If you are new to Christian rock, please read this
post about the definition of Christian rock and some of the biggest questions about Christian music.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Issue-Based Lyrics

With this post, I want to talk about Christian rock lyrics. Within Christian music, there are two types of lyrics: issue-based, and worship lyrics. I am going to talk about issue-based lyrics and the purpose of this style of lyrics.

For the most part, Christian rock is an evangelism tool. Most Christian bands believe it is their job to evangelize to the lost. They believe their true purpose is outreach, and, by doing this, they are giving praise unto God.

You may ask, “So how are Christian rock groups witnessing and evangelizing to people?” Christian bands do it in a variety of ways including: on stage performances, personal testimonies, one on one talks with fans, and interviews. But, the main way Christian rock bands evangelize to the lost is through their lyrics.

The target audience for most Christian rock bands is middle school through college. Yes, there are older and younger people than that listening to Christian rock, but the majority of listeners lie in this age group. Therefore, most Christian rock groups choose to sing about subjects/issues going on in teenagers' lives.

In my post about the definition of Christian Rock Music, I go into detail about issue-based lyrics. I will give you a quick recap. I speak about how bands choose from a wide variety of topics. Most bands sing about everything from positive issues, like prayer and witnessing, to negative issues, such as alcoholism and cutting. There is a very fine line that Christian bands walk on when singing about negative subject matter. Most bands choose to sing about these subjects because kids are dealing with these subjects everyday. Christian bands believe that they can reach out to kids and witness to them by meeting them wherever they are. They want to show teenagers that even though they are alcoholics, or they are cutting themselves, or they are doing drugs, that God still loves and cares for them. With this subject matter, there is one major difference between Christian rock bands and secular rock bands. Secular rock bands glorify these subjects. Secular bands glorify alcohol, drugs, and suicide. On the other hand, Christian bands are showing kids that these are wrong, but God still loves and cares for them.

When starting this post, I realized, there are so many bands and songs that I could talk about. So instead of leaving out important and influential songs, I have decided to break this up into two parts. This part I am going to share with you five songs that solely deal with issues going on in teenagers' lives today. I am going to use a variety of Christian rock genres and styles. I have a piano ballad, a punk rock ballad, an alternative rock song, a hip-hop song, and a hard rock song.

This first song is a piano ballad by the pop rock band Nevertheless. The song is called Topics and it was inspired by conversations the band had with kids after shows. In an interview, Nevertheless said so many kids were coming up to them after shows and spilling their guts. Teenagers were telling deep and dark secrets to the band because they did not feel comfortable talking to their parents or people in the church. This song highlights some problems that teenagers deal with. The goal of this song is to wake up the church to hurting kids. The band wants the church to again realize the idea of grace and not judgment.

Everything You Ever Wanted is a punk ballad by Hawk Nelson. This song is simply about divorce. It is told from the child’s point of view. The child is feeling guilt, shame, and anger over his dad leaving his family. But, that is not the point of the song. Hawk Nelson believes ultimately this song is about forgiveness and loving our enemies. “Things aren't perfect but that's life and we just need to know that. And this song says there is hope and you need to find resolution by forgiveness. And forgiveness is so essential, you know?” said lead singer Jason Dunn in an interview. This video features the band speaking about the meaning of the song and performing Everything You Ever Wanted.

The next song is an alternative rock song called The Way That You Are. This song, by The Classic Crime, is about standing up for yourself. The band uses a lot of examples of people going through tough times, and being told by everyone else that it is simply the way you are. In the song, The Classic Crime urges people that we should not be content in our problems, but we should look to God for healing and comfort. Even though we have so many hardships, sins, and disgrace, God still loves you just the way that you are.

This fourth song is a hip-hop song by KJ-52. This song is called Fanmail. This song is probably the most moving song on my list. Fanmail was conceived solely out of letters written to KJ from fans. The verses are excerpts from some of the received letters. This song talks about a wide variety of subjects including: cutting, rape, suicide, addiction to pornography, alcoholism, anger towards God, and struggling to fit in. The most important part of the song is the bridge. KJ-52 tells listeners that they are here for a reason and they are not a mistake. He goes on to say that Jesus Christ is waiting and willing to pick you up and help carry your burdens. Jesus Christ loves and cares for you, and desperately wants to have a relationship with you. This video is the actual music video shot for this song.

The final song is definitely one of the most unique songs Skillet has ever recorded. Throughout the song, John Cooper speaks the verses and sings the chorus. John Cooper believes this song is simply about making a difference in the world. “I feel the song 'Looking For Angels' is the most important and relevant song that I have ever written. It encompasses what my message is right now. With all the terrible things that are going on in the world, you can make a difference if you want to. You can be there for someone and you can be Jesus for someone who needs to experience that. You can be hope to someone who doesn't have any hope,” said Cooper in an interview with SoulShine. This video is the official music video of the song.

I hope you enjoyed this first look at some of the most important and influential songs in Christian rock. All of these songs are about issues happening in teenagers' lives today. Once again, these bands are reaching out to kids exactly where they are, and spreading the love of Jesus Christ.