- Save me, I'm lost. Lord, I've waiting for you.
- My tongue dances behind my lips for you
- All alone, smoking his last cigarette, where were you?
- I wanna get right with God, you know you gotta get right with God
- You make my teeth clench and my hands shake, do you ever see what you do to me?
Is it the record label? Switchfoot brushed off the description and for a long time resisted playing in Christian festivals even though their first label before going mainstream was Christian rock powerhouse Tooth and Nail.
Is it where it is sold? Evanescence vehemently opposed the description even though their first album was heavily promoted in Christian stores by their label. It took a near lawsuit to remove their album from the shelves.
Is it the radio station that plays it? Take the lyrics above. Sometimes you can find more redemptive value in mainstream rock than in some songs that are labeled Christian. I'll cheat and give you one answer from above- #5 above is from Anberlin's "Impossible" and is played frequently on Air1. The chorus, "Take what you want from me, it means nothing now..." sounds like surrendering to God. But the verses have more of a double entendre. The song, thematically, is very similar to Hoobastank's "The Reason" yet Hoobastank pulls a fast one in their video.
Disciple, Thousand Foot Krutch, Flyleaf, POD I first heard on the "new rock" stations. Switchfoot, Lifehouse, Mat Kearney, Anberlin, Mutemath I am just as likely, if not more so, to hear on an alternative hits station.
Is it the faith of the artist? Mat Kearney was interviewed a year or so ago in Relevant magazine and didn't once mention God. Yet, he has become more explicit in expressing his faith on his second album.
Flyleaf has been quoted, "I don’t know what you mean by a “Christian rock band.” It’s hard to say that because people all have a different definition of what that means. If it means that we’re Christians, then yeah, we’re Christians, but if a plumber’s a Christian, does that make him a “Christian plumber?” I mean we’re not playing for Christians. We’re just playing honestly and that’s going to come out"
Meanwhile, Chad Wolf from Carolina Liar (not a "Christian" band) said about his song (#1 above), "If someone thinks I'm singing about God in this song then I'm honored to have made that connection."
Or go back to Anberlin and their lead singer Stephen Christian, "I don't care who listens to our records. If it helps people in whatever circumstances they're in, that's amazing, but I definitely don't classify us as a Christian band." and elsewhere, "[My faith] affects every single aspect of my life, but I'm not a preacher, I'm an entertainer."
My favorite though has to be from Switchfoot frontman Jon Forman, "For us it's a faith, not a genre."
And isn't that the bottom line? Isn't the label Christian about describing one's faith, not one's marketing campaign? If the stats are correct that roughly 80% of Americans call themselves Christian, then wouldn't it follow that many music artists would identify themselves as Christian? And wouldn't it therefore be expected that those values come through in their music even if not labeled as such?
Listen outside of the box. You might be surprised what you hear.
(And the answers above: 2, 3, and 5 receive regular airplay on Christian stations. 2-Flyleaf "All Around Me", 3-The Fray "Where Were You?", 5-Anberlin "Impossible". #1 is Carolina Liar "Show Me What I'm Looking For" and #5 is Lucinda Williams "Get Right With God".)