Through the Looking Glass … of Sound

All you really need to know about Christian music can be found here.

I’ve been spending the past week working in Colorado Springs, which is known as a terribly conservative town (let’s put it this way: I once applied to an internal audit job in that city which wanted a spiritual reference and listed “testifying to the glory of Jesus Christ as a key job duty.”) Signs of this were in abundance, such as my favorite radio frequency in Denver being replaced by a Christian rock station. Me being me, I was too lazy to just tune to something else or pop in a CD and so I kept listening out of morbid curiosity.

This music sucks!

I mean, radio is notorious for replaying the same stuff over and over, but I got the feeling they only had about 20 minutes of programming on this station.  Repetitiveness aside, what struck me as particularly offensive was how on the nose all (and I’m not exaggerating, I mean all) of the songs were. I suppose it sounds idiotic to criticize something designed to praise the Lord for, you know, praising the lord but I can’t help but feel there’s room for a little variety.  Rap music does address things other than bitches and money.  Rock music is all over the place.  Heck, even pop music occasionally veers away from puppy love to address female empowerment.

Also, when they veer away, they at least try to weave some artistry (as little as can be attributed to Katy Perry) into the product: “Firework” and “Roar” are at least slightly metaphorical.  It’s not just a few minutes of them saying “I am a woman and I am empowered.”  Christian music apparently doesn’t dare broach such subtlety.  Every (and again, I wish I was exaggerating)  song was straight up “God, God, God.”  He created the universe and is great, he walks with me and is great, he fills me with love and is great … and in every case here’s the song to prove it.  I’m not a religious person, but even I can imagine there are other things to sing about.  Just off the top of my head:

  1. How about abstinence?  I know that’s big with the Christians.  Just take the usual puppy-love song and turn it on its head with how the kids don’t indulge in pleasures of the flesh and instead seek other, more “fulfilling” pursuits.
  2. How about a ballad about helping people? For all the Christianity on this station (including a commercial for a Christian dating website) I never heard a thing about volunteer work.  Didn’t Jesus endorse helping others?  I bet you could make a great song about going to some place devastated place and working to make others’ lives better.  A more personal We Are the World.   Heck, I’d settle for Man in the Mirror.
  3. Really, this seems like a genre just made for more storytelling songs.  Think Elvis Presley’s “In the Ghetto” or Johnny Cash’s “A Boy Named Sue.” Songs about people struggling and how their faith saw them through.  Every song I heard was simply about the fact that it was great to worship.  They all violated the storytelling edict of “show, don’t tell” because they never how that was the case.

I suppose it’s possible that this one radio station for a half hour twice a day wasn’t a fair representation of the genre, but I get the feeling that wasn’t the case.



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