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The power of love (Frankie Goes to Hollywood)

A profound spiritual song from the otherwise controversial group Frankie Goes to Hollywood, released in 1984 and quickly turned into one of their greatest hits.

Aye aye aye aye
Feels like fire
I'm so in love with you
Purge the soul
Make love your goal

The power of love
A force from above
Cleaning my soul
Flame on, burn desire
Love
With tongues of fire
Purge the soul
Make love your goal

I'll protect you from the Hooded Claw
Keep the vampires from your door
When the chips are down
I'll be around
With my undying, death-defying
Love for you
Envy will hurt itself
Let yourself be beautiful
Sparkling love
Flowers and pearls and pretty girls
Love is like an energy
Rushin' in, rushin' inside of me

The power of love
A force from above
Cleaning my soul
Flame on, burn desire
Love
With tongues of fire
Purge the soul
Make love your goal

This time we go sublime
Lovers entwine
Divine, divine
Love is danger
Love is pleasure
Love is pure, the only treasure
I'm so in love with you
Purge the soul
Make love your goal

The power of love
A force from above
Cleaning my soul
The power of love
A force from above
A sky scraping dove
Flame on, burn desire
Love
With tongues of fire
Purge the soul
Make love your goal

I'll protect you from the Hooded Claw
Keep the vampires from your door

PURGE= Purify, make clean and pure.

SOUL= Spirit.

GOAL= /gəʊl/ aim, objective, ultimate intention.

MAKE LOVE YOUR GOAL= Your objective should be love. The most important thing in your life must be love.

CLEANING MY SOUL= The complete sentence is: A force from above cleaning my soul. This is called a reduced relative clause because it uses an –ING form to simplify the original relative sentence, that is: A force from above which cleans my soul. We are talking above a force from above, and we add the information: it cleans my soul. More example of –ing reductions:
- The man who lives over there is French = The man living over there is French.
(living = who lives)
- The dog that was barking last night is mine = The dog barking last night is mine.
(barking = that was barking)

FLAME ON= Keep burning. The particle ON often gives the idea of continuity:
- He died, but his memory lives on = his memory is still alive among us.
- Go on / Keep on
= Continue.
- And the moon was shining on =
and the moon continued shining.

WITH TONGUES OF FIRE= With flames. This image comes from the Bible, where the Holy Spirit (God) fell on Jesus' apostles in the form of tongues of fire and they were all filled with God's love. So here they reproduce the biblical image in "...love, a force from above cleaning my soul... with tongues of fire, purge the soul".

THE HOODED CLAW- A villain from the animated cartoon series called "The perils of Penelope Pitstop" (see picture).

KEEP THE VAMPIRES FROM YOUR DOOR= I'll keep the vampires away from your house = I'll keep danger and evil away from you = I'll protect you.

WHEN THE CHIPS ARE DOWN= At a critical or difficult time.

I'LL BE AROUND= I'll be by your side, I won't leave you alone.

UNDYING= Never dying. This is a reduced relative clause (see above), so the sentence "with my undying love" means: "with a love that never dies"

DEATH-DEFYING= Another reduced relative clause, the sentence means "with a love that defies death" (which is more powerful than death).

SPARKLING= glittering, shining, brilliant, sending out sparks (particles of fire). Another reduced relative clause. "Sparkling love" = a love that sparkles.

RUSHIN'= Moving very fast.

SUBLIME= Of high spiritual, moral, or intellectual worth. Impressive.

ENTWINE= Intertwine, twist together.

PLEASURE= /pleʒə*/

PURE= /pjɔ:/

TREASURE= /treʒə*/

DOVE= /dʌv/ a bird which is the symbol of peace or also, as in this case, the symbol of the Holy Spirit (God) (see picture)

A SKY SCRAPING DOVE= A dove flying really high. Something which is sky scraping is very very high, so really tall buildings are called in American English skyscrapers (BrE highrises), for example, the Empire State in New York.

This song is, obviously, about love, but seen from a deep spiritual point of view. In fact, they present love as a mystical feeling, pure and sublime, the only force that can purify (purge) your soul.

We can find two levels of interpretation, and both are simultaneously true. One level is the love of God (the Christian vision of God's love in particular):

"For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son" (Jn 3:16)

Jesus (God's son) died to save us, and that was the supreme proof of God's love, but then he rose again (he came back to life), so Christians say that Jesus defied death and defeated death, he conquered death. This religious level of love is felt all through the song, but it's most explicit in the lines "with my undying, death-defying love for you" (God speaking).

Other sentences also emphasize the divine nature of this love: "the power of love, a force from above cleaning my soul", "purge the soul", "this time we go sublime... divine". Also, the "tongues of fire" and the dove are biblical symbols for the Holy Spirit.

But there's also a second level all through the song, the level of human love, romantic love. This level is most explicit in two more mundane lines: "flowers and pearls and pretty girls" and "lovers entwine".

The comparison of love with a burning fire can both be a reference to human love (passion) or divine love (zeal), since the Bible often compares the love of/from God with a consuming fire.

So the message of the song is double. You don't have to choose one because both are present simultaneously:
1- Human= my love for you, girl, is as pure and powerful as the love of God.
2- Divine= God's love for us (for me) is the most powerful and purifying force.

So a sentence like "I'm so in love with you" is, at the same time, said by God (1) and by a man to his lover (2). The video clearly emphasises the first level, the divine love, making a reference to the birth of Jesus as the biggest present of God for all humanity.

What is a bit shocking is the lines: "I'll protect you from the Hooded Claw / keep the vampires from your door". Vampires are a traditional metaphor of evil, so it's alright, but talking about vampires and a cartoon villain in the middle of such a spiritual and religious song can certainly sound disturbing... But oh well, we're talking about "Frankie Goes to Hollywood" here, and they're probably still laughing at their little joke.

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