If you’ve never listened to contemporary Christian music, you’re not missing out. For some reason I keep finding myself surrounded by the stuff, and it’s obviously complete garbage. This isn’t merely due to the subject matter, though Jesus is a large factor. This isn’t a discussion of Christian music being bad because of its lyrical content, but rather it’s about Christian music being bad because there’s no critical analysis in the style.
In the last 20-30 years, Christians have wormed their way into every genre of music, polluting them all with Christian versions of songs in the style of everything from hip hop to indie pop, and of course alternative rock. But the real reason these songs are horrible is because no one is critically examining any of them for artistic merits simply due to their subject matter. If you subbed out the occasional Jesus message in a song by Jay-z or Willie Nelson, the music would still be great. For that matter, if you subbed in Jesus into secular music, you’d have a decent song that just happens to be about Jesus. Conversely, if you subbed out Creed’s message of Jesus, you’d be left with really shitty music.
The reason no one takes a critical ear to Christian music is because Christians are incapable of taking or giving any sort of criticism about their message. It is assumed that anything harsh that is said about the song is an attack on their faith rather than an attempt at constructing a better song. Additionally, bad songwriting can be explained away by saying “that’s how the Lord wanted me to write it.” As long as the message is Jesus, anything goes in this Wild West of music.
A large portion of the audience of Christian music is definitely looking for stuff that sounds identical to what is already in their music collection, so the great bulk of it sounds like this. But all of these new splinter mainstream secular genres are spawning Christian clones. The world of electronic music is largely untapped by Christians at this point, most likely due to the late night/drug use association that the genre has, but then you have oddities like Moby running around, being Christian and also producing electronic music (and sometimes pretending to be a rock star). He doesn’t exactly fit into the cookie cutter world of Christian music because not all of his songs are about Jesus and he doesn’t release on Christian record labels.
But some one could come along eventually that is writing music just like Moby’s and releasing it on Christian record labels. Some one could invent Christian night club music to make it safe for the Christian teens to go out dancing while still respecting the Lord. In fact, a truly subversive musician who can’t cut it in the secular music industry could easily make millions of dollars by feigning a Christian message over top their otherwise secular music, simply because they would receive no criticism. Instant Fame: Just add Jesus.