I came across an interesting article on an excellent blog I frequent called: What to do about Embarrassingly Bad Popular Christian Muisc which inspired me to write about the topic. I have often asked myself that question, there is a lot of bad Christian music out there. In fact, I went through a stage in college where I rarely listened to Christian music because I felt that so much of it was bad.
Why is that? Why is so much CCM (Christian Contemporary Music) so poor–both musically and lyrically. I have mentioned before that I would rather listen to beautiful secular music that reminds me in some way that man is created in the image of God and therefore capable of creating beautiful art than Christian music that is trite, shallow, and unoriginal.
It bothers me that so much CCM is so bad because I think Christians ought to be making the most beautiful and compelling music of all. Let me explain. God is holy. There is no one like Him (1 Samuel 2:2; Psalm 24). No one comes close to his splendor and majesty. Christ the son is our only savior, he too, is glorious beyond compare. He is the king of all creation (Colossians 1:15ff). God is the greatest being in existence. No one comes close to matching his greatness. If God is the greatest being in existence, then there are no higher thoughts that can be expressed than thoughts of God. If everything really is rubbish compared to knowing God through Christ (Phil. 3:1-11), then shouldn’t Christian music express that reality in a compelling manner?
If there is no greater being in existence than God, then shouldn’t our songs about him reflect that? If coming into a relationship with Him through Christ has transformed us, shouldn’t our music reflect that new relationship beautifully? Furthermore I think those who are truly Christians understand the world in which they live in a more profound manner, shouldn’t we be able to write music in such a way that we accurately reflect truths about the world in which we live?
I believe that Christians have come into the most profound relationship in the universe, a relationship with almighty God. If that is the case then I think that Christians are capable of producing beautiful music but it seems that is rare. Why do you think this is?
There are some great Christian artists out there but most people haven’t heard of them. This is probably due in part to the way the CCM industry works–they simply try to produce artists that sound like popular secular atists etc. Thinking about this has inspired me to come up with a list of Christian Music Worth Listening to.
In no particular order, here are some artists who write from a Christian worldview that are worth checking out (please feel free to add to the list in the comment meta):
Folk/singer song-writer–Denison Whitmer (friend of Sufjan Stevens who would obviously be at the top of this list, he also released a side project with some other guys called the River Bends, which is also quite good); Bill Mallonee (formerly of Vigilantes of Love–Paste named him #65 in the top 100 living songwriters, he really is an amazing song writer!); Rodney Branigan (he plays two guitars at once–one of the best guitarists I have ever seen live); Five O’Clock People (The Nothing Venture is simply amazing!); Sam Ashworth; Damien Jurado; Drew Thomas.
Indie Rock/Decent Emo (i.e. not that lame stuff they call emo today)–Cool Hand Luke; The Rocket Summer (some find him annoying, I love his first album); Ester Drang; Jeremy Enigk (former lead singer for Sunny Day Real Estate–his new band is called The Fire Theft); Lovedrug; Mae; Mineral; Pedro the Lion; Quiet Company; This Providence; Breaking Pangea; Copeland; Pop Unknown; Sleeping at Last.
Oddities–Danielson; Half-Handed Cloud; Woven Hand; The Gloria Record;
Some Christian Indie Gems–Christie Front Drive; All Things Bright and Beautiful; Denison Marrs: World Renowned For Romance (I don’t know what happened to them after this album because the band got worse and worse–kinda like what happened to Jimmy Eat World after they released Clarity); Lewis: Even So.
Again, please feel free to add to my list in the comment meta if you know some great Christian artists worth listening to!