Don’t read too much into the headline above. I’m not saying that most Christian music is bad. I’m just saying that you’re not the only person who thinks most Christian music isn’t very good.
You know how your ear can identify Christian music before you catch the lyrics (even if you don’t know the song)? The instrumentation, vocal style, and chords almost all seem to follow just a few basic patterns. Once you do tune into the lyrics, you’re able to sing the last few words of a line of music you’ve never heard before. The same themes seem to emerge again and again:
I’m talking about Christian pop/worship music. The unimaginative, bland, repetitive Christian music. The kind of music that you probably wouldn’t give the time of day to if the lyrics weren’t about Jesus. The Christian music that plays on the radio. The
bad kind of Christian music kind of Christian music I don’t prefer.
Worship music has a huge place in our lives as Christians, both congregationally and privately. There are practical reasons that some of the song characteristics I’ve just listed should be used in worship. I realize that, so don’t @ me (unless you have a large social media following and want to disagree with me publicly in front of all of your followers, in that case, please @ me. Just make sure that you include the link to this story.) That being said, following a formula to create a hit worship song isn’t really art. It also isn’t terribly interesting to my ears.
End of Disclaimer
Unfortunately for many people, Christian radio and church worship are the only kinds of Christian music they’ve ever heard. Fortunately for you, you’ve found this article. Stick with me and you’ll have hours of imaginative, uplifting, and unique Christian music to listen to as you work from home, commute to work, or study for that upcoming test. Listen to the music below and you might just find your new favorite jam.
I’ll give you about 30 minutes of music to start with for each of the 3 artists I’ll be highlighting (plus some songs from a few bonus artists). Playlists on some of the main streaming services can be found by clicking on the following hyperlinks: Spotify – Apple Music – Youtube
Feel free to start listening as you read!
Photo Cred: Daniel Petruska, from Facebook
Folk is not one of my favorite genres. And I’ve already established that I don’t love most Christian music. But Josh Garrels’ Home may be my favorite album, start to finish, of all time. It’s certainly my favorite singer-songwriter album. Notice that neither of those last two sentences include the qualifier Christian. Garrels doesn’t make good Christian music, he makes good music. His voice may be one of the most unique in music right now and his lyrics are true poetry. The excerpt below is from his song “Born Again”
“Running scared in between
What I hate and what I need
Savior and enemy are both trying to take my soul
And I can’t hide no more
Stumble out into the light
Raise my fists up to fight
Then I catch your eyes
So full of love
Lord, what have I done?”
5 songs to start with:
Photo Cred: Kings Kaleidoscope, from Facebook
Defining Kings Kaleidoscope’s genre might be even harder than spelling their band name. They definitely sit somewhere in alt rock, but they incorporate a horn section and some strings. Their eclectic instrumentation could risk becoming too much, but fortunately their frontman Chad Gardner’s soulful vocals have the necessary power to pull it all together. Over the years, they’ve moved from creating worship songs and hymns to exploring the Christian journey in a more personal, raw way. Beyond Control, with its explicit track “A Prayer”, was their shot across the bow of Christian music listeners, signaling that they weren’t going to approach faith music the same way as everyone else. The song could probably be ChristiansWhoCurseSometimes’s anthem.
5 songs to start with:
Photo Cred: Michael Nader, from Facebook
Uzuhan is by far the artist with the smallest following (of monthly Spotify listeners), which is strange because he’s also probably the artist I most expect people to vibe with. While Garrels’ music is flat-out beautiful, and KK’s creative instrumentation sets it apart from other rock bands, this Korean-American rapper’s music is groovy. His song, “Gratitude” will introduce you to a sub-genre of music you didn’t know you needed – jazzy, Christian hip-hop. Uzuhan creates music that you get so excited about you want to share it with your friends.
5 songs to start with:
If you love these artists, you’re in luck, because I’ve got a few more artists for you.
For people who love Uzuhan, I also really enjoy some of nobigdyl.’s music (For you married Christians, “Shakira” is a banger!!!).
Jason is a big fan of a few things: funky music, scenic PNW hikes, quality lattes (usually from PNW roasters), playing sports with friends, big family dinners, his wife Maddie, and what Jesus is doing in his life. Over on Instagram, he manages a page dedicated to helping YOU find fresh new songs for your Spotify playlists – @listenwithjason. You can get in touch with him there. He’d love to hear about music that you’re excited about.