-- Michael Fraiman
I admit that I have not heard very much Christian music in my time. The depth of my exposure dates back to last year, when I had a girlfriend who played for a Christian rock band. I heard a few of her band’s cover songs; suffice it to say, we don’t talk much anymore.
It’s just too boring for me. This subgenre’s power lies more within its lyrical content than in the players’ musicianship, and even that’s debatable. A lot of the lyrics just seem trite.
“So praise the God who saves/ Praise the God who bled/ Praise the God who was nailed to a tree/ And wore our sins upon His head.”
“I need to cry…. cry/ Cry to my Jesus… cry/ Cry to the heavens/ Cause without You in my life.”
Sure, they could have been in genuine grief at the time of writing these lyrics, but there’s something to be said about the line between sincerity and cheese. Like a romantic comedy, they could deal with very real and delicate issues, but the result is a cliché not worth sharing artistically. Ironically, that’s the main draw for Christian music--the content, not the musical talent.
That’s my biggest problem with Christian music--any dude can pick up a guitar, be a mediocre player, write trite lyrics and be praised for it. It’s just too easy.
If I may bring this debate full circle--this old girlfriend I had, she played me a song that she loved. I told my friend this the following day and asked him to guess the chorus’ lyrics.
“What, were they,” he asked, “‘I love you Jesus/ Jesus is my saviour’?”
“Close,” I replied. “It was ‘Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, Jesus …’ over and over again.”
-- Lexi Feinberg
Christian music has become so much more than just “praise the Lord Almighty” and “Hail Mary” chanted over notes. Sure, it is rooted with the same holy undercurrents, but, like any art, you have to take it at face value and decide what it means to you. Millions of people rocked out to Lifehouse’s “Hanging By A Moment” long before they realized it was written about Jesus. And who cares that it was?
Well, they do, apparently. It’s become common for Christian rock bands (some talented, some not) to try and avoid being pigeonholed as religious, even if that’s indeed what they are. Maybe they’re worried that it’s not exactly a sexy marketing campaign or that the godless folks of the world will run screaming when they learn the news. Either way, they choose to let the music do the talking.
As a non-believer, I personally like what I’m hearing. I think that Christian music has gotten a second wind of late. Talented groups such as the aforementioned Lifehouse, Switchfoot and Copeland have blended into the rock scene with their catchy riffs and accessible lyrics. Mute Math is a talented band that can bring a place down with its loud, infectious rock (download the awesome song “Typical” for proof), and even created a savvy homemade instrument called the Atari. And while Evanescence fails to please my eardrums, there is no denying the success the group has enjoyed since its debut.
That’s not to say there isn’t a ton of bad Christian music out there--that is an undeniable fact. There’s bad music everywhere, period. But there is a lot more creativity, experimentation and mainstream appeal coming out of religious rock than ever before.
And I’m keeping the faith, so to speak, that there’s plenty more where that came from.