Newsweek likes Christian rock
"I thought it was going to be more out of the loop than it was," Newsweek music critic Lorraine Ali admits about the subject of her cover story: Christian rock music. Instead, what she found at the touring Festival con Dios, where teens "wreak havoc and give praise," was some good music, relevancy, and a lot of savvy marketing. Christian record sales brought in $747 million last year, accounting for 7 percent all American music sales. But if it's so big, why don't more people know about it? Ali attributes it to change within the Christian music culture itself:
Christian music underwent a makeover, hipping itself up for the approaching millennium. Starting in the early '90s, its artists began borrowing from more relevant styles of music and fashion to promote their words of praise. Conveying those lyrics in the catchiest ways is now the main goal. It's all part of an evangelical oral tradition to spread the Gospel. Where a preacher uses the pulpit and an organ, CCMers use the stage and a band. Artists can choose to dedicate songs directly to God, referred to as "verticals," or praise-and-worship tunes, or to sing about religious values, sometimes with a deliberate ambiguity to attract less conservative listeners. Occasionally, the music crosses over: CCM stars such as crooner Michael W. Smith and the roots-rock outfit Jars of Clay get play on VH1, and the metal bands P.O.D. and Lifehouse are embraced by MTV. To young Christians, these rock artists are Gospel-spreading heroes. Like the kids, they exist between dueling cultures, forming an unlikely bridge from explosive teenage rebellion to steady, unwavering faith.
But what Ali completely misses is that nobody really knew how big Christian music ...1