Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Music Christians Love

Author's Note: When I run out of things to blog, I usually resort to forming some sort of list in some sort of imaginary category. Deal.

By now, many (/most) Evangelical Christians in the U.S. are unafraid to own "secular*" music. For a while there (I'm guessing: 1985-2005ish), it was kind of taboo to show up to church with Alanis Morissette or Nirvana blaring from your car's heathen-turned-radio. Maybe this wasn't everyone's experience, but I went through a couple "secular" music purgings in order to be sanctified from everything-not-Audio-Adrenaline.

Thankfully, many thinking Christians started to recognize that good music could exist outside of the Contemporary Christian Music market, and that music just might have some sort of spiritually redemptive qualities to it. But I won't digress any more on how I'm glad that many have started to identify truth in every area of culture (that blog has already been written).

What I really want to blog about is those "secular" artists that are Christians' favorites. Those bands or artists that, despite our demonization-through-music fear, keep us listening. Heck, it is even popular to listen to these bands even though they may not have said the sinner's prayer and subsequently signed onto Sparrow Records. Although the "secular" music stigma has diminished, these artists have and still top our iTunes play counts. Without any further adieu, here are three artists, reason why they're popular among Christians, and a personal sighting of their music in a church setting:

Artist: U2
Why: Every Christian who is a music fan loves U2. Their lyrics are often deeply spiritual and their music is top-notch. I mean, they created Joshua Tree. Even though Bono subscribes to some interfaith-ish beliefs, he's the world's largest rock star / social activist and thus, respectable.
Sighting: "Where The Streets Have No Name" in a mission trip slideshow at my old church, BCC.

Artist: Bob Dylan
Why: Well, he sort of became a Christian later on in life so this choice is kind of cheating. He's never, thankfully, been on a Christian label, though. But Dylan's beat-poet lyrics are loved by progressive Christians all across the land simply because he's probably the best lyricist alive today.
Sighting: Unknowingly sang one of his songs in my Indy church, Redeemer, as part of their liturgical service.

Artist: Coldplay
Why: Chris Martin has one of the smoothest, crooning voices. The only people that dislike Coldplay are music elitists bent on hating anything overly popular. And this is why Christians love Coldplay. Because everyone loves Coldplay. Their music is anything but raucous and their lyrics aren't even slightly offensive.
Sighting: Saddleback college group sang "Fix You" as one of their openers.

As usual, I would love to hear your input on the ridiculousness of this blog and/or suggestions for other artists to add to the list.

*I put the word "secular" in quotes because, really, it's rather absurd to label music as "Christian" or "not Christian." I only continue to use the word "secular" in order to differentiate it from music made on Christian music labels.


ggentry said...

Can't go wrong with Bob Dylan - very poetic - That Elvis guy was pretty good too - He could sing gospel or anything.

Truth invades all forms of music genre, but the best songs reflect the deepest parts of God's Truth - His Spirit, His Son, His Kingdom.

We have been created to relate to Him through music.

BT said...

Yup. You hit the nail on the head.

Curious: What Dylan song did you sing at Redeemer?

Other possibilities...

Arcade Fire: Jim Spiegel once said of their 2007 Neon Bible, "The best Christian album of the year?"

Dave Matthews: Listen to "Bartender". I was introduced to DMB at high school youth group.

John Mayer: I know it sounds crazy, especially for a guy with songs like "Your Body is a Wonderland" (blatant sexuality) or "Belief" (a critique of believing in anything at all), but most Christians I know have let themselves give in to his raspy falsetto and incredible guitar chops. At my old church in KY, they even played his song "Say" to illustrate what it looks like to ask for forgiveness and reconcile conflict b/w believers.

And a curve ball: David Bazan, I would argue, has made the opposite move (going from only popular among Christians as Pedro the Lion to achieving more widespread acclaim). Listening to his latest, I would argue he's less of a Christian than ever before, offering up songs full of doubt and cynicism and questioning. Yet I hear a number of Christians resonating with his honesty.

Anyway, enough of my rambling thoughts. Last thing: with regard to Coldplay and music snobs, I posted this a while back:


PS - I really like your blog.