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Sunday, June 15, 2008

Sometimes Change Is A Good Thing...

Hello, me again. Long time, no see right? Actually, it's only been a week. I took a week long break so that I could attend to matters outside the scope of Audio Overflow. However, I'm back and this time, we're going to try something different. That's right, a change. This change however is not necessarily permanent or even temporary. I may in fact get horrible responses from this post, but as the saying goes, "You never know until you try". So, while putting a retro review aside for a week, but still maintaining partial alliteration, I give the first and what may turn out to be the last...Random Rant.


So, what is a random rant exactly? Well, it's pretty much my time to weigh in on a topic of music; any topic is game. However, it's important that we get lots of feedback on this post. Good, bad, agree with the rant, disagree, "no more rants, only retro reviews"... it's a topic discussion, only I get 95% of the floor to say my piece, so if you aren't down with my piece, please let us know.

The topic for today (and I'm sure Cale will hate this) is Christian Music. Religious themed lyrics aside, what is it in particular that makes this genre so particularly bad? Is it the cheesy Jesus lyrics? Maybe... The mostly terrible musicianship? Extremely likely... The lack of pure "un-God-given" talent? I've never figured out what makes the horrible quality of Christian music stand out when flipping through radio stations. It is not like rap, where there are beats, country, where there are drawls, or classic rock with awesome guitar solos. Those genres can be stumbled upon on any radio station and instantly, you know what you are listening to because of the distinct sounds. Yet, Christian music can be made up of all of the previously mentioned sounds and is still a genre defined purely on the basis that every song deals with the same subject, "Christianity". So the question is, if those sounds can be good on a secular radio station, what is it about them in Christian music that makes us laugh, cringe, or avoid the genre altogether?

Growing up listening to Christian music, as that is how I was raised, meant that I have heard it all. Nothing I ever hear in the genre surprises me. When I hear music that is completely devoid of all talent, in other words, what Britney Spears is to pop, I have to cringe. After all, who would really let someone make a song, let alone an album that bad? Did their manager/producer feel obligated to let them continue to make music because it was about a subject which is considered "wholesome" by most American standards? Or was it simply because they felt like they were good musicians? It's unknown, but based on the fact those songs are out there, I can only assume both. Examples of these "so-called musicians" can be found on the play list below. They will include, but are in no way limited to "Carmen", "Twila Paris", "Point Of Grace", "Avalon" and "Nate Sallie". These artists span several generations, but each are bad in there own way, especially Nate Sallie who debuted with a Gavin DeGraw meets Maroon 5 hit, which I firmly believe to sound like complete balls.

On the other hand, there is a glimmer of hope at the end of the Christian music warp zone. It appears in the form of innovative Christian music which may or may not contain the words "God" or "Jesus". Music that is first and foremost good music, served with a side of ministry. I believe that the artists in the Christian genre who have the ability of any secular musicians have the potential to bring back fans the genre may have previously lost. These musicians play just as well or better than others in different genres, the vocals are more distinctive, but not to the bad extent, and the lyrics are deeper than just "thank you Jesus". As the religion of Christianity moves towards a more post modern approach, so do the lyrics. They approach new levels of intimacy, beauty, and depth than both Christians and non, can appreciate. Noteworthy artists that appear in the play list such as, "Robbie Seay Band", "Matt Brouwer", "David Crowder Band", "Evangeline", and "Brandon Heath" have all achieved genre respect from me and deserve to not be lumped into the categories of the previously mentioned.

So how do we answer, "why is Christian music typically so distinctive and so bad?" Well while Christian music has been around for hundreds of years, it has been radio played a lot less than most. I believe that it has growing pains like any other genre, only we've been alive through most of these pains. I believe the genre has both atrocity and outstanding ability, depending on what side of the fence you're on about the subject. There's no denying though that the 2nd half of the playlist is worlds better than the 1st. As you listen to the playlist, no matter what your religious preference, I want you to ponder over the ever growing genre (that's right, despite some of your desires, it won't go anywhere). Determine for yourselves why some Christian artists get airplay when they likely couldn't get it elsewhere and the others who deserve the airplay haven't gotten the attention and respect they deserve within the music industry. Just food for thought...

4 comments:

Heath = Crap said...

I just have to say one thing. The absolute worst song on this playlist is the one by Brandon Heath. That song is awful, I will never understand why it was popular at all. The lyrics are stupid, the music is worse. I think that song is an example of how contemporary Christian music is still just as bad and cheesy today as it ever was.

Cale said...

It is very easily identifiable as CCM. I don't know why that is, but if you were to show me this song and give me no info on it, I'd be able to tell you what it is within the first 15 seconds.

Erin said...

May be true for some, but that's usually the case if you've grown up listening to Christian music, which I'm guessing you have. However, Brandon Heath is classified in the same league with the others on that list which I acclaim, so I'm okay with Brandon being on there. :)

R. D. Bledsoe said...

I can't help but notice that of all the Christian music you brought up, you only mentioned CCM. I know that this may date me a little, but there have been great Christian bands in the past - The Choir, Common Children, Prayer Chain, and the Seventy Sevens to name some of my favorites from the '90's. I no longer listen to or try to stay on top of Christian music, but I still have and listen to all of my CD's from these bands and other favorites and they are as good or better than anything I ever enjoyed from 'secular' bands of that time.
I agree that the songs on your list are bad and that CCM is a very poor substitute for music, but let's compare it with what it should be compared to - artists such as Celine Dion!! @&(&#(!!!