Sunday, March 15, 2009

The "Why?" of Christian media

This is a subject I've been thinking about for a little while, first in regard to Christian music, and second in regard to fiction.

There's a lot of say about Christian film, none of it really any good, so I'm skipping it for the time being. I may change my mind as this blog progresses.

First up - the book is coming along. Not as fast as I'd like - I didn't make two chapters this last week. The one chapter was slow, slow going. Very slow going. Golf tournament slow. Made for TV British historical melodrama slow (do you ever notice how fond the British are of whispering? Whispering women. Can't understand what they're saying, and it happens all the time. Sorry. Back on track...). But the chapter is finished, the next started, all will be well, and I'm still perfectly on target.

Totally lost my train of thought. Christian Media. Christian Music. I was thinking about Christian music last night while we were doing the dishes and making pizza (note to single women: marry the pizza man). Danny put on Michelle Tumes, and I found myself enjoying it. This is a bit unusual, since I really don't listen to Christian music anymore. The last few years, I've found it all somewhere between homogenous and weird. The last Christian CD I purchased was Todd Agnew's last release. I love songs from his first and second album, but the third had an identity crisis and was too weird (with the exception of the duet w/ RSJ) to listen to in my car with the windows rolled down. The artists I like best are all crossovers - Leigh Nash, Anberlin, and Lifehouse.

The growing trend I've seen in CCM is a gravitation toward very worship-driven music. And there's a place for that. I just can't listen to it all the time.

Maybe it's because I don't live in the Bible Belt.

My guess is that the worship-oriented stuff sells because people can't get it anywhere else. If they want something relaxing, they buy Enya; Country, Rascal Flats; Pop, Kelly Clarkson. Worship? Then they turn to CCM.

That's just my thought, and it may not be true. But it feels true, because if you look at what CCM put out around ten years ago, it's astounding. Early Nichole Nordman, Bleach, Caedmon's Call 40 Acres, The Normals, Rebecca St. James, Michelle Tumes, Early Kutless (before most of the band bailed), and...*sigh*...remember when the Newsboys stood up to the microphone? The Jars' original album, the first W's release? There were a lot of different sounds going on.

Now everything sounds like it's being mixed by the same band of music producers, and Christian music has become much more formulaic. And Christian rock? Rock & Roll (as Jack Black taught us in School of Rock) is about sticking it to the Man. Most Christians don't believe in sticking it to the man, and efforts to stick it to the prince of darkness haven't been terribly successful.

(Unless it's Demon Hunter, as my brother pointed out, especially with their 2007 release Storm the Gates of Hell. But that's Demon Hunter, and they're hard core.)

So that was my music theory: people don't buy Christian music unless they have to. Then I started wondering if they do the same with Christian fiction. Because what sells best in Chistian fiction is the really safe stuff. Edgy and applicable isn't selling, not unless it's historical or (here it comes...) Amish. If people want to think and read at the same time, they'll pick up something secular, or worse yet, non-fiction (gasp!).

(I heard you, back there in the corner with the nasally voice, there's The Shack. It know. It's just the one shack, though. There's a whole lot of non-shack drowning it out.)

I blog about Christian media fairly reguarly, because it's a real head-scratcher to me. I am heartened that Red's new release is second on Billboard's Christian charts, but then again we've got the fact that Christian media is a segregated art form, placed far away from secular fiction shelves and certain away from its musical genre counterparts.

Don't know what to do about this, because all of it's run by businesses who want to stay in business. Darn them. They want to produce things that will sell. And that's tough in a rocky economy.

Pray that the economy turns around. Economy turns around, recording labels and publishing houses get to a point when they can afford to take the occasional risk. I miss risks. They can be fun to listen to.

1 comment:

  1. When I was still in high school I listened to some Christian music and it was all right. I still don't 'get it' though.


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