Worship Music Overkill?
- Lillie Cottrell Copyright Christianity Today International
- 2006 20 Mar
Ina recent newsletter, we noted that some Christian artists have been requested by their record labels to include radio-friendly worship songs on their albums—sometimes against the artists' wishes. The whole practice smacked of "worship as an afterthought," and we asked readers for their thoughts on the subject. We received a ton of responses, most of them echoing readers' frustrations with worship music in general. Here's a sampling of those replies.
I love it when there are some worship songs on albums. I don't necessarily think it should be done as an afterthought, and I am against forcing an artist to do it.
Singing and writing worship songs is something that is put on your heart by God. It can't be forced by the music industry. No wonder they aren't the artist's best songs. They weren't created from the deepest place of worship.
I was musing about howworship bands seemto run out of creative lyrics, but can you blame them?When a band known for worship tunes comes out with yet another worship album, the lyrics tend to gradually come across as fluffy, forced, or superficial.But when a rock band has just one or two worship focused tracks on a rock album, then it can be extraordinary. It's not that worship music has been badlyproduced lately. It's justoften devoid of the Spirit.
I am appalled that worship songs are added to an album because of pressure from a record label.? One of my hardest trials coming back into the church was because I initially felt I had to be a "cookie cutter Christian," and the thought made me want to run the other way. God's gift to me was allowing me to be myself and even outspoken about my unconventional experiences while coming back to an active faith and relationship with Jesus Christ. Curiously, it brought more people to me who were are also afraid to say anything about their own unconventional Christian experiences (mostly for fear of being judged as "too worldly"). There is a need for authenticity, and room for a variety of styles. I love worship songs, but there are plenty out on the market, and some start to feel homogenized after a while. Why do the record companies assume we all want the same music done in the same way? Any song that can stir my soul toward God and give me pause to appreciate what he did for me is worship music in my mind.?
I don't think Christian labels should "make" artists put worship songs on their albums. If it were me, I would refuse to put anything on that I didn't create. Music is a form of self-expression, and if it's not you on the CD, then you really have sold out. I also think there is a problem with the Christian radio stations that always seem to play the same songs over and over and over. I tend to stay away from listening to them because of that. I love worship music, but I do want to hear the other things that Christian artists have to offer. Christian artists don't only listen to worship music, so why should we?
If a record company has to "force" a band to record a worship song to get played on radio, then it isn't much of a worship song.A worship song should bring awe and reverence to a Holy God, not something to accommodate a record company or radio station. I don't think God would be happy or even moved by a song that a record company ordered. It should be something they are led to do, not forced to do.
Honestly, I stopped buying worship albums a while ago when I noticed that they were becoming like Christmas albums—everyone has to do [at least] one and they all rehash the same music.? I wish they would leave worship music to the people who do it best, rather than try to make everyone a worship leader.
If the music comes from a Christian artist, then in my opinion, all their music is "worship," created in response to God. Why else would they be Christian artists?
My teenage son and I are tired of this worship music craze. Not that we don't appreciate good worship music, but it seems like it's become a fad and a marketing ploy. The songs are so simplistic, and seem to be something that artists can record quickly to keep beans on the table. I get excited when I learn that one of my favorite artists is putting out a new album, only to groan when I find out it's another worship album. I personally can't wait until the whole phase is over.
I couldn't agree more with your dismay at record companies "ordering" worship music. That doesn't mean we shouldn't allow ourselves to be challenged by others (e.g. producers, record labels) to move outside our comfort zones, but it does mean that David should not be compelled to wear the armor of Saul.
Andrew G. Irvin
As a musician, I can honestly say that worship music is the worst quality "music" in existence today! When I see Christian musicians dedicating songs that offer little in the way of creativity, it makes me grieve for what I think God deserves. Music that is truly worshipful should be our best efforts, not dumbed-down melodies that someone wrote in a ten-minute session. Worship music is severely boring and melodically tedious at best, so let's move on in spite of what the trend is!
Worship music should come from the heart, not squeezed out of someone just to fill a quota. It's like trying to squeeze too much juice out of a grape. You can only get so much, and after that, they're dry and no good anymore. If you squeeze too hard, you'll kill it.
Using worship music as a way to cash in on what is "hot" to obviously oil the cash flow of the record company is an invitation for Jesus to come and tip up the merchants tables, crying "My House shall be called a House of Prayer." Need I carry on?
I'd like to think that God is the one leading artists to make their songs and albums.Are we stepping in his path if we require certain things?This must be frustrating for artists too, having to compromise to gain airtime; they're forced to conform to the requirements of radio.
Contemporary Christian music is definitely too formulaic. I would love to see more airplay of music that doesn't fit the so-called "worship model." It's getting so that as you drive across the country and scan the radio stations, you can clearly tell when you've hit a Christian station, even if you don't know the song that's playing. It all sounds the same.
If it is not the artist's vision to do worship, then they should not be required to do it.Otherwise, what happens when a listener buys the CD containing the worship song heard on the radio, only to find the rest of the album is nothing like what they heard? Not a pleased customer, I'm sure.
When worship music falls out of commercial favor, then the pressure to throw in some worship tunes will cease, and the pressure will be on to do the next hip and commercially viable thing.? Though worship has become a commercial cash cow for the record companies, this is only a phase as far as commerce goes.? But in the heart of God, who has a whole different economy, worship will always be hip.
Worship music should be the first thing on the album, not the last.