin:" something important is going to be said, and we need to pay special attention to what's coming.
The message behind "Under My Skin" is simple enough: even when everything on the outside (and even the things on the inside) seem chaotic and out of control, the peace that comes from God's presence inside completely overtakes the pain, and as we draw close to Him, everything else just fades away. A powerful message, yes, but the thing that makes this song extra special is the way that message is communicated.
The first words that the listener gets to hear: "When I feel You close to me, it's easy to believe." That's an extremely profound statement. At the time, the listener may not feel like God is anywhere near them, but John Cooper helps us understand that God is near, and we need only allow Him to come in. "You calm the ache, I come awake when you are everything you are." Yes, God is a God that is able to heal us in times of hurt and pain. What a wonderful truth.
Now, in terms of their normal sound, Skillet doesn't disappoint; "Under My Skin" still kicks in with a heavily driven chorus. The lyrics here serve to neatly sum up the message: "When I hurt, when I bleed, You're holding me, feel you scratching at the surface under my skin." Yes, that just about sums it up. But there's one more part of this song that makes it extra special, and it's one of the reasons why I feel this song is one of Skillet's best: the bridge.
After a mild guitar solo and several hits, we arrive at the point of refreshment: we're given a moment of severe calm, of simple piano with some mild synth. And then, the poem starts:
Could I be lost, could I disappear?
Could I be lost, would You find me here?
Could I be lost in a secret place?
Could I rest in the shadow of Your face?
and, to compliment, a beautiful descant part:
Oh, the sweet serenity, beautifully a part of me
And you're left feeling, "Wow, God actually cares about me that much." Yes, He does, and that's the point.
And yes, we get a big ending with some fantastic emphasis hits on the final chorus, but it's the bridge of "Under My Skin" that makes it a song that deeply affects the listener for the better. That's what makes it a song that really sticks with you.
You can listen to "Under My Skin" on the YouTube video below:
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