10 Christian Rock Songs We Were Listening to While the '90s Happened

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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.)

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15 comments
Marco Cruz
Marco Cruz

This aint america, keep that christian shit out of aztlan!

justus.sams
justus.sams

My parents had that album on vinyl. It was terribly awesome like a horrible car accident. I at one point actually thought he was cool.. smh... #BRAINWASHEDYOUTH I was 10 ..... 


Gamphace™
Gamphace™

Trial set 1-13-14 Justice or Business? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lyWeRsF1NGU The Private business is part of the C.S.A. 822 (c) (1)(2)(3) ,885(a)(1) 802(27) that allows the manufacture(growing warehousing,transporting,distribution). The Private business provides a Sch 1 controlled substance(Hemp cannabis Marijuana) for a private held membership, in our usual course of business, consistent with the code of federal regulations governing the statues. The business & it's members are exempt from all statues of alleged criminal activity by the closed regulatory system enforced by the DEA

Sarah Young
Sarah Young

Omg this awesome! Though this list is definitely missing Jennifer Knapp

Joe Downs
Joe Downs

How could I forget the rotating drum kit?!? And yes, Geoff Moore's Home Run album will always have a place in my heart. Listened to it a couple years back on a lark. It led to an intense rush of memories steeped in naive optimism and carefree happiness....it's nice to revisit that on occasion. :) To this day, I still use a quote I heard from him... paraphrasing, I'd rather have 10 people at my funeral, truly celebrating my life and mourning my loss, than 1,000 people checking their watches.

Bobbi Kochman
Bobbi Kochman

I literally just read this out loud to Matt who had pretty much no experience with Christian music before meeting me :) Remember Newsboys rotating drumset? Bahaha :) Also, I am fairly certain that our first conversation was about Geoff Moore and the Distance :)

Jason W. Ground
Jason W. Ground

I have only every heard of Jars of Clay... and I'm okay with that.

Troy Farah
Troy Farah

I like Nirvana. Sorry I don't mention it in my articles. I will be sure to do that next time.

Rebecca Jean Masterson
Rebecca Jean Masterson

My sister, who fancied herself very tough and street-wise in the sixth grade, was given an album by the group O.G.G. (Original Gospel Gangstaz). Though less well known, my mom thought is was a reasonable solution to her Tupac conundrum at the time.

Joe Downs
Joe Downs

As someone who grew up in that scene in the 90's...thank you. :) A few thoughts... 1) Rebecca St. James married a guy from Foster the People?!? Whaaaa?!?!? 2) Live Newsboys shows were awesome. Cheesy as hell, but awesome. Same goes for Audio Adrenaline. 3) Flood gets all the accolades, but Fade to Grey from Jars of Clay is their best song IMO. 4) Christian ska/punk was on par with the secular stuff, if not better. Thanks again for the trip down memory lane. :) Bobbi Kochman memories... :)

Karen Tataryn-Savio
Karen Tataryn-Savio

Okay, we get it. No one at New Times likes Nirvana, do you have to mention that in every single music related article?

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