Does Christian Music Really Suck?

Abbie Stancato of Rockin' God's HouseI’ve addressed this question more than once over the years. It’s not hard to find complaints about the quality and similar sound production within Christian music.

As a child I was forced to attend a traditional Catholic church. Part of the service was in Latin, and all of the music was hundreds of years old. Not to be disrespectful to those whose hearts are fulfilled with traditional music, but I hated it! Several years ago I entered a local church and found a home! The music was kicking and lively. It saved my life—or at least my eternal soul!

So, does Christian music suck?

On a forum I often visit I read several comments concerning variations in the styles of music used in churches and houses of worship. A majority believed a house of worship is no place for high production, or concert-style, Christian music. Yet another crowd complains all Christian music sounds the same. Are they correct?

There are some issues with the Christian industry, do they contribute…

Does Christian music suck because mainstream artists may be overly concerned about status quo, so they’re all writing similar music?

The Nashville Influence — Secular music spans the nation and the world. Its topics are vast and wide. This results in a wide variety of style. The Christian industry is based almost solely in Nashville, Tennessee. It is heavily influenced by country music and its ties to Sunday worship. I recently interviewed a Christian artist who went to Nashville and hired a top-notch producer for his new CD. The producer assembled a team of Nashville session players and songwriters in a studio, all with industry credentials. The song sounded awesome, but very generic and stereotypical. Without getting into the technical aspects of audio recording, they applied a standard formula to the song and cookie-cut a standard sounding song.

Concert music verses Sunday sing-a-long worship music — Sunday morning in church is for praise. Every praise team wants to engage the congregation and enjoy the sing along. This type of music may be good for Sunday morning, but not so much for radio airplay—especially if you’re not a hard core Christian or Christian music fan. A majority of music directors I’ve encountered believe church is no place for high production or concert style Christian music. Those churches tend to remove the diversity of a KLOVE-type variety. Additionally, because Christian artists get paid directly and indirectly for the songs we hear in worship Sunday mornings, they are sometimes writing their songs to fit the Sunday morning worship crowd.

Remake Crazy — Like no other industry, Christians will beat a great song to death. The secular industry usually waits for a new generation before considering releasing a remake as a brand new song. Some Christian artists will place a song on their new CD while the original is still on the charts. This may contribute to a feeling of staleness which may generate the Christian Music all sounds the same complain.

Finally – Bad Praise Teams I’ve been to so many churches where the musicianship, vocals, and production (lack of superior production) was terrible. Most newbies to a church will get their introduction to Christian music at church. Once hooked, they will begin to listen to Christian song downloads and eventually migrate to the radio. It is rarely the other way around. Therefore, if the praise band sucks, the assumption is that all Christian music sucks.

Does Christian music suck because most of it is not similar to a listener’s favorite secular genre or radio station?

Christian music has many different styles, and unlike secular music, EVERY Christian song is essentially based upon a single theme. And let’s face it, there are some people who are simply repelled by anything referencing Christ or religion. No matter how good the music may be, you lost them with the “We Love Jesus!” theme.

I Don’t Think Christian Music Sucks — I love Christian music. I don’t listen to secular stations or music. This is why it’s so important for praise teams to deliver quality music, and for Christian songwriters and radio stations to continue to take the music of God to the next level. I favor the requirement of quality musicians and vocalists and highly-trained sound personnel who bring a quality production to the table. Mediocrity may be acceptable to some, but those who grew up on everything except Christian music will think it sucks.

Sadly, many of those accepting mediocrity will never turn to the radio for a daily dose of spiritually uplifting Christian music. Some will find every reason to dislike ANY style of Christian music. For those whose souls we can affect, we should use every God-given skill He provides us which glorifies Him!

Christian music is whatever teaches and praises the Holy Trinity and reaches souls. There should be no rules. If you don’t like it, change it. Blaze a path and they will come!