In this episode of Music & Meaning, host Charlie Peacock offers a narrative trip through the many ways Jesus has been represented in pop music: explicitly, implicitly, genuinely, and in mockery. He discusses Jesus Christ Superstar, the rock opera that brought a contemporary Jesus to a new generation. This leads to a look into the '70s perspective of Jesus as a symbol of authenticity and rebellion, covering tracks from Norman Greenbaum, James Taylor, The Velvet Underground, and Black Sabbath, to name a few. As he moves through the decades, Charlie reflects on the evolving depictions of Jesus in music, from controversial metal bands in the '80s to Tupac Shakur's '90s rap, on to Kanye West's "Jesus Walks" in the 2000s, and much more, including Taylor Swift, The Killers, U2, and Lauren Daigle. In his own words, "I'm just shining a light on the persistent motif of Jesus in pop culture. Some musicians are simply namechecking Jesus. Others have interwoven the Jesus narrative into their music with curiosity and care." The episode wraps up with Charlie sharing his personal ethos regarding the mention of Jesus in music (and he might even be caught singing a little bit). Finally, he leaves us with a 50-song Spotify playlist that highlights a few of these diverse musical critiques of Jesus, the co-opting of his name, as well as tributes, praise, and true artistic reflection. The playlist offers listeners a second opportunity to soak up Jesus's significant impact on pop music titles and lyrics. Contemporary interest in who people say Jesus is, through music and entertainment, is alive and well.

Charlie Peacock is a Grammy Award–winning, Billboard chart–topping music producer, composer, and recording artist. He is a co-founder of the Art House, Wedgwood Circle, and founder/director emeritus of the commercial music program at Lipscomb University. Charlie has produced music for film and television, including A Walk to Remember, Chris Cornell’s “Misery Chain” from the soundtrack of 12 Years a Slave, and “Hush,” the title theme to the AMC drama Turn: Washington’s Spies. Named by Billboard’s The Encyclopedia of Record Producers as one of the 500 most important producers in music history, Charlie is also a three-time recipient of the Gospel Music Award for Producer of the Year. His books include Why Everything That Doesn’t Matter, Matters So Much; New Way to Be Human; At the Crossroads; and a contribution to It Was Good: Making Music to the Glory of God. Charlie is the senior music editor for Christianity Today and host of the CT podcast Music and Meaning. He has been married to writer Andi Ashworth for nearly 50 years and they have two grown, married children and four grandchildren.

“Music and Meaning” is a production of Christianity Today:
Executive Produced by Erik Petrik and Matt Stevens
Produced and Written by Charlie Peacock and Mike Cosper
Original Music and Editing by David LaChance and Charlie Peacock
Mix Engineer: Mark Owens
Show theme, “Sound of the Room,” composed by Charlie Peacock, featuring bassist John Patitucci