From a very young age, I’ve wanted to be a Christian artist. I grew up listening to almost exclusively Christian music (Michael W. Smith, DC Talk, Switchfoot, Relient K, and Skillet). As I progressed as a musician and became a teenager, I was introduced to secular music and genres that are now my favorites such as classical, funk, jazz, progressive metal.
One day, in my last semester of college, I was on Spotify and came across a CMM Top 50 playlist. I hadn’t listened to any new Christian music in EIGHT YEARS. I was shocked at what I heard.
The music lacked musical creativity and was overproduced.
The lyrics were also lacking in any theological depth or substance.
As I continued to listen, all of the songs began to blend into each other. They seemed like they were written all by the same couple of people.
It is not my goal to tear down any specific Christian artists. I don’t think that all lyrics need to have the theological depth of John MacArthur in them. I also don’t think every song needs to be 12 minutes long, have a bazillion chords, and be the most complex thing you’ve ever heard in your life. There can be-- and should be-- songs that are simple in message, uplifting in tone, and easy to sing along with. Many mainstream Christian artists do these things very well, and I support them fully in doing it. There are also some less-mainstream-y artists (Kings Kaleidoscope, The Oh Hellos) that I think are doing some really interesting and creative things.
However, when most, if not all, of the songs on Christian radio are in one style, using the same five or six chords, around similar tempos, using similar lyric material, I have to ask the questions: “Where is the stylistic variety in mainstream Christian music? Where is the powerful storytelling in mainstream Christian lyrics? Where is, quite frankly, the musical skill in mainstream Christian music?” We serve an infinitely creative God. Why doesn’t, as Christians, our music at least somewhat reflect that?
I don’t want to pretend that my music is the complete answer to any of these questions. I’m simply hoping that the music that I write will bring a little variety to the Christian music industry. A little something that is lacking. My music won’t please everyone, but ultimately, I hope that it eventually encourages other Christians who are also musicians to put their most creative works out into the world, covering every genre imaginable.
I believe that there can be somewhat of a revival in this industry-- where there’s not just watered-down versions of secular music slapped with some generic inspirational message and called “Christian”, but where Christians actually write music as profound as their secular peers without lyrically becoming them.