Friday, June 02, 2006

You'll Never Adam and Eve It

I've just watched, and enjoyed, 20 minutes of Christian TV. Now, don't panic and reach for a calming pack of Testamints, this is all about music.

The four religious channels on my satellite TV (and more programming on the off-hours on other channels) are typically dire, ranging from American evangelists who believe you can receive God by being shouted at, being patronised and by ringing in and making a donation to the other extreme of near-death nuns who somehow have got on TV so they can ramble on to an audience who is probably asleep within 5 minutes.

I've heard 'Christian Music' before and, it's typically of an ilk - the stuff aimed at the 'youth' is cheery, poppy, uplifting stuff. It typically sucks. There was a period when Stryper seemed to be the only non-sappy music I'd ever heard with their 80's Glam Metal.

It's been a long time since I've heard any "Christian" popular music and just happened to be Channel Surfing when I happened past 'JCTV' and heard real music.

The first band I heard was Failure On - really good Melodic Metal - good tune, check - good screaming lyrics, check - good and heavy, check.

Now, according a review on Amazon "This band wears their Christianity on there (sic) sleeves" but the great thing about Metal is that you can't usually work out the lyrics until you've listened to a song many times through, so it's perfectly safe!

Next up was Flyleaf - fronted by a girl and overall it didn't hang together quite as well as the first band but still pretty good.

Pillar - tuneful Punk Rock (american definition), not bad at all.

August Burns Red - heavy, thrashy metal of the sort where the lyrics could have been anything at all. Bit thrashy for my tastes but still pretty good.

I guess it bodes reasonably well for Christianity that they're trying to do something to relate to real people, rather than trying to assume that everyone should 'conform' to the goody, goody stereotype of pastel colours, gentle music, etc.

I guess it's unfortunate for these bands to be labelled in this way (although they choose it) - the style of music was definitely mainstream but the tag will apply a stigma to the music for a lot of people. Failure On seemed particularly good (although they appear to have broken up already). Would a band that is tagged as a 'Christian Band' ever be able to make it really big?

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

U2?

dB said...

There's a big difference to being religious and in a band to being in a religious band.

I think this extract from Wikipedia bears me out.

"October is U2’s only overt Christian rock album and is generally held to be among their least successful work"

If people have beliefs but don't try to push them, people will listen to the music for the music.

In fact Wiki has an article entirely about Christian Metal which goes on to say:

...many fans of secular heavy metal do not consider Christian metal to be a real form of metal, even though the Christian bands often sound very similar to their secular counterparts.

and

...there are several general-market metal bands who do not identify themselves as a "Christian band" but who still use their lyrics to portray God in a positive light. A common reason that they cite is easier access to the secular market.

This does seem like a logical argument as of the extensive list of Christan Metal bands linked from the site, I've only got a CD by one of them and I had no idea that they were a Christian band.

At the end of the day, it's all down to marketing. Most people can only attract one audience or the other and it takes a careful management of your profile, advertising and lyrics to attract both.

anonymous2 said...

kin ell, it's only rock and roll

anonymous2 said...

but i like it

portuguesa nova said...

Yikes! Radio is sooooooooo bad around here that I (a total heathen) can only tolerate listening to music on the Christian stations...and I agree, it is surpisingly good stuff sometimes.

dB said...

I'm not surprised. I've been to the Midwest and trying to find a radio station that isn't all polkas and live from the Grand Ole' Opry kind of music is not that easy!

pete said...

As I believe I have stated elsewhere, Wikipedia is source only of people talking out of their bottoms.