Songs of Faith = Injustice against Music
For my first post with content, I would like to look at at contemporary Christian music. First off, I'm an athiest. I'm also a classically-trained pianist of moderate ability (I played seriously for 8 years), so I know music pretty well. I know that in the good ol' days of the Baroque period, church music was at the pinnacle of compositional achievement, with Bach, among others, writing powerful, uplifting, and complicated holy music. Personally, I find most Bach to be overly technical, but a lot of people like him. Second, my wife is a happy Christian who loves popular Christian music that she hears in church: she sings it in the shower, buys CDs of the stuff, and feels that it is very uplifting. You know what else it is? It's crap.
I'm not knocking the content (well, I could), rather I'm knocking its musical value. These songs are just plain awful. There is one song she has on our computer that sounds like it was a rejected ensemble song from an awards show, with about a hundred people singing, "Ce-le-brate ... Je-sus ... Ce-lebrate!" over and over again to repetetive and obnoxious John Tesh-style synthesizer music. Speaking of which, John Tesh is one person I'd seriously like to have kicked in the nuts.
The songs at the church we go to aren't much better. Since this church is fairly modern, they invariably play uplifting, peppy music. The styles vary, but what doesn't vary is their lack of musical complexity. Sometimes it's fluffy pop music, sometimes it's the new fashioned "wimp rock" (you know, that style of stuff that airhead teenage girls listen to when they want to rebel against Britney and her ilk, that only has three different guitar chords that are each played repeatedly for two measures, forming no melody whatsofreakinever), or sometimes it's adult contemporary, like Kenny G but with vocals. Regardless, there is no musical soul.
Now, I know there are some excuses, like the music and lyrics need to be easy so people can sing along. And I understand that. But I've noticed that it seems to extend beyond church singalongs as well. I know that this is unscientific, but in my experience, a lot of Christians tend to listen to fluffy crap music outside of church as well. My wife listens to pop and dance music, and prefers Britney (who can't sing) to Christina (who can). My religious friends in high school and university also listened to music of dubious quality, mainly country and pop. My non-religious friends tended to listen to Metallica or the Tragically Hip: music that without a doubt contains more talent and creativity.
Could it be that turning off your skeptical, critical mind when it comes to religion results in turning off those same skills when it comes to music?
I don't know. What I do know is that it still sucks, and I heartily recommend the South Park episode where Cartman forms a successful Christian rock band by taking pop-rock songs about love and replacing the words "baby" and "girl" with "Jesus."
In closing, there is a Christian song where the singer sings the line, "I can sing of your love forever," for the entire second half of the song (about 3 minutes). He doesn't really sing of Jesus's love forever; it only feels that way.