Why I Listen to Christian Music (+ My Top Recommendations)

Why I Listen to Christian Music (+ My Top Recommendations)

I broke up with Taylor Swift. And, unfortunately, I’m afraid that we are never ever getting back together.

I still remember the first time I heard Taylor Swift’s first single, “Tim McGraw.” It was so unique, so different, and so me. There was nothing else like it in country music at the time. There was no other artist popular at the time who was tall, with freckles and curly hair – no other artist who, had her hair been a different color, would have looked a little bit like me.

About three weeks ago, Taylor Swift released her long awaited sixth album, Reputation. This album has been hyped up for months, by fans and the media alike. Everyone seemed to know it was coming, and everyone lost their minds preparing. I mean, this is Taylor Swift. This is an event.

I awaited “Reputation Day” with a great deal of anticipation. I couldn’t wait to see what this new era of Taylor’s music would bring. (If you didn’t know, her fans consider each of her albums to constitute an era. It’s all very serious business.) I woke up that Friday morning ready to purchase an album. But in the age of music streaming services, I have changed a bit. I no longer immediately buy an album – I listen to it first. Reputation was not available on streaming services immediately, so instead I listened to the ninety-second samples of the songs on iTunes. And what I heard surprised me.

Yes, it was a different sound for Taylor, but that was to be expected from the singles released before the album, as well as from the simple fact that every album is a different sound for Taylor. That’s not what bothered me. It was the content of the lyrics. Some songs had my eyes widening and my cheeks reddening. Some songs I couldn’t even finish the preview of. In total, there were about five or six songs that I felt comfortable with.

I am an adult (more or less). If I deem these songs inappropriate for me to listen to, what does that mean for her much younger fans?

This reminded me of an experience LDS General Authority Elder Gene R. Cook shared in a talk he gave at BYU-Idaho in 1989. On a flight to Texas, he found himself seated next to Mick Jagger. So he asked him a question: “I have opportunity to be with young people in many different places around the world, and some of them have told me that the kind of music you and others like you sing has no effect on them, that it’s okay, and that it doesn’t affect them adversely in any way. Then other young people have told me very honestly that your kind of music has a real effect on them for evil and that it affects them in a very bad way. You’ve been in this business for a long time, Mick. I’d like to know your opinion. What do you think is the impact of your music on the young people?”

Mick Jagger’s response was a bit surprising, to say the least. Elder Cook continued, “This is a direct quote, brothers and sisters. He said, ‘Our music is calculated to drive the kids to sex.’ Those were his exact words. I’m sure I had a real look of shock on my face in receiving such a bold response. He quickly added, ‘Well, it’s not my fault what they do. That’s up to them. I’m just making a lot of money.’”

Surprising though it may be, Jagger’s answer makes sense. Satan has infiltrated every aspect of our lives. He does everything he possibly can to stop us from living righteously. Of course he would want to influence the music we listen to. How easy is it to get some random song that you’ve maybe heard one time stuck in your head? Very, I know.

As I have seen more and more artists turn to this mainstream secularism, I have often had to look for music alternatives elsewhere, even giving up songs by my favorite artists, or letting go of listening to them altogether. That doesn’t mean I don’t still listen to Justin Bieber, or Ed Sheeran, or Bruno Mars. I’ve just made it a goal to be even more vigilant and cautious.

I am not saying that you are a bad person if you listen to Taylor Swift, or Beyonce, or even Mick himself with the Rolling Stones. I definitely do not think that every artist or band who releases music that could be considered inappropriate does it with some evil intention. But I think we need to be careful about what we consume in terms of media. Garbage in, garbage out, right?

“And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”

– Romans 12:2

So, these alternatives to mainstream music… Well, I have found them in contemporary Christian music. I know Christian music gets a bad rap. It’s not “cool” or “popular” or whatever else is supposed to matter these days. But, through years of listening to Christian music, from being raised on artists like Steven Curtis Chapman and Nicole C. Mullen, I have found something very interesting: every single genre of music is present within Christian music as a sub-genre. You can find whatever you want – pop, country, hip hop, and, of course, worship.

I want to encourage you to add some Christian music into whatever you’ve got playing in rotation. Do it without judgment or expectations. Just see if you like it. See how it makes you feel, especially compared to other music. Don’t know where to start? Don’t worry – I’ve got some suggestions for you; I even organized them by sub-genre for your convenience. 😉

Pop //

  • Hollyn – Hollyn is a fairly new artist with an amazing voice. One day, while listening to some music on shuffle, I genuinely thought I was listening to a Selena Gomez song for the entire first verse of one of her songs. {My picks: “Alone (ft. Tru),” “In Awe,” “Can’t Live Without”}
  • TobyMac – Okay, TobyMac is kind of the boss of Christian music. Seriously. Back in the day, he was in a band called dcTalk that was instrumental in making Christian music more than just traditional gospel. His career has spanned decades, and his music just keeps getting better. {My picks: “Me Without You,” “Love Broke Thru,” “Made to Love”}
  • Britt Nicole – Britt is one of my all-time favorites. She’s one of those singers whose music has truly had a major impact on my life. I don’t know what I would do without so many of her songs. {My picks: “Through Your Eyes,” “All This Time,” “The Sun is Rising”}

Hip Hop //

  • Lecrae – There is literally no other person like Lecrae on earth. He was once living a life that he says was full of sin, until he turned everything around and vowed to live unashamed. His story is so inspiring, and he’s better than most mainstream rappers out there, in my humble opinion. {My picks: “Welcome to America,” “I’ll Find You (ft. Tori Kelly),” “Broken (ft. Kari Jobe)”}
  • NF – NF is a newer artist, but he is fantastic. He’s quickly become one of my favorites with his intense rapping and message. He’s also breaking into top forty radio, sharing a positive message with a broader audience. {My picks: “Therapy Session,” “Oh Lord,” “I’ll Keep On (ft. Jeremiah Carlson)”}
  • Derek Minor – Lecrae’s protégé definitely has the talent of his mentor. He’s pretty awesome live too. {My picks: “Change the World (ft. Hollyn),” “Ready, Set, Go,” “Fresh Prince”}

Alternative //

  • Needtobreathe – NTB is my favorite band, period. I have seen them live five times. There are no words to describe the love I have for them, and how they have affected my life. Isn’t that what music’s all about? {My picks: “Hard Love,” “Brother,” “Washed by the Water”}
  • John Mark McMillan – JMM is a newer favorite of mine. He is also great live, and has some of truest alternative Christian music you’ll find. {My picks: “Future / Past,” “Enemy, Love,” “Carbon Ribs”}
  • Tenth Avenue North – I have no words for TAN. They have made some of my darkest moments bearable. Their music is what healing sounds like. And they happen to be five of the nicest guys ever. {My picks: “Times,” “I Have this Hope,” “Love is Here”}

Singer-Songwriter //

  • Ellie Holcomb – Ellie is actually in a band that I love with her husband, Drew Holcomb & the Neighbors. She’s recently decided to release some of her own music, and it is stunning. Her rootsy sound combined with scripture-inspired songs is a beautiful mix. {My picks: “He Will,” “The Broken Beautiful,” “Red Sea Road”}
  • Steffany Gretzinger – Steffany has one of the most beautiful voices. She often lends her talents to Bethel Music (we’ll get to them in a minute), but she has also released her own solo album, full of nothing but beauty. {My picks: “Letting Go,” “No Fear in Love,” “Out of Hiding”}
  • JJ Heller – I will admit, I’m not very familiar with JJ’s music, but a few of her songs have definitely stood out to me, and encouraged me greatly. {My picks: “Braver Still,” “Sound of a Living Heart,” “What Love Really Means”}

Country //

  • Zach Williams – Zach is a pretty new artist who has quite literally burst onto the scene. His songs are fun, and have a great southern rock vibe. {My picks: “Fear is a Liar,” “Old Church Choir,” “Chainbreaker”}
  • Crowder – Crowder is just the man. He’s been around forever, and he’s ridiculously funny. He also looks like he stepped straight out of Duck Dynasty. {My picks: “My Victory,” “Come as You Are,” “Lift Your Head, Weary Sinner”}
  • Rend Collective – This Irish group makes me want to dance around a bonfire. I think that explains it all. {My picks: “More than Conquerors,” “Joy of the Lord,” “Build Your Kingdom”}

Rock //

  • Skillet – Full disclosure: Skillet is intense, hard rock. They can be a bit frightening at times, actually. But if this is your thing, more power to you. {My picks: “Stars,” “Feel Invincible,” “Awake & Alive”}
  • Colton Dixon – Remember this guy from American Idol? He totally should have won. I’ve seen him live, and he’s great. I also met him once, and he smells really good, so there’s that. {My picks: “Anchor,” “Never Gone,” “Walk on the Waves”}
  • For King & Country – FK&C is a little bit of a stretch for rock, I’ll admit. But they’re rock-ish. And they are fantastically inspiring, so it’s all good. {My picks: “Shoulders,” “Priceless,” “Fix My Eyes”}

Light Worship //

  • Lauren Daigle – I feel like there’s a difference between straight-up hands-raised, praising worship, and something a bit softer. Lauren is a great example of this. She’s also just a great human. {My picks: “Trust in You,” “First,” “Here’s My Heart”}
  • Chris Tomlin – I’ve been listening to this guy forever, and I love him. Few artists have transcended the years as well as he has. {My picks: “Home,” “Good, Good Father,” “Love Ran Red”}
  • Meredith Andrews – I feel super cool because I liked Meredith Andrews before everyone else. I’m a total hipster, I know. {My picks: “Soar,” “Worth it All,” “The Gospel Changes Everything”}

Worship //

  • Bethel Music – I was skeptical about Bethel at first, but I have completely fallen in love with them. They are a group hailing from a church with the same name, and have multiple vocalists. I feel like their songs are so inspiring and uplifting, and I definitely recommend them. {My picks: “Pieces,” “Ever Be,” “Extravagant”}
  • Kari Jobe – I love Kari Jobe an awful lot. She is such an amazing person. Her incredible music is just a bonus. Here album Where I Find You is my go-to on bad days. {My picks: “Steady My Heart,” “Find You on My Knees,” “The Cause of Christ”}
  • Hillsong United – Ahhhhhhhhh. I love Hillsong United so much. (Their counterpart Hillsong Worship is amazing too.) Their music is the real deal. {My picks: “Touch the Sky,” “So Will I (100 Billion X),” “Not Today”}

So, take my challenge and give Christian music a chance. After all, you’ve got so many great recommendations now! These artists and bands are truly so special to me, and there are so many more I love that didn’t make the list. (So if you want more ideas, hit me up.)

“For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”

– Matthew 6:21

 

{ featured image by Leio McLaren on Unsplash }

Advertisements

2 thoughts on “Why I Listen to Christian Music (+ My Top Recommendations)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s