by Paul Landkamer
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Diversity: There's a good, politically correct word to throw into an article. Diversity is what you'll get here. I'm not meaning the worldly definition of 'anything's fine so long as it doesn't cause anyone immediate physical hurt (unless they're consenting adults, of course). It doesn't matter if it flies in the face of God who wrote that narrow, intolerant, archaic Bible that doesn't really fit today's culture.' No, I'm not talking THAT "diversity". *thump* (sound of me getting off my -or this one, at least- soapbox).
Diversity in musical taste has really taken hold of me since I gave up mainstream radio and switched to Christian music radio for entertainment. I got a reminder of that when I went up to a merchant table at a concert. I bought two CDs: Demon Hunter's "The World is a Thorn" and Francesca Battistelli's "My Paper Heart".
The Demon Hunter CD was the second from that band for my collection. They're teetering on the edge between noise and music (yeah, I know, that's just opinion, but I'm writing here). Demon Hunter is intense and heavy with a blend of growling, maybe screamo and melodic vocals. There is a fair amount of orchestral flavor, which I like quite a bit in my heavy music. Except for occasional bridges and choruses, the CD might come across as one long song. There's little style-change throughout. My old-timer ears couldn't make out the lyrics just by listening, so I had to read them. Reading along makes the lyrics come out quite clearly. Their message is an attack on worldliness. It's distinctly Christian, but it's subtle. One might not catch it if one wasn't looking for it. Then again, Jesus said, "…seek and you will find…"
Francesca Battistelli is a fairly new female artist. She sings in a typical pop style that fits well in the Adult Contemporary genre, but has enough energy to also fit more energetic playlists, as well. Her vocals are clear, and the style is light pop. An overall theme, if there is one, might be freedom in Jesus. And that freedom is truly real!
The bass in Battistelli's band is very subdued, and some more obvious low tones could help counter the often-piercing highs. After listening to Demon Hunter, I actually had to turn "My Paper Heart" down because the high-pitched organ, cymbals and white-noisy guitars hurt. Francesca Battistelli's CD might have been recorded at a higher level than the Demon Hunter CD, but I found Demon Hunter to be easier on the ears. I also find that a weird observation to make.
Battistelli's vocal style is quite pleasant. She likes to throw in a bit of melismata –which I used to call "warbling", and I heard a radio DJ call it "yodeling". It's easy to overdo, but I don't think Francesca's guilty of that. And that brings up another soapbox to climb upon. Neither Battistelli nor Demon Hunter is guilty of this, but what's with the hissy, moaning, whining, breathy, pouty, mumbled vocals that's happening so much?
Effeminate male vocalists, female diva-wannabes, overdone theatrics and such, were huge factors in my staying away from Christian music for so many years. That's what I thought Christian music was –just easy-listening, chick-flicky, ballady anthemic stuff. Lots of adult contemporary music is still just that, but there's way more to Christian music than sticky-sweet butterflies and kitties tear-filled thongs thung by kidthe who wudden make it in the mainthtream.
Don't thing lyge you godda mouf fuwwa mawboes or thpit you don'd wandu dribboe dowd your chid. If you think I'm exaggerating, consider the following examples:
Both Matt West and Disciple say "honnawanna". Matt's trying to sing "I don't want to" and Disciple's trying to sing "I'm the one who". Matt Papa sings "Hi surrender hol-eye ham" –is that some sort of sanctified pork –holy ham? Flyleaf sings "Shear you are down on your knees again." Manic Drive starts off a song with powerful instrumentals with "Sheah, sheah, sheah…" I think it's supposed to be a series of "yeah"s. Brandon Heath sings "Hugh's my hands. Hugh's my feet." Everything Falls sings "Hugh will overcome." Who’s this Hugh guy? Then there's "Whadder you wai-in for?" "thet me free" "yeah these walls are coming dzown" "Id habbenth in a mlink… ssslow noun, ssslo-ho nown, mefo na-nay mecomethe a yestuhday" "Thith ith the thound of the re-thith-danth" Pillar is even whiney in "Secrets and Regrets". Lithen to yourthelvthe! Some Bible translations (1Cor 6:9 KJV, NAS) say effeminate males won't inherit the kingdom of God –of course, you can say, "But that's not what it really means" –just like everyone else who tries to twist Scripture. Some translations use different wording, but I'm not here to argue about that.
Sure, the music ministers to many people, but c'mon you singers! I is not hi. Down is not dzown. To isn't tsu. You isn't hugh. If you mean "God", don't sing "ngod" and don't substitute "dzesuss" for Jesus. Sing clearly!
*thump* That's all just opinion, but I'm not the only one who holds it. There are lots of people being kept away from Christian music because of the above stereotype. Please don't stand in the way of somebody's hearing Jesus' knock. And despite my fussing about it, I'm still sticking to Christian music, even if I gotta listen to a bunch of wimpy stuff to hear some that appeals to my taste diverse as it may be. Like I said earlier, I'm not here to argue about what I've written above. I am, however, here to help you find that Christian music that transcends the stereotype. Let me know if I can.
And no matter what your personal taste in music might be, always let it help keep your focus on Jesus!
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