07 May 2008

Angels and airwaves

I went through a phase listening to Christian rock, early in high school. Mostly it was the cooler, indie, below-radar bands like D.A., the 77s (that's singer Mike Roe at left), the Altar Boys, LifeSavers Underground, Common Bond, Undercover and the Level Heads. But yeah, I might've had a couple of Stryper records, and I still say there is one (1) Michael W. Smith record that didn't suck.

I came to my senses. Which shouldn't be construed as a knock against Christianity, but a knock against the industry of Christian music, which was trying extremely hard to create music that sounded just like the stuff coming from major record labels. So it was modeling itself on music that I thought was crap, in order to make Christians feel like they had a wholesome alternative to the radio, with songs that sounded exactly as bad as their secular counterparts. Artists were stifled by execs who didn't think the songs they were writing sounded enough like Mariah Carey or whoever the flavor of the month was then. It was those sorts of constrictions that led a young woman named Leslie Phillips to abandon her lucrative career in Christian music, rename herself Sam Phillips and sign to Virgin Records. She wanted the freedom to write spiritual music, and, interestingly, she didn't feel like she could do that on a Christian music label.

All this came to mind as folks alerted me to the launch of a new Christian radio station in Columbus. It's 103.7 The Truth. And if the industry as a whole still suffers from the above-mentioned problems, at least there's a more aggressive station for the holy roller set who don't want to listen to traditional gospel or Southern gospel. I see from their format's R&R charts that the Newsboys are still around — but I didn't like them to start with. Mercyme? Needtobreathe? (More like, Needtousethespacebar.) I don't know these guys. But hopefully there's some creativity coming out of them.

Tune in, if you want to find out.

***
"You lock me up with your expectations
Loosen the pressure you choke me with
I can't breathe
I can't breathe"
Leslie Phillips, "Expectations"

4 comments:

amanda said...

yeah and didn't you hear how they wouldn't let jessica simpson sign on b/c her chest was too big?? haha or so her dad says...

Brad Barnes said...

She sure landed on her... uh, feet.

Shannon Dew said...

as a Christian AND a musician, I can barely listen to contemporary Christian music or "CCM". How bland, derivative and uninspiring can you possibly be? You'd think a Christian artist would have "supreme" inspiration yet everything is a polished, manufactured "hit" that is a shallow copy of whatever the latest secular phase is...and the songs never deal with the reality of life or Christianity, merely the nice, plastered on "everything is peachy with me, brother!" version of Christianity...

I still have some 77's records laying around...and Steve Taylor and Resurrection Band...

Brad Barnes said...

Good to find another 77's fan, though I haven't liked much of what they've done in nigh on a decade. ... About the only old-schoolers I still keep tabs on are Daniel Amos/Swirling Eddies.