Why I don't listen to Christian music anymore

I have an issue with Christian music. Oh hi, by the way. I'm a Christian. *waves* I'm not 100% sure if this is heresy, but that's okay, I'm going to forge ahead anyways.


I grew up with a musical diet of 90% Christian music. Christian radio station, Christian bands, Christian playlists, Christian Christmas music... The other 10% consisted of classical music and whatever I was forced to listen to on the radio while I was in a public setting, ie the grocery store. 

I was a broke young child and couldn't buy my own music, so my parents bought the music they thought I should be listening to and downloaded it onto my iPod for me. This was great, because I'm sure my young, impressionable mind needed something a little more wholesome than whatever was on the radio at the time. 

When I was thirteen, I obtained my first personal electric device with Internet access. My beloved iPad. Over the following years, I would graduate from parental-approved iTunes music to YouTube to Spotify and I would be introduced to an incredible scope of music. Slowly, I began listening less and less to Christian stuff and more and more to "secular" music. One look at my Spotify playlists will confirm this. (Some of the songs even have *gasp* swearing in them.) Scrolling through my recently played list will reveal maybe two religious songs, max. 

I was raised with the notion that what goes in is what comes out. Secular music in, sin comes out. While I 100% agree that media influences us, I have issues with this idea. It was Holier Than Thou to stay "pure" and listen to "safe" music, and if you dared to stray too far, well, stay back tempter. (Maybe being a bit dramatic there, but it gives you a good idea of my Bible Belt-ish church.) 

It's taken me a long time to figure out why I've outgrown the music of my childhood. I've given it a lot of thought, and this is what I've come up with. 

1. Maybe it's a little bit of rebellion
If we're being honest here (and I am), it's really not cool to let your parents pick your music when you're in university. And if I'd kept to the safe picks of my childhood, I'd lose my mind from listening to the same bands over and over again. I had to diversify or die, dudes. 

2. Christian music is too repetitive 
Literally, you often repeat the same lines between ten and twenty times per song. I DO NOT HAVE THAT ATTENTION SPAN. I can barely focus long enough to write a blog post, let alone sing the same lines for a million times. 

3. The Christian music industry is too safe
From my experience as a consumer of the Christian music industry, something began to feel a little too... safe. It feels as if the industry is an alternative to the mainstream music industry, offering shallow lyrics and catchy beats instead of addressing the issues that need to be address. It's a feel good, repeat the previous success fluff. Take a look at these lyrics:

You gotta shake, shake, shake
Like you're changed, changed, changed
Brand new looks so good on you
So shake like you've been changed

Come on and shake, shake, shake like you're changed
Shake, shake, shake like you're changed


It's from MercyMe's song Shake, and it's very similar to many Christian songs I've listened to. (To be fair, I really like this song but there's just no substance to it.) 

I've found so many "secular" artists and songs that push the boundaries of lyrics, of how songs are composed and arranged and fit together. Sure, there's heaps of junk out there but I've yet to find an artist who can showcase God's beauty through their religious music. It seems the moment you label a song "Christian" is the moment the artist conforms to the tropes and clichés of the genre. I shouldn't have to search so hard to find something creative by the people God has called to be creative. 

For a religion that's about pushing the boundaries, it feels pretty safe to me. 

Tell me about your experiences with religion and music in the comments. Am I the only one who feels this way? 

Comments

  1. Ugh, thank you! There's so little good Christian music for just the reasons you listed above. Nobody seems to understand why I don't listen to a lot of it. Most of it is repetitive, shallow, and really lacking in most regards. And even when some of it is labeled "Christian", they seem to really mean "A generally fluffy theology that the universe or God or something is going to work things in my favor".

    That doesn't mean I think that music doesn't influence us. I wish there was more good Christian music out there that I could listen to. (When I'm struggling with certain sins that are glorified in most secular music, I'd like a refuge to hide from that relentless pounding of an ideology so I don't get stuck with three or four CD's). Instead, I just try to be reasonable with the music I listen to. Does the song plant impure thoughts in my head? Or does it lead me to think more like I want to think (even if it's not a Christian song)? It's sad that we have the greatest story of all time to tell and we can't even write decent music about it.

    On a related note, this is why I'm a fan of hymns over contemporary music in worship. They tend to repeat less and have more depth to them.

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  2. Gosh, I can't say this isn't true.

    I've always listened to Christian music since I was a child but mainly African praise and worship (sometimes African American like Kirk Franklin and Mary Mary). I started to listen to secular music at around 12? I also found CCM at around 13/14 years old. I used to listen to a lot of CCM but now I mainly stick to Jamie Grace, Morgan Harper Nichols, Lauren Daigle, Moriah Peters (but she's now part of TRALA which is a group I'm still confused about), Brandon Heath... okay maybe still quite a few xD But not Christian rock or club music or whatever.

    Now I mainly listen to music in a different language (predominantly Korean), though I'm kinda used to that because of the African praise and worship. I find that Korean music has such a wild variety that I can't find in non Korean music. I know everyone thinks it's all Kpop and plastic surgery and glitter but when you go into the more indie side, you'll find some real hidden gems. The fanbase is also way better, as expected. AKMU <3 Not bashing the more popular music ones because so many of them are so talented yet so underrated and underpaid? But I won't go there...

    Then again, I even listen to Korean Christian music (though I understand it way less, being unfamiliar with Christian vocab). It's pretty chill but is even more generic than Christian music in English (then again, you can't blame them). I want to listen to more indie-style Korean Christian or even Spanish music. I am not the biggest fan of Spanish music. So much Reggaetón. I can't deal with that.

    And so many artists of all the genres I've listed above are using EDM. Please stop :/

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    Replies
    1. And to clarify what I said above, I don't think it's bad that artists are using EDM but I wish they would reduce it a bit, you know? It's getting a bit much...

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