Here’s a first: The Pope is dropping an album

From monk chants of yore to the gospel choirs of now, religion and music have always had a very close, though sometimes tempestuous, relationship. Ultimately though, both serve as forms of expression in dialogue with each other; after all, Christian rock is a mainstream music genre with its own Billboard chart. So, it’s not a total surprise that none other than current Cool Pope Francis is dipping his toe into the music waters, but the result is totally unlike anything we could’ve expected, anticipated, or imagined.

Debuting the first track off the album in Rolling Stone (#coolpope), Pope Francis (or rather, his team) has decided to make a proper album versus, say, a catalogue of unedited inspirational speeches and/or worship songs. “Wake Up! Go! Go Forward!” is a combination of a speech Francis gave back in 2014 with some pretty good rock instrumentals. It’s also indicative of the rest of Wake Up!, which is being described as a “prog-rock-infused album” and which gives us visions of Francis working with other auteurs in the genre like The Mars Volta. (Alas, nothing on the album appears to be a cover of this.)

Wake Up! will include 11 tracks, featuring Francis’s speeches (lyrics?) in four languages and over a variety of hot beats, including Gregorian chants. Producer and artistic director Don Giulio Neroni had this to say about the truly unorthodox project:

Considering this is the same Pope who speaks out against the gender wage gap and for addressing climate change, Wake Up! isn’t totally out of line with his mission of reaching and connecting with new audiences. Listen to “Wake Up! Go! Go Forward!” below, and marvel in a world in which a Pope has the chance to hit the Billboard Hot 100.

Related reading:

When Pope Francis met Bo and Sunny Obama

Pope Francis states his support for gender equality in the workplace

[Image via Instagram]