It has been 6 months since my last article appeared in the Catholic Register. Over the next few months, I am going to try to get all my articles online in an achive format. Next month, I will start with a huge backlog of music reviews. I am very excited to be back in an online format as I can do cool things such as include links to music and videos (try it below)! Please visit this site often or subscribe to this site to be alerted whenever a new column appears. I want this to be the website that people go to for their information about Christian music with a Catholic perspective. I thought it would be appropriate this month to start out with a “state of the union” address to restart things off.
Secular music is, in my opinion, in a sad state. Listen to any Top 40 station and you will hear an Autotuned wonderland. In fact, it is not even necessary to attempt to sing. Witness this video where a news broadcast is autotuned to become a “hit” song. When even a Rebecca Black can become a star on a song that is acknowledged to be horrible, is it any wonder that so many youth are going back to the classic rock songs of our youth. It is also not surprising that so many songs sample or borrow riffs from music from the past. Artists like Drake have convinced me that the failure of our educational system is finally manifested in the inability to write any coherent intelligent lyrics.
Is there hope? Absolutely. The huge success of “Rolling in the Deep” by Adele is finally signalling a return to music with soul and with substance. Adele’s album “21” is going to be this year’s top album and indicates to me that the public is finally sick and tired of articifical and highly processed artists that are being shoved down their throats. The success of Adele is going to start a cycle of new aspiring artists who will turn back to the art of singing and songwriting.
In Christian music, there is a very disturbing trend. With the downturn of the music industry in general, there are very new aspiring artists who are able to get exposure. What is resulting is that, when I look at the new release announcements that are sent my way, probably half are reissues of previous CDs. Christian bookstores are closing in large numbers and Christian radio has, in the words of my children, the same sound in every song. It seems as if there is now a viscous cycle where Christian radio wants to keep going with what it feels is successful (the same sound, the same few artists etc) resulting in fewer younger listeners which results in radio working even harder to “stay the same”.
Ironically, Catholic artists do have an opportunity now to make a difference. Due to a lack of funds, these starving artists have never been able to afford the secularized and highly over-produced sound of contemporary recordings, and so many are still true musicians. These artists still need to work with good producers in order to replicate the success of an Adele, as the big weakness is still a lack of professionalism in the song-writing and song arrangement. However, recent Catholic artists such as Canadians Matt Maher and Chris Bray are making waves in the Christian music industry.
Thus ends my state of the union address. I hope you will keep coming back. Next column, I will start to clean up the backlog of recordings that have come my way over the summer!