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Christian rock is a form of rock music played by bands where the musicians are openly Christian. The extent to which their lyrics are explicitly Christian varies between bands.
In the 1970s, Larry Norman was a popular Christian rock musician who challenged a view held by some conservative Christians (predominantly fundamentalists) that rock music was anti-Christian. One of his songs, "Why Should the Devil Have All the Good Music?", summarized his attitude and his quest to pioneer Christian rock music.
"Christian rock" band definitions
There are multiple definitions of what qualifies as a "Christian Rock" band. Christian rock bands that explicitly state their beliefs, like Servant and Petra, and use Christian imagery in their lyrics tend to be considered a part of the contemporary Christian music (CCM) industry and play for a predominantly Christian market. Other bands perform music influenced by their faith but see their audience as the general public. They may generally avoid specific mention of God or Jesus. Such bands are sometimes rejected by the CCM rock scene and may specifically reject the CCM label. Possibly the very first documented appearance of a Christian Rock band is Mind Garage in 1967, whose Electric Liturgy, finally recorded on RCA in 1970, gives them credibility as a cornerstone in the creation of the Christian Rock genre. Some artists such as U2, Lifehouse, Creed, Sufjan Stevens, King's X, Thrice, Evanescence, Coldplay, Blessid Union of Souls, The Elms, and Switchfoot do not claim to be "Christian bands", but include members who openly profess to be Christians and feature Christian thought, imagery, scripture or other influences in their music. There is a tendency among some Christian rock music fans to label rock music bands as Christian where their lyrics are seen as consistent with the fans' understanding of Christian belief, but this is generally not accepted by the contemporary Christian music industry. Related subgenres are Christian alternative rock, Christian metal, Christian industrial, Christian punk, and Christian ska.
Critiques of Christian rock
Some critics of Christian rock complain that Christian music trends are clichéd derivative of rock music and pop music in that they copy these styles and trends without creating original sounds of their own. The critics' stereotype of Christian rock is a censored or plagiarised version of whatever is popular on the radio.
Another critique of Christian Rock is that some critics also feel that in reaching out to mainstream listeners, Christian Rock waters down the Christian message and content into amorphous love songs. Amy Grant, for example, received criticism for her song, "Baby Baby" because it was not clear whether she was singing to God or to a good looking man in the music video. Richard Rossi was criticized for performing his gospel rock in bars and secular nightclubs. Steve Camp, Christian music critic, complains that Christian music has become "yodels of a Christ-less, watered-down, pabulum based, positive alternative, aura-fluff, cream of wheat, mush-kind-of-syrupy, God-as-my-girlfriend kind of thing.". Others respond that expressions of unconditional love reminiscent of romantic love are consistent with God's agape love and the tradition of the biblical book, Song of Solomon.
Some critics feel bands market themselves to the Christian audience because the market is easier to enter. The competition in the Christian market is not as fierce, so they can gain huge success quickly. Some bands are accused of using the CCM industry to springboard into the "mainstream" as they prove to the record labels they can sell albums. Oftentimes these accused bands will quickly reject the Christian label they once embraced, causing controversy.
In Popular Culture
In the show South Park, Eric Cartman creates a Christian rock band to take advantage of religious people.
Evangelistic goals of Christian rock
Many Christian bands have an explicitly evangelistic goal: they hope to use their music to attract new converts to their faith. Some musicians try to draw in non-Christian listeners by writing songs with an underlying Christian message. These bands include Switchfoot, Relient K and the now-defunct Sixpence None The Richer. Solo artists such as Kevin Max also employ this method of reaching non-christians.
However, the aims for making Christian music vary among different artists. Some Christian artists, such as Chris Tomlin, Matt Redman, Third Day, and By the Tree sing more explicit worship songs, incorporating lyrics that directly worship God. Many of these songs are played at more contemporary churches and used to lead congregations in worship. These artists receive less criticism; however, they also receive less praise from non-Christian listeners.
Christian rock festivals
There are many [Christian rock festivals held worldwide every year, including the Cornerstone Festival, Newsong, Sonshine Festival, Ichthus, Spirit West Coast, Rock the Desert, Purple Door, Parachute, Shout Fest, Christmas Rock Night in Ennepetal, Germany, Lifest, Rock the Universe at Universal Studios Florida, Night of Joy at Walt Disney World, and TomFest. They range from single day events to four day festivals that provide camping and other activities. Christian rock can also be heard at other Christian festivals that are not exclusive to rock, such as the Creation Festival and YC Newfoundland and YC Alberta. Many events are held in Australia called Encounterfest, Jam United and EXOday. There are also many in the UK, including 'Ultimate Events' at Alton Towers, 'Frenzy' and Creation Fest, Woolacombe, Devon.
Christian rock radio programs
- Hip Rock UK (on Premier Christian Radio- www.premier.org.uk)
- Christian Rock Radio
- Radio U
- Total Axxess
- Weekend 22
- MAD Christian Radio Show
- Classic Christian Rock Radio
- 24/7 XMusicOnline.Com - Positive Rock Radio
- Air1 - The Positive Alternative 
- Against The Flow, which is broadcast every Sunday on NU 107 in the Philippines
Davids Christian Rock Radio
Magazines, Books and Websites
- ThoughtQuotient.com ThoughtQuotient.com Christian Music interviews, reviews
- CMSpin.com Christian music news, reviews, testimonies, interviews and artist profiles.
- Rawkzilla.com Your source for Christian Rock only, music, news, interviews, reviews, and much more.
- JesusFreakHideout.com Christian music website featuring CD reviews, previews, and artist interviews.
- Christian Music Daily Christian rock music news and interviews from Mark Weber
- HM Magazine
- Firestream.net Large community of Christian Rock / Metal listeners
- Godcore.com Christian rock band database
- CCM Magazine
- Soundgrid.net Christian Music News
- Music EvangelismAn essay styled book about Christian rock music
- ThoughtQuotient.com ThoughtQuotient.com's Interview with Christian artists
- Website for Body Piercing Saved My Life: Inside the Phenomenon of Christian Rock, by Andrew Beaujon
Return to Contemporary Christian music