10 Christian Rock Songs We Were Listening to While the '90s Happened
DC Talk - Jesus Freak (1995)
If you were an evangelical in 1995, or just in the Devotional Bible section of a Wal-Mart, this song was absolutely impossible to avoid.
One not-immediately-apparent reason people have trouble taking mainstream CCM bands seriously -- wrongly, I think -- is that it's clear from a lot of their career paths that making music is not the most important thing in their life, the thing through which they are self-actualized.
It's clear because the kind of music they make often has as much to do with secular trends as it does their own influences. DC Talk began their career in the late '80s as full-on, extremely dated-sounding rappers. In 1992, they went New Jack. In 1994, with grunge having happened, they made an abrupt left turn and released "Jesus Freak," which is both the CCM "Smells Like Teen Spirit" and really transparently trying to be the CCM "Smells Like Teen Spirit."
Likewise, their next and final album, Supernatural, sounds much more like 1998 than it does Jesus Freak. (It also featured a salvo in the hey-don't-water-down-your-lyrics-with-pronouns war with a very expensive-looking video, "My Friend (So Long).")
Earlier this year tobyMac, the band's most successful alum, topped Billboard's album chart with an album that sounds like nothing so much as 2013, right down to the, uh, Christian dubstep. it doesn't make for great music, necessarily, but I've never understood the idea that this chameleonism is dishonest -- it follows directly from their stated goal, which is basically ministry disguised as pop music. (Another of their members is the lead singer of the current incarnation of the Newsboys, and I do not have any good things to say about that.)