April 3, 2008

Christian porn, however, is totally inferior

It's official: Christian rock doesn't suck. Last night I debated the topic with rock singer Brian McCarter, who was arguing that it does. At the end of the evening the room voted something like 45 to 4 in support of my position. Not only that, McCarter himself started saying things like, "I may be totally wrong about this," and, "I now disagree with what I said at the beginning."

I hope to get a video of the debate up on YouTube soon. I know at least one loyal radosh.net reader was in attendance, and if she wants to post her thoughts, that would be swell. For now I'll say that though I won on the strength of my arguments, it probably didn't hurt to have some songs to play, including these.

Posted by Daniel Radosh


You totally kicked that guy’s ass! I think that McCarter’s side should have been easier to prove, but his narrow definition of rock music surprised me, and I think it weakened his case. His first rebuttal was fair – he said there wasn’t anything to rebut yet, because he needed to hear some examples of the music you were talking about to form an opinion. But then you played the music, and he liked the Larry Norman song, so his case was essentially over. The medley was great – the techno song was my favorite.

It was interesting to me that the definition of Christian rock was changed specifically to exclude Sixpence None the Richer from getting an award (am I getting that right?). I didn’t know this, and it countered McCarter’s argument well. I was a bit confused by the exchange between McCarter and the pastor in the audience about Christianity and sacrificial love, but I’ve decided to let that go.

McCarter’s concession at the end was funny, but I sort of got the impression that he wasn’t well prepared for the debate, and decided compensate by being witty and self effacing instead. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

I didn't know David St. Hubbins became a christain rocker.

Also Daniel you should check out this girl named Misty Edwards, she's a part of the end times movement based here in my hometown of Kansas City. I've gone to that church to see her play with her band and to put it simply- they rock. Very tight band with long musical improvs that would put the Grateful Dead to shame. Plus she's attractive and has a great voice.

End times movement rock? Thats fucking hard core.

OK, Just checked out Misty Edwards -- from the name I was wondering if I might have been wrong about Christian porn.

I gotta say, it's... not my thing. I heard a lot of totally competent praise and worship music and hated it all. Sounds like Misty might be among the better performers in this genre, but she's still got that formulaic "slow build to ecstasy" anthem thing going on. I know I'm not the intended audience, but I don't hear any heart in it.

Yeah I just looked at the youtubes myself and thought she sounded average.

Oh well. If she ever does go into christian porn I'll be the first to let you know.

You joke about Christian porn but I'd lie to point out some common dialog:

"Oh my God!"

"God, that feels great."

"Oh God, Yes! Yes! Yes!"

et. al.

And then there's the Christian porn about the Second Coming...

I remember one band that you linked a video to that was pretty good, they were wearing
sweatsuits and running around and the lead singer had a beard. Besides that video, the rest of the Christian stuff you have posted is pretty dull. Is there a Led Zepelin or Rolling stones of Christian rock? I don't see really great rock in the Christian scene, just enough decent stuff that you could argue it doesn't "suck" [a pretty low bar to win a debate, really]. where is the music to convince us that there is some good Christian music, not that it simply doesn't suck?

Last anon-

Fair or unfair, my expectations for Christian rock were so low that merely proving it didn't suck was sufficient. I think the strength in the medley was showing how eclectic the genre is. The techno piece, for example was completely unexpected, and I liked it for that reason alone. As for the Led Zeppelin or Rolling Stones of Christian rock, are you referring to style, popularity, or quality? I think it would be hard to make that comparison for any contemporary band, not just Christian rock bands.

The band with the sweatsuits is mewithoutYou, track 2 on that embedded audio player. They're probably my fave right now and you can find several videos of them on YouTube. You might also like The Myriad. Deborah's point is correct, though of course it's easy to name the Bob Dylan of Christian rock.

The 77s are sometimes considered the best Christian rock band of all time. Hard to find any of their music online, though. (The 3rd track in the audio player is the lead singer doing a live performance of one of their songs, but the sound quality is pretty lousy).

mewithoutyou is the band to which I was alluding so vaguely, and I like it and have listened to that a few times. As for asking for a Christian Led Zepelin, I was looking for a band which is simply considered to be the best in the Christian scene, a universally (among Christians and perhaps beyond) respected and listened to band. The 77s may be that, but I haven't found and quality recordings on line. The real crux here is, what is a Christian band? I think it has to be a band which characterizes itself as Christian above all else and all of whose lyrics in some way (however tangentially) are about Christianity. The reason that Christian bands seem to suck is that the criteria for greatness among some Christians is not how good the music is but how Christian they are or how many times they pray in a set (see Rapture Ready excerpt on Amazon). Among bands that do really make good music and achieve widespread popularity, the trend is to abandon the out and out Christian angle and go mainstream, so whats left as overtly Christian is the bands who just didn't achieve alot of popularity. In the end it seems that Christian music sucks because bands that are great transcend the Christian label (or purposefully abandon it) and that a band marketing itself as Christian allows it to tap into a less critical music scene which is not looking for the best sound but simply the best Christian sound.

All I'll say now is that this definitional debate is tackled thoroughly in Chapter 9 of Rapture Ready! in stores now-ish.

dude, not only does christian rock suck, so does your musical taste! what a bunch of crappy songs you used as a pro christian rock argument! i don't know any of those bands, but they all suck. the first one is so bad it made me laugh. the second folky number (so it's not rock) is cringe worthy and the final electronic piece - the least puke inducing of the lot - has practicaly no lyrics - if at all - i didn't have the patience to listen to it until the end, so why call it christian at all? because the guy goes to church?
having said that, my final argument is this: rock n' roll - like the blues - is the devil's music and that's the way it should be to be. it's about sex, drugs, fast cars, chicks and sex and... rock n' roll! it's got nothing to do with god, or angels, or not getting ghonorrea! it's about boozing and womanizing and having a hell of a good time... there is no such thing as christian rock, it's a contradiction. and thank god for that!

I see Milton is trying out the same argument that lost the debate: narrow the definition of rock in an attempt to make the debate impossible for you to win. Didn't work then, still doesn't work.

If I'd been on the other side of the debate, I probably would've used a percentage argument: that perhaps some Christian bands don't suck, but those bands are a tiny subset of the genre of "Christian rock", and if 1% of Christian rock is good but 99% of Christian rock sucks, I think one can make a good argument that this means that "Christian rock" as a collective genre does, in fact, suck.

On the way home, Jim Hanas floated yet another possible counterargument, which is that sure, Christians can rock. But *Christianity* sucks, therefore Christian rock sucks, QED. A controversial approach, but I thought it had its charms.

Oh, and on the subject of techno -- how do Christians feel about Fatboy Slim's "Praise You"?

I had a response prepared for Jim's argument: bad news for the Sistine Chapel.

To answer the question about Fatboy Slim - "Praise You" is a great song, but we're not yet replacing the "gloria" in mass. Although we could.

Dan, you've convinced me. Of course, there are a couple philosophical issues: a non-Christian could do a great song that a Christian could hear as "Christian," and a Christian could probably write a song that had no spiritual references.

I would hope a Christian could write a song about getting laid.

Lots of Christian rock has no "spiritual" references. The 4th track in the audio player above is an example.

Is Spirit in the Sky a great song?

As for the last part, in the debate I cited Love Cocoon by Vigilantes of Love and Rapture by Pedro the Lion. I'm sure there are more.

i was not trying to narrow the definition of rock. those same definitions are what make great rock n' roll songs - plus a few broken hearts and lonely nights... still, you can say whatever you want in a song and make it rock - but preaching simply does not work! if you want to hear a sermon go to chearch! i did like Francis' friend argument that "christianity" sucks and hence so does christian rock. and yes, if 99% of christian bands suck, well... i do enjoy some of P.O.D.s stuff. i guess you can call them christian rock, right?

sorry, i didn't spell "church" right on my last comment.
but something else just occurred to me... why does there even have to be such a thing as "christian rock"? why can't christians listen to good old regular rock? it's a sin? it leads you into temptation? you're going to do tons of drugs and have orgies until judgement day because of some silly motley crew lyric? or, for that matter, commit suicide?
i was born and baptized a 7th day adventist - i don't go to church anymore, and i think that religion as a whole stinks and is the cause of too many problems today. but even in my teens, when i still went to church, i listened to the stones, zep, sabbath, and anything else i liked. and i can assure you it did not make me a lesser christian. could it be that "christian rock" is for people who are so insecure in their faith that even such a simple and mundane thing as a rock song threatens their beliefs? sounds like the preacher who threatens his congregation with hellfire for having sex before marriege and is latter found by his wife in bed with a whore.

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