Pope Francis to release a rock album

From progressive views to progressive rock, Pope Francis turns the cool factor up to 11 with the release of his first rock album this November.

The 11-track album Wake Up! will be released in November

Prog-rock meets the Catholic Church on Pope Francis's forthcoming LP Wake Up!, available on Nov. 27. (Kena Betancur-Pool/Getty Images)

With a fan base of millions, a consistently jam-packed tour schedule, and an almost permanent place in the headlines, it's easy to see how Pope Francis got his "rock star" nickname.

Who'd have thought he would live up to it in a literal sense?

Just in time for the holiday shopping season, Pope Francis will be releasing his first ever, Vatican-approved rock album Wake Up! in November.

Rolling Stone was first to report on the story Friday morning, writing that the Argentine-born pontiff's progressive rock LP will feature him "delivering sacred hymns and excerpts of his most moving speeches in multiple languages paired with uplifting musical accompaniment ranging from pop-rock to Gregorian chant."

The 11-track album will purportedly touch on everything from environmental issues to the importance of helping those in need, with Pope Francis speaking to listeners in Italian, English, Spanish and Portuguese.

This is the cover art included with Pope Francis's first prog-rock single Wake Up! Go! Go! Forward!, uploaded this week to Soundcloud by record label Believe Digital. (Soundcloud/Believe Digital)

"I tried to be strongly faithful to the pastoral and personality of Pope Francis: the pope of dialogue, open doors, hospitality," the records's producer and artistic director, Don Giulio Neroni, said to Rolling Stone. "For this reason, the voice of Pope Francis in Wake Up! dialogues music. And contemporary music (rock, pop, Latin etc.) dialogues with the Christian tradition of sacred hymns."

As unusual as the idea of papal prog-rock may seem, Neroni explained that Francis is not, in fact, the first pope to headline his own album.

The Italian composer has worked on musical recordings in the past with Pope Benedict XVI (who released Alma Mater: Music from the Vatican in 2009) and Pope John Paul II (who released two albums during his time as pontiff: 1999's Abba Pater and 2007's Santo Subito!)

The first release under Pope Francis's name will be markedly different, however, from those released by previous popes in terms of its musical composition. Musician Tony Pagliuca, who collaborated with Neroni on the album, explained to Rolling Stone that his own style is influenced by the time he spent playing for prog-rock bands and touring with artists like Peter Hammil and David Jackson in the 1970s.

Pagliuca composed several of the songs on Wake Up!, including its first single, which was released by the record label Believe Digital on Soundcloud Friday morning.

The track Wake Up! Go! Go! Forward! samples a speech Pope Francis gave to an audience in South Korea last year.

"Wake up, Wake up," he says in English during the song. "The Lord speaks of a responsibility that the Lord gives you / It is a duty to be vigilant / Not to allow the pressures, the temptations and the sins to dull our sensibility of the beauty of holiness."

The album is now available for pre-order in the iTunes store, but papal prog-rock fans won't get to hear it until it's released on Nov. 27.

Pope Francis, who was on the fourth day of his six-day U.S. tour as of Friday, has yet to publicly comment on the release of his forthcoming LP. 

But news of its existence has thrown the internet into a tizzy.


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