I cannot speak for everyone, but I absolutely loathe listening to Christian music radio. Don’t get me wrong, I once listened to it when I was in middle school (10 years ago); but even then I remember thinking, “These songs are so old. Let’s get some new jams up in here.” The same songs I was tired of listening to then are the same songs that I hear when I turn on Christian radio today. It is like Philips, Craig, & Dean’s ‘Greatest Hits’ is stuck in their CD player. It is atrocious. And I realize that not every Christian radio station suffers from this time lapse, but would it be wrong to say that most do? If not most, at least those in the Charlotte, NC area do.
Now, I am not saying that these songs weren’t great songs (in a sense) when they were first released. They probably had some ‘aesthetic draw’ for people when they heard them for the first few years. But music gets updated with each generation, and thus, the aesthetic value gets placed within a new means, a new avenue. If music is going to be effective in its designed end – i.e. to move the affections – then it must engage in those means which our generation is familiar with and moved by. There is a lot to delve into there – e.g. the physiological effects of music, the role of poetry in the Christian life, the redemption of cultural means being utilized by the church, etc. – but I think we can all agree that music is a valuable resource for Christians, and therefore ought to be designated to honorable and communicable stewardship.
This put me on a search for great Christian music. And I want to clarify something right off the bat: Christian music is simply music produced by followers of Jesus Christ. Every Christian song does not have to mention the substitutionary atonement of Jesus or the biblical narrative, but it does need to reflect a biblical and Christ-centered worldview of reality. So then, I’d like to provide you with some of my favorite Christian bands (not including those great “corporate worship bands”), ranging from a wide variety of genres; but most importantly, these bands are engaging in the culturally recognizable aesthetic of music. The reason I love these bands is because they revel in the glory of God found in the gospel of Jesus Christ in their lyrics, and they do so from many directions, with excellence in their craft.
Also see: Dustin Kensrue, Josh Garrels, Pilgrim, Will Reagan & The United Pursuit, Rivers & Robots, Propaganda, The Oh Hellos, and Wilder Adkins.
Hopefully this will jump-start your discovery of honest, honorable, and relevant Christian music.