I was raised in a Southern Baptist household where much of my music purchases were always scrutinized before they were allowed to happen. I wasn’t always allowed to buy what I wanted, which probably explains why I’ve tried to seize everything I can get my hands on since then.
Suffice it to say, I had a large sampling of Christian music growing up. We made frequent stops to LifeWay Christian Bookstores and I’d always browse the music. My mother always had a fair amount of compilations and popular ‘contemporary Christian artists’ (read: praise pop music that isn’t gospel) sitting around. Car trips were always a blast.
There was a teen-friendly Christian club in Hendersonville called First Rock or perhaps it was First Planet on the Rock. Either way, I learned that just about any secular genre had a Christian counterpart. Not unlike the South Park episode, always replace ‘baby’ with the word Jesus, and you’ll have a hit.
I saw nu-metal, rap, ska, grunge, pop, and other sorts of music that were popular with the kids back in the early 2000s.
I was a master at the fooseball table, but always loathed the prayer sessions before the concerts.
I no longer identify as a Christian, but I still find some of its music entertaining. Let’s start out with something most people have heard of:
Stryper! This was actually the song that convinced me to make this post. I had never heard this band up until last week when my girlfriend and I were just groping around YouTube looking for music. She showed me this, and I was like, “Hell yeah!” No pun intended.
It’s just like the rest of your 80s hair metal, possibly even a bit better. It still talks about being bad, sin, hell, and Satan too!
Then there’s always Petra:
My stepdad had this album, and suggested I listen to it. It reminded me of all those prog-rock and arena rock bands of the era. I enjoyed the riffs, although the lyrics were cheesy.
Petra have since changed members many times, and I don’t really like it as much.
The first cassette I ever had was from a band called DC Talk. It was the only ‘rap’ I was really allowed to listen to. So it goes. Sure, it’s funky, but is this really rap music?
Anyway, I much preferred their album “Jesus Freak.” It was a bit more modern, and far less lame. For example:
Then they turned grunge/nu-metal to some degree. Not sure what happened. I didn’t mind, the song was always really catchy. I still get the tune stuck in my head every once in a while.
DC Talk was one of my favorites back then, but I found myself listening to much more Newsboys as time went on. They were a little less abrasive, but had a more 90s ‘weirdo’ aesthetic.
Reminds me of Barenaked Ladies for some reason now, and a little bit of No Doubt with the stylistic choices of the video. I thought this stuff was so hip. Really though, it kind of was.
The problem I’ve noticed with some of these bigger Christian acts is that they tend to change their sound dramatically. I can’t assume that they do it to reach new audiences ‘for Jesus,’ but I can’t think of any other reason due to its frequency. Almost all the bands listed here seem to have deviated severely from what they originally sounded like. Maybe I’m nitpicking.
There also seemed to be a fair amount of Christian ska music that made its way into secular record stores. I remember chatter about The O.C. Supertones and Five Iron Frenzy from the skater crowd growing up. I just thought that they were more trendy punk bands or something.
Many of the metalcore and ska bands that claimed they were Christian eventually stopped doing that or had members leave who lost their faith. That’s speculative, and I can only really name a few examples like ZAO and Five Iron Frenzy. Though the latter seems to have reconciled that.
I’ll leave you guys with a Five Iron Frenzy video: