Christian music has not always been the most popular genre around, and even Christian radio host Brant Hansen acknowledges that it has been the "fodder for jokes for a long time."
However, Hansen writes in an article for The Washington Post that the tides are shifting for Christian music, and people are finding themselves drawn to it like bees to honey.
"Many people complain that the genre called contemporary Christian music (marketed to church folk) is derivative, clichéd and over-produced. But despite that, the number of people who listen is growing. Here's why: People like how it makes them feel," he says.
Christian pop/rock music has also been accused of "being less than real," not to mention "formulaic, talent-free and vacuous" in the past because it lacks negativity, and words such as "hope" and "joy" are sprinkled all over it. Even U2 frontman Bono, who is a known Christian, suggested that Christian artists "write a song about their bad marriage. Write a song about how they're pi**ed off at the government."
Despite these complaints, the number of radio stations playing Christian music as classic rock has doubled recently. In cities such as Seattle, Dallas, and Atlanta, Christian stations have high rankings in terms of listeners.
Hansen has a couple of ideas why Christian music got a sudden boost. "Christian radio has managed to capitalise well on something you might notice if you use Spotify: Radio executives have figured out that people want to access music for specific needs and for specific moods. That's why Spotify now offers 'Morning Acoustic Chill' and 'After Work Run,'" he says.
Music is not always about high art, he adds, since "Christian radio is adjusting to this particularly well and embracing the fact that people see Christian music as encouraging and uplifting."
Hansen says listeners know that they live in a judgmental world, and that is why they long for reminders that "God still loves them, and still wants them, even in spite of themselves." Christian music provides them an escape from worldly distractions, and it provides them encouragement during times they need it the most.
While Bono might be right in saying that people should write songs about everything, Hansen says there's always a time and place for everything.
"Do know that judgment, itself, is not remarkable. The world swims in it. It's in the moral air we breathe, in and out of church, religious and irreligious, in every culture, and has been always been. We're constantly reminded we don't measure up," he says. "But grace, well ... that's different. It's a shock to the system, and a wonderful one at that."
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