When it comes to music I’m kind of a Ned Flanders. I love music that exalts God and puts one of the many facets of the gospel into lyrical form. Hands down, if I’m going to listen to music then I’d rather have something that’s in tune with my faith over something that isn’t.
But at the same time, many of the headache-inducing songs I keep hearing on ”Christian” radio just don’t make the cut in my book. You know the ones. They all sound the same with a twenty-something Caucasian singing in exactly the same tonal range as all the others Christian music artists, with a chorus effect to make it sound like there’s three singers instead of just one, carrying out the last word of every other line across four or more measures as if there’s some sort of contest between them to see who can carry out the longest note.
Then, there’s the unoriginal “Q-station” style of verse/chorus repetition. “Hmmm, well I can only think of two verses to go with this chorus so lets just do verse one – chorus – verse two – the chorus twice - musical interlude – the chorus two more times – the chorus again but this time quieter – the chorus a few more times but this time as loud and drawn out as possible.” And let me reiterate my point that many of these songs sound exactly the same, as if there were some cookie-cutter formula for what a “Christian” song is supposed to sound like. The result is that there’s a lot of sub-par music out there that attempts to glorify Christ but fails because its mostly unoriginal, uncreative, and overly repetitive.
Now, this isn’t the case for every song played twenty times a day on your local Christian-themed radio station, but I do find this to be true for the vast majority.
So over the past few years I’ve been on the hunt for music that hasn’t gone through the CCM machine. I’ve been looking for music that is original—either lyrically or melodically—creative, and not overly repetitive. Most importantly, it must be music that stirs within me a passion for the things of God and an ardor for Christ—his work on the cross, his victorious resurrection, and his definite return.
Surprisingly (or rather, unsurprisingly?), I have found what I have been looking for in church-grown music. Churches and ministries whom God has blessed to have talented, creative and visionary musicians and to be large enough to afford to record their own music. Following are the groups I’ve found thus far that meet my personal criteria. Perhaps you may enjoy them as well!