I’d like to point out another blog posting from Relevant Magazine that exemplifies one of the reasons (of many like a new baby and full time job) that I’m no longer volunteering with Christian music radio. I love radio and the much of the music that goes with it. Being on the radio was one of the goals I had as a kid… literally practicing on tape recorders and even partly choosing a college by the quality of its student run radio station (Liberty University’s station is pretty impressive). But… over the years I’ve grown frustrated by the number of weak albums being released by the artists who dominate the CCM marketplace. I’m so frustrated that I don’t even know what’s the latest album to come out by Third Day or the Newsboys (bands I used to follow closely). They both have come out with so many weak efforts including multiple cover albums with material written by other “Worship” artists that I no longer had any sense of anticipation for the next song. The songs were filled with the same melodies and musical hooks as they had used before and the lyrics were another smash up of Christian terms that have been used over and over again.
There have been exceptions to this trend. Bands like Switchfoot, who’s themes, while similar in every album, have a way of pointing out how to make the most of life without resorting to cliché “Christian-eeze”. They’ve been rewarded with mainstream appeal and a connection with the audience that I believe Jesus would be interested in. There are bands like Mute Math and The Fray who have refused to be boxed into the Christian Music cage by avoiding contracts with record labels that are historically Christian. If you haven’t sat down with The Fray’s album and read the lyrics while listening… make it a priority. It was my favorite album of ’06 and still plays regularly in the car. Click Here to read the story of Isaac Slade, lead singer of the Fray.
The point is this: Christian music is no longer relevant. It’s hard to admit because I’ve spent so much of my life promoting it… but its true. The most successful bands in Christian music would get out of the category if they could, but many of them are just not good enough as musicians and song writers. Its certainly not for a lack of connections; you can ask just about every CCM artist and they can name drop plenty of mainstream artist and producers who have shown them interest.
There are plenty of artists who are focused on “Worship Music” and would claim to have no interest in a mainstream music career. I’m surprised that despite Rick Warren’s Purpose Driven Life selling (or being given away at his conferences) more than any other book in history, that more people haven’t altered their language patters with the term “Worship Music”. Worship is supposed to be an attitude of gratefulness to our Creator in everything that we do… and shouldn’t be limited to music. But the term “Worship Music” has boxed in the expression of worship… and we continue to do so despite the warnings. Rick make some of his best points in the section where he points out that calling music “Christian music” is actually kind of odd. Is the music itself saved from sin by the grace of Christ? Is the album going to heaven?
So I’ve hung up my cleats, thrown in the towel, and made peace with the fact that Christian Music Radio and I are no longer together. Like any break up, its not easy, and sometimes I want to call up CMR and beg for forgiveness… but in the end I think this is best for my own maturing process. I hope for the best for the people involved, but unfortunately I believe that the money tables of that industry are being turned over.
What do you think?