NY Times: Ten Great Christian Rock Songs

It’s not hard to demonstrate that Christian rock is often… even usually… cheesy, derivative, and shallow. Much of it sounds like commercials for Jesus rather than artistic endeavor.

But there are exceptions, although I’d prefer to take the modifier “Christian” off of those songs and just call them Songs… Good Songs.

On April 16, The New York Times ran a column by Daniel Radosh, who identifies himself as a secular Jew, author of Rapture Ready: Adventures in the Parallel Universe of Christian Pop Culture.

Here, Radosh offers a list of 10 Christian rock songs worth hearing. And I’m very pleased by some of his choices. The comments on that page include some familiar names too, like Nick Purdy.

Can you name ten Christian rock songs that would qualify as great rock songs?

And if you were going to list five dos and don’ts for Christians who are songwriters, what would they be?

Thanks to David Buckna for the link!

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About Jeffrey Overstreet

Jeffrey Overstreet has two passions: writing fiction, and celebrating art — music, cinema, photography, literature — through writing and teaching. He is the author of a “memoir of dangerous moviegoing” — Through a Screen Darkly. And his four-novel fantasy series, The Auralia Thread, which begins with Auralia's Colors, was published by Random House. He speaks at universities and conferences around the world about understanding art through eyes of faith. He is earning his MFA in Creative Writing at Seattle Pacific University, where he has worked for 11 years as an editor, writer, and communications project manager. His work has been recognized in The New Yorker, TIME, The Seattle Times, IMAGE, Ravi Zacharias International — and Christianity Today, where he served as a film journalist for more than a decade. He recently began a weekly column called "Listening Closer" for Christ and Pop Culture.

  • cptcasualt

    Steve Taylor – Moshing Floor
    Whiteheart – Invitation
    Dryve – Rain
    Dryve – Manifold
    (“If I could stand up and know… twang“)

  • azhiashalott

    Hmm, although they only ever made one album, I think that Chasing Furies has provided some of the best rock songs Christian music can lay claim to. It’s difficult to name one particular song, so I’ll just plunk down on “Thicker”, the opening track and the song that first pointed me to this sadly defunct band. Another defunct Christian band with great lyrics is Ballydowse — I particularly enjoy “Birth (A Drunkard Reel).” Waterdeep also had a few good songs.

    Dos and don’ts?

    DO explore a variety of styles
    DON’T just stick to “worship” and pop full of cheesy emotions and ridiculous runs
    DO try to find ways of stating things apart from the obvious — sometimes a metaphor has so much more truth than a bald statement
    If you’re going to write worship songs, DON’T just make them about how you feel or what you want to do to for God
    DO be willing to focus on the rough stuff of life
    DON’T overproduce your music
    DO go out of your comfort zone to seek inspiration
    DON’T necessarily make your music “safe and fun for the whole family” (but also don’t try to shock just for the sake of shocking)
    DO everything for the glory of God
    DON’T think that you can only be glorifying God if you sing just bash ‘em over the head Christian music ala the local Christian radio station

  • lifeofmcblog

    So I guess U2 is off the list? Haha.
    Recent albums by Switchfoot (“Oh, Gravity”, Jars of Clay (“Good Monsters”, and Delirious (“Kingdom of Comfort”) have all shown a lyrical maturity which until recently has been woefully absent in “Christian music.” JOC’s “Oh My God” is as tightly wound and convicting as anything I’ve heard in a long time. And Switchfoot flat-out rocks with passion and drive, regardless of label.

  • chessncoffee

    Great to see mewithoutYou on that list-they’re a genuinely great band; really unusual. I think just about every song on their album “Brother, Sister” is a great rock song.

    I guess, if it’s okay to put in songs by bands who don’t like being called “Christian bands”, I’d say Switchfoot’s “Daisy” and “The Shadow Proves the Sunshine” are two great “Christian” songs.