Thursday, April 17, 2003

As I mentioned last time, I’ve been forcibly exposed to hours and hours of Christian contemporary music at my current workplace. As a result, I’ve noticed a few general trends in this genre that most people are fortunate enough to avoid.

- As many other people have noted, most Christian pop songs are just secular pop songs with God in the place of a man/woman as the object of the singer’s affections. I’ll spare you an 800 word essay on the parallel between the idealized and unreal form of love in secular pop songs and the idealized and unreal worship of an imaginary god.

- The gospel/soul influence has been completely removed, and what you have left is an incredibly shined, buffed, white musical experience. Even modern adult contemporary isn’t quite as stultifyingly dull as this stuff. It’s more than a little strange to me. C’mon, even Ned Flanders did the Bump once, are you telling me that this is really what uber-Christians want to hear all of the time? And why try to lose the influence of gospel music, which is one of the all time great cultural contributions of organized religion? Has gospel really been that sullied by its influence on blues and rock and roll?

- Lots of recycled melodies. I’ve heard songs that knock off “Candle in the Wind,” “Dance with Me” by Orleans, and “Somewhere” from West Side Story, just to name a few. Mostly major key, semi-up tempo, “uplifting” music.

- Children often die young in Christian pop songs. (I guess this is Sudden Emotional Manipulation Syndrome, the same tragic ailment that felled Bobby Goldsboro’s wife in “Honey” and the narrator in “Seasons in the Sun,” among others.)

- While I’m obviously not the target market here, I still wonder why this stuff has to be so dull and tedious. I’m sure there are great songs to be written about spiritualism and internal religious conflict and all of that. CCM is a nonstop rah-rah everything is great go Jesus kind of experience that’s ultimately not very revealing or moving in any sort of way. Instead of this, Christian stations should start playing 60’s free jazz - Coltrane’s later stuff, Albert Ayler, Archie Shepp, etc. - which is a lot more moving and successful in expressing spiritual uplift. But I’m not holding my breath.

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