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Christian Rock

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Rock Me, Asmodeus!? No, you've definitely got the wrong guys.

I know what's right, I know what's wrong, I don't confuse it.
All I'm really trying to say
Is why should the devil have all the good music?
I feel good every day
'Cause Jesus is the rock and he rolled my blues away.
Larry Norman, "Why Should The Devil Have All The Good Music?"

Exactly What It Says on the Tin, Christian Rock is Rock music written and performed from a specifically Christian perspective. Far from being just Rock songs with words about God, or rock stars like Elvis Presley who happen to be Christian and cover the odd Gospel song here and there, Christian Rock is its own distinct category of music, with dedicated Christian Rock record labels, music festivals, bands, radio, charts, awards, and more devoted to the genre.

The genre began in The '60s with Christian musicians who, contrary to the attitude of many churches at the time, thought that Rock could be a good vehicle for expressing their faith. If the older generation didn't get it, well, that's what makes it Rock 'n Roll. The genre became popular with Christian audiences in The '70s, and took on a life of its own as musicians experimented in the many emerging forms of rock. During the 70s and 80s it maintained a sizable, er, cult following, very popular among Christian youth although earning its share of odd looks and criticism both from secular rock fans and from the sort of church folks who believe all rock is of the devil. It exploded in popularity in The '90s, as many mainstream churches began to embrace the success of the style in appealing to a wide audience.

Some artists have managed to become crossover hits who appeal to Christian and secular audiences alike, while just as many others are content to be primarily for Christians. (The latter group is often described under the catchall term CCM, Contemporary Christian Music.) It's also not unheard of for an artist or group to start in the Christian scene, and then move on from it as they achieve more mainstream success (or experience a Crisis of Faith). Or, for that matter, an artist from another genre might happen to be a Christian and record an album or two of worship songs for their Christian fans. What they all have in common is a distinctively rock sound (in any style) and lyrics that are specifically about Christianity. If it's Ambiguously Christian, it's probably not Christian Rock.

There's often a perception that Christian variations are watered-down imitations of popular genres, typically with low production values, and sometimes bands just shoehorn Christianity into the lyrics to get played on gospel stations. The common Shallow Parody of Christian Rock involves an opportunistic Christian group taking an existing rock song and swapping the word "baby" for "Jesus." The reality is quite different. As with any genre, production values and talent vary greatly between bands, but they're on average no more derivative than any group playing on mainstream radio. Additionally, Christian Rock is less The Moral Substitute than is popularly believed. Most often, it is simply a chosen way for its performers to entertain, enjoy themselves, and/or express their faith.

People who are liable to condemn rock music simply because of its genre (without regards to its lyrical content) often don't listen to Christian rock, either. Some church groups (and Jack Chick) believe that all rock music, including Christian rock, is something to be avoided. Also, with the popularity of various Christian Rock/Metal acts such as Skillet, Underoath, and As I Lay Dying outside of the core CCM audience, the "Christian Rock as a Poor Man's Substitute" version of this trope may be becoming at least partially discredited.

It should be noted that this genre can be as diverse as the secular form of rock music. Just as diverse. Everything from soft rock to the various forms of Heavy Mithril will be covered. And it's erroneous to assume what the viewpoint/theology of any Christian band or its members is, because Christian rock's theologies are as diverse and unpredictable as the entire population of Christians, which is pretty diverse. This does sometimes make for a degree of Lyrical Dissonance, as many of the harder rock genres aren't normally associated with the positive and hopeful aspects of Christianity. Nonetheless, Christian Rock artists have found success making every form of rock music, even Black Metal (its devotees wryly call the Christian version "Unblack Metal").

Concerts often differ somewhat from regular rock or metal concerts. Because a band is Christian, parents will often allow younger children to go to their concerts. As a result, some concerts will be held at a lower decibel level (though there are still a great many that will send you home with ringing ears). Mosh pits are rare, and usually at smaller, late night concerts if at all.

It should also be remembered that an artist's personal religious affiliation can have absolutely nothing to do with what genre they sing in. Christian rock refers exclusively to music that is about Christianity. Christians may (and often do) sing in other genres as well. Non-Christians making Christian Rock would be rarer, but not entirely unheard of. And of course other religions may have their own musical genres as wellnote . Conversely, rock bands such as U2 may have Christian members and address Christian concepts in their lyrics, but see their audience as the mainstream public rather than just the Christian crowd, so most people would not consider them to be Christian Rock as such. The definition of the genre is not "rock musicians who happen to be Christians" or "rock songs that happen to be about God or religion" but "rock acts that specifically focus their primary output on Christian themes and/or Christian audiences."

For further reading on the history of the genre, John J. Thompson's book Raised By Wolves: The Story of Christian Rock & Roll provides a detailed overview, and also focuses on a few key figures - including Christian rock pioneer Larry Norman, the acclaimed guitarist Phil Keaggy and the new wave band Daniel Amos - in depth. Also recommended is the Tumblr blog An Atheist's Guide to Christian Rock, a blog on Christian Alternative Rock written by music critic J. Edward Keyes, a former Christian who still has fondness for the music he grew up with (Sadly, the blog has been on hiatus since Keyes became the editorial director for Bandcamp's music journalism vertical).

Christian Metal is the even more controversial subgenre.note  See also the sister genre Gospel Music, which has similar messages, but pulls from a different musical tradition.

Compare Song of Prayer, which addresses God in the lyrics and God-Is-Love Songs (in which the Christian elements are understated). The opposite is Religion Rant Song, for music that takes a negative view of faith. Contrast with The Moral Substitute.

Definitely not to be confused with Chris Rock.

Genres and acts

  • 2nd Chapter of Acts was a pioneering group. Brother/sisters trio Annie Herring, Nelly Ward, and Matthew Ward released their first singles in 1972 and their first album 2 years later. Known for their amazing vocal harmonies, they are probably the originators of the Christian concept album with The Roar Of Love, based on C. S. Lewis's The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
  • The 77s: Famously described by Larry Norman as being "Too Christian for the radio, and too radio for the church," The 77's were a new wave-influenced band who were poised to break out of Christian music altogether in the late-80s. The band got secular college radio airplay, earned critical praise for their albums and live performances, and wrote catchy alt-rock songs about explicitly Christian themes. They actually wound up getting a deal with major label Island Records, but unfortunately, their 1987 self-titled third album got lost in the label's promotional shuffle for U2's The Joshua Tree and underperformed. Their followup album, 1990's Sticks and Stones, is widely considered to be one of the best Christian rock albums ever recorded.
  • Adam Again: An eclectic band Alternative Rock that mixed folk, blues and new wave and had a string of well-reviewed albums in the 1980s and '90s. The band led by singer Gene Eugene, whose voice was often compared to Michael Stipe. The band also included his then-wife Riki Michele, who garnered scandal in conservative Christian circles for dancing onstage.note  The band broke up after Eugene died in 2000.
  • Antestor manages to pull it Christian Black Metal rather well. Having just as many songs about despair, helplessness and suicide as they do about Jesus and God helps. And musically, they're regarded by many secular BM fans as one of the best Black Metal bands out there (by many of those who aren't part of the church-burning Serious Business portion of BM fandom, anyway). Funny enough, the drummer on their 2012 album Omen is from, of all bands, Mayhem (yes, that Mayhem).
  • As I Lay Dying
  • Attack Attack!
  • August Burns Red
  • Ajalon was a Christian prog band who take their name from Joshua 10:12 in The Bible. Rick Wakeman has collaborated with them before. (Wakeman is himself a professing Christian, and has released some Christian stuff, but it's not most of his output.)
  • Apologetix is a Christian parody band, a la "Weird Al" Yankovic. Al's drummer even played on one of their albums. Their song "We're in a Parody Band" labels themselves as part Weird Al and part Billy Graham.
  • Barlow Girl. Their single, "I Need You To Love Me," is to date the longest number one hit in CCM radio history.
  • Cezare Bonizzi is a Capuchin monk, with long flowing beard and vows of poverty and all that... and he's also the lead singer of an Italian heavy metal band and is known as Brother Metal. He's appeared with such metal giants as Iron Maiden, Judas Priest and Slayer.
  • Brave Saint Saturn.
  • Tricia Brock
  • Christian pop musician Carman. He is probably one of the biggest stars that the Christian music scene has ever produced, having sold over ten million albums and holding the records for the largest Christian concerts in history.
  • Steven Curtis Chapman, who has also received airplay on adult contemporary stations with songs like "Cinderella."
  • Charlie Daniels (from the eponymous band, whose songs included "Long-Haired Country Boy" and "Uneasy Rider" ... as well as "Devil Went Down to Georgia", which, while certainly anti-Devil, wasn't exactly "Christian" either) released an album in the 1990s entitled Steel Witness, on which the songs, while some of them were rather catchy, were about as subtle as you'd expect from an album with cover featuring a riveted cross approximately the size of South America.
  • The Choir: Another Christian Alternative Rock band. This band seemed to be the most accessible to secular audiences of the four, owing to their jangle pop-rooted sound and less overtly religious lyrics. They typically didn't write songs that revolved around God or Jesus, instead focusing on humorous Flannery O’Connor-influenced Southern Gothic narratives or lyrics about ghosts and spirits. Basically, think of them as a Christian version of R.E.M.. Were poised to break out of Christian rock entirely with their heavily promoted 1989 album Wild Eyed Wonder, but it underperformed nationally and they went back to their cult following.
  • Industrial metal band Circle of Dust is an interesting example. While they became easily one of the most successful bands in the Christian metal scene, they usually received some flak from more conservative Christian listeners for their "music first, faith later" approach. One of the members, Scott Albert (later known as Klayton), expressed dissatisfaction with said criticism and left the Christian metal scene entirely to form Celldweller. He bought the rights to all the Circle of Dust releases in 2015, and released a new album under its name, Machines of Our Disgrace, in 2016, this time with all the traces of Christian metal being wiped out entirely.
  • David Crowder Band.
  • Daniel Amos: A band, not a solo artist, despite what the name would imply, led by singer-songwriter Terry Scott Taylor. Originally a country rock band before a series of Genre Shifts left them as a new wave group similar in style to XTC or Talking Heads. Recorded several acclaimed records that critiqued modern, organized religion and televangelism, and made them highly controversial as a result.
  • Day of Fire is a repeatedly stated Christian Rock band, whose songs are so rock that it's hard to notice the christian references, unless they directly throw it in there, and even then it's hard to notice sometimes (Rain Song comes to mind). Having a guitarist tour previously in a non-christian rock band certainly helps with the sound. Unfortunately, they recently went on hiatus.
  • DC Talk: They started as more of a Hip-Hop group — while there are fans, the group itself tends to ignore the early stuff anymore — and moved more towards Rock for the second half of their catalog. And, for a bit of trivia: The group covered one of Larry Norman's songs ("Wish we'd all been ready", see above), and when the group took a break, Michael Tait ended up in Newsboys.
  • Delirious were a British Christian Rock band that existed from 1992-2009.
  • Demon Hunter is an example of a relatively well known Christian Metalcore band. They have several tracks on the Killing Floor 2 soundtrack, including This I Know: A song that's pretty explicitly about a righteous badass laying waste to hell and references God as the "one name above all".
  • Colton Dixon, a former American Idol contestant, has taken this direction after Idol ended, and is currently touring with Christian rock band Third Day. However, he has been criticized for his lyrics "not being religious enough". Figure that one out.
  • Bob Dylan embraced the genre in the late '70s and early '80s, with his albums Slow Train Coming, Saved, and Shot of Love. These three records aren't well liked by secular Dylan fans, but Slow Train Coming received some retroactive acclaim, and Bono has named Shot of Love as one of his favorite Dylan albums. During that period, Dylan was good friends with Christian rocker Keith Green and played a harmonica solo on Green's 1980 album So You Wanna Go Back To Egypt.
  • King's X: The three founding members were all fans of Petra and started their own band – then called The Edge – in 1980. In 1987 they changed their name and sound but stayed true to Christian and other spiritual topics, getting quite some recognition from the Christian Rock scene although they never openly aligned themselves to it. Their association with the genre got subverted when lead singer/bassist Doug Pinnick publically declared his loss of faith (as well as coming out as gay) and sang about it on the band's albums "Dogman" and "Ear Candy" among others.
  • Christian Electronic Music has become increasingly popular with the general rise of the genre in The New '10s, with producers and DJs holding festivals and raves for a more spiritual audience that eschews certain themes prevalent in the more mainstream EDM scene (especially its drug association).
  • Family Force 5 deserves mention. "It's better than drugs/in fact it's sent from above" (from Love Addict") is a reference to God, if indirect/vague; they've played at Christian concerts, and they even mention God directly in "Peachy". They also did a cover of the song "In My Minds Eye," originally done by DCTalk, mentioned above.
  • Falling Up
  • After Grand Funk Railroad disbanded in the 1980's, guitarist Mark Farner started a Christian solo career.
  • Five Iron Frenzy were a Christian ska band that gained a following in the mid-90's with secular audiences. They also eased back on the explicitly Christian references and titled one of their albums Cheeses of Nazareth. At least one of the members has publicly stated that he is now an atheist.
  • Amy Grant started out making explicitly Christian pop music — her catalog spanning from her Self-Titled Album, My Father's Eyes, Never Alone, In Concert Vol. 1 and 2, Age to Age, Straight Ahead, Unguarded. Nevertheless, her artistic inspirations were largely secular - the likes of Joni Mitchell (she would later cover Mitchell's "Big Yellow Taxi"), Carole King and Elton John. She began dabbling in mainstream pop during the mid- and late 1980s, most notably with the Peter Cetera duet "The Next Time I Fall" (a No. 1 hit in 1986) and with several more explicitly Christian songs such as "Find a Way" (from Unguarded) and the title song from 1988's Lead Me On. With 1991's Heart in Motion, she made an all-out shift to mainstream music and found a receptive audience at Top 40 and adult contemporary radio, with the album going quintuple platinum and containing four Top 10 pop hits, including the US No. 1 and UK No. 2 smash "Baby Baby."
    • Whether Grant could be honestly said to have left Christian music is debatable. It's true that in the early part of The '90s, she began downplaying her typical Christian subject matter in favor of songs with more universal themes, but she never quite abandoned it altogether; even Heart in Motion has two explicitly Christian songs, "Ask Me" and "Hope Set High". Despite receiving criticism from her more fundamentalist fans for "selling out," her music remained family-friendly, clean and positive, with some mainstream media outlets dubbing her the "anti-Madonna." And at any rate, since her mainstream success dried up in the early 2000s, Grant has drifted back toward religious music in recent years; two of her last three albums have been collections of religious songs. She hasn't promoted a single to mainstream/secular radio stations in several decades. And even at the height of her mainstream success, her albums were carried in both Christian and mainstream record stores, and she continued to release some singles (such as "Ask Me" and "Helping Hand") exclusively to Christian radio.
  • Keith Green was a piano rocker who (along with 2nd Chapter of Acts) practically invented Christian rock back in the 70s. He was notable for taking Doing It for the Art to an extreme: he concluded it was immoral to make money from music praising Jesus, so he stopped charging money for concert tickets or albums. His death in a 1982 plane crash at age 28 was a big blow to the genre. And he really could play the piano...
  • Eddie DeGarmo and Bob Farrell: !HERO: The Rock Opera (2003)note .
  • Haste the Day
  • Andy Hunter and his contribution to the Need for Speed: Underground soundtrack, "The Wonders Of You". It is, in fact, Christian Techno.
  • Impending Doom is a straight Death Metal/Deathcore example, with their self-proclaimed "Gorship" style of worship to God through their music. If you look back in their discography, their first EP ("The Sin and Doom of Godless Men") is almost Noise.
  • Jars of Clay are easily one of the biggest bands in Christian Rock, and they also had some crossover success in the 90's with their first few albums. Initially they played acoustic rock (and even had a music video, "Flood," from their first album become quite popular on MTV); since then, they've been bouncing between rock and folk, re-tweaking their sound every other album or so.
  • Joy Electric, led by brothers Ronnie Martin, is a funny case in that the lyrics sound like Ambiguously Christian rock bands, but when asked whether or not they're a Christian band, they always reply in the affirmative, as did Starflyer 59. Joy Electric eventually released an album in 1999 titled CHRISTIANsongs so everyone would stop asking him.
  • Phil Keaggy is another seminal figure in Christian Rock, who has received acclaim for his guitar virtuosity even from mainstream artists, being listed as one of the world's top two "finger-style" and "finger-picking" guitarists by Guitar Player Magazine. This is even more impressive considering that he's an Ironically Disabled Artist who lost the middle finger on his right hand in an accident as a child. There's a popular incorrect Urban Legend about an interviewer asking Jimi Hendrix how it felt to be the world's greatest guitar player. He responded by saying, "I don't know, you'll have to ask Phil Keaggy." Incorrect because Keaggy had not recorded his first album until after Hendrix died, and the two never met. note .
  • KJ-52 is a comedy rapper as much as he is a Christian rapper.
  • Ed Kowalczyk, in his solo career outside of Live, plays a lot of straight-forward Christian songs. Still doesn't stop him from dropping one and other Cluster F-Bomb in older songs like "Waitress".
  • Kutless
  • Life Never Lost
  • Lost Dogs: A folk-rock Supergroup consisting of the lead singers and songwriters of the Christian Alternative bands Daniel Amos, The Choir, The 77's, and Adam Again. The Lost Dogs recorded three albums before Gene Eugene's death, and decided to kept going as a quartet. They recorded five more albums after that.
  • Mammoth City Messengers
  • MercyMe, which wrote crossover hit "I Can Only Imagine" and is still tremendously popular in Christian rock/pop circles.
  • Neal Morse of the Progressive Rock groups Spock's Beard and Transatlantic. After converting to Christianity, Morse produced the Christian themed concept album, Snow, with Spock's Beard, after which he focused on a solo career focused on his new found faith, often deviating from his prog rock roots, though he has produced several prog rock Christian concept albums, including ? about the tabernacle and Sola Scriptur about Martin Luther.
  • Special mention needs to go to the band Mortification. They're an Australian death metal band probably most famous for doing the song "Livin' Like a Zombie". They're legends within both the Christian Metal and Death Metal scenes — probably for being a very, very good Christian rock band.
  • Mychildren Mybride
  • Mx Px was one of the bigger names during the 1990s punk resurgence. They were on MTV's 120Minutes and everything. What hardly anyone in the secular world knew was that they were a Christian punk band. Yet they managed to fit in just fine in the same genre as Rancid and The Offspring.
  • Needtobreathe.
  • Older Than They Think: Ricky Nelson was doing this as early as 1960 with his hit single "Glory Train."
  • The Newsboys: absurdly popular among Christians, unheard-of elsewhere. Which is too bad, 'cause their music is really catchy. (One example: "Shine")
  • Britt Nicole
  • Larry Norman is generally viewed as the godfather of Christian rock, and his 1972 album Only Visiting This Planet is widely considered to be one of the best Christian records ever made, even earning a spot in the Library of Congress' National Recording Registry. A song from the album, "I Wish We'd All Been Ready", was on the soundtrack for the Christian film A Thief in the Night, which is basically a Seventies version of Left Behind.
    • In 1969, Norman released his debut album Upon This Rock for Capitol Records. It's now widely considered to be the first Christian rock album, but at the time, it was something of a flop. Secular audiences and critics were bemused by its content and didn't really know what to do with it. Christian leaders lambasted it and Norman was denounced on air by the era's top televangelists. To wit, they believed Upon This Rock was even more harmful to Christian youth because it lured them into listening to that evil rock & roll through a Christian message. By the time the CCM market was in full force, Norman was widely considered a legend within it, but he kept the industry at an arm's length.
    • Later on, Norman would grow disenchanted with the Christian music scene, claiming that it had become about "sloppy thinking, dishonest metaphors, and bad poetry," and joking that you could write a Christian pop song by taking a secular love song and replacing "baby" with "Jesus". Unlike later artists, Norman regularly preached in concert and was often seen as confrontational in his lyrics and interviews; He's quoted as saying "My primary emphasis is not to entertain. But if your art is boring, people will reject your message as well as your art."
  • Norma Jean, a "Christcore" artist who achieved enough mainstream success to play at Mayhem 2010 with, for example, the decidedly non-Christian Lamb of God.
  • The OC Supertones: Christian surfer infused ska music.
  • Oh Sleeper
  • Katy Perry used to be a Christian pop singer before switching to mainstream pop songs. She's still a professing Christian, though.
  • Petra: One of the pioneers of the genre, founded in 1974. Their name is Greek for "rock", and that's pretty much the only descriptor of their style that's vague enough to remain accurate throughout their history (in the '80s alone, they went from sounding like Kansas to being a heavy metal band), with synthesizer-fueled pop-rock somewhere in the middle. They got a lot of flak early on for daring to play rock music (which many Christians at the time were still uneasy about), and levered a couple Take Thats to their accusers in response. Considered by many to be the pioneers of Christian Rock... they were the first band inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame. Not to mention their 4 Grammys and 11 nominations.
  • Plumb.
  • In 2000, right smack in the middle of the Boy Band craze, Christian teenage girls got Plus One. They zoomed to the top of the CCM charts, and had one or two mainstream hits. It didn't hurt that they fulfilled the number-one boy-band priority: being ridiculously good looking.
  • P.O.D. has probably had the most mainstream success of any Christian rock band (unless you count Creed within the genre). Their beliefs were considerably more overt in their initial period as an indie band, then they toned it down when they first signed to a major label. Over time, they became disillusioned with the Christian music industry (especially Sonny, who even walked away from music entirely for a time) and in present times, they still certainly make their faith known, but Sonny has stated in at least one interview that they're good with Christ himself, but hate the concept of religion.
    • They were popular enough that, when frontman Sonny Sandoval named his daughter Nevaeh ("heaven" spelled backwards), that name quickly shot up from being unheard of to being one of the most popular baby names in the country. It's even on the page for The Red Stapler.
  • Prefab Sprout: While songwriter Paddy McAloon had often flirted with religious themes before (in particular the closing sequence of Jordan: The Comeback, which among other things includes a Villain Song written from the point of view of Satan), he'd never quite gone into actual Christian Rock... until the release of Let's Change The World With Music on which several songs are unambiguously advocating for Christianity.
  • Rackets and Drapes, called the Christian version of Marilyn Manson, they definitely live up to that title. Also, the lead singer Kandy Kane admits to being a cross-dresser.
  • Red is a Christian rock band (although if you don't pay attention to their lyrics you wouldn't know). If you don't believe it, listen to "Already Over".
  • Relient K is a Christian Pop Punk band with a penchant for quirky lyrics and, early on especially, pop culture references. They've become a bit more vague, but they are still in the genre. They even did a cover of "The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything" which - while not actually a religious song - was originally written by Christian cartoon show, VeggieTales.
  • Long-lived performer Cliff Richard has managed a bit of this with some of his specifically Christian-themed music. A rocker turned born-again Christian, his career successfully balances between Contemporary Christian Music and middle-of-the-road Pop Rock releases.
  • Rosa De Saron
  • Jessica Simpson, before she achieved mainstream success.
  • Sixpence None the Richer started as a Christian Rock band before finding mainstream success in the late '90s.
  • Skillet started out with songs that were not at all subtle about worshiping Jesus, but eventually turned their sound more mainstream, switching to lyrics that were kind of about Jesus. Lead singer John Cooper has stated in interviews that it is the band's desire to be relevant to Christians and non-Christians alike, but they're still very much a Christian band. Given that they still (as of 2009, at least) read from the Bible during concerts, that seems to indeed be the case and John does preach too.
  • Michael W. Smith is one of the most popular artists in the history of Contemporary Christian music. He co-wrote Amy Grant's first crossover hit, "Find a Way" (1985), and had some brief success on the pop charts in the early '90s with "Place in This World" and "I Will Be Here For You" (the latter reached No. 1 on Billboard magazine's Adult Contemporary chart). At the peak of his crossover success, he was even named one of People magazine's most beautiful people in the world. But with his 1995 album I'll Lead You Home, he returned to overtly religious music and hasn't looked back since, though he has continued to have some occasional success on secular adult contemporary charts (i.e. "Love of My Life," a love song he recorded with pianist Jim Brickman).
  • Starflyer 59, led by Joy Electric frontman Ronnie Martin's brother Jason. However, he has explained that he's usually reluctant to write songs about God because he's afraid that name-dropping Jesus in a song that turns out crappy would just be disrespectful.
  • Sufjan Stevens may be the best known exponent of Christian indie rock. Christian themes in his work are sometimes subtle and sometimes fairly obvious ("Get Real Get Right" for example) but always pretty complex.
  • Stryper was a Christian hair metal band that hit near mainstream success in the 80s with their single "Honestly". Their version of "Battle Hymn of the Republic" is one that has made even detractors of Christian rock step back and say "That was actually pretty good". Some hymns were just made for heavy rock.
  • Superchic[k]
  • Switchfoot is somewhat on the fence, as most of their music does not explicitly reference Christianity, but some of it makes no sense until a Christian perspective is taken on the lyrics. "Dare You To Move" from The Beautiful Letdown is a good example. Jon Foreman (the group's lead singer and usual writer) is a Christian and his work does tend to reflect that fact. Switchfoot was a little more obviously Christian with their first few albums; "The Beautiful Letdown" actually wasn't their first release, it was their fourth. Granted, their success since going mainstream would seem to prove that the "Christian rock" label narrows down your audience by a huge degree. It's worth noting that the band rejects the label specifically because they feel that it excludes people who aren't Christians but would still enjoy the music. Their official stance is "The band members are Christians, it is reflected in the music, but the music is not written to be explicitly Christian in nature. We want to make music that everyone can relate to."
  • Steve Taylor
  • The Devil Wears Prada
  • Theocracy is a Christian Progressive Power Metal band.
  • Thousand Foot Krutch is a band that many people don't realize that they are Christian rock. Granted their song style is either rap, alternative rock, or metal (or some combination of the three) so not exactly what most people think Christian rock is. They tend to be more subtle than most bands as well. Although their song Look Away specifically mentions Jesus and songs like Breathe You In, Already Home, Falls Apart, Inhuman, and Watching Over Me can easily be thought of as Christian songs. For anyone familiar with Christian theology, the meaning of The End is Where We Begin is pretty obvious.
    "I'm an alien/ cause I'm not of this world/I had a name/but I've been changed/and now I can't stay the same"
  • Tourniquet is a Christian Progressive Thrash Metal band.
  • Another Christian music star who made a pop crossover in the early '90s was Kathy Troccoli, who landed a Top 20 hit in 1992 with the dance hit "Everything Changes." She's had several other AC hits as well.
  • Doom Metal band Trouble were once marketed as "white metal" due to their Bible-influenced lyrics and their admitted Catholic-upbringing. The musically similar Pentagram also deal with Christian themes, with frontman Bobby Liebling claiming he wanted to put the fear of God into people.
  • Underoath
  • In a strange twist, the metal band Vengeance Rising started as a Christian band, but the frontman and remaining member, Roger Martinez, later renounced Christianity and now seeks to make anti-Christian music. The other members have since reunited under the name Once Dead.
  • Brian Welch, guitarist of Korn, left the band when he became a Christian and started a solo career. He rejoined the band in 2013.
  • Zao


  • Aly & A.J. are mainly a mainstream pop duo, but have had success on Christian music charts as well.
  • It's debatable whether Creed is Christian Rock or simply Post-Grunge. Their lyrics tend to lean heavily into biblical imagery, but the band rejected the "Christian rock" categorization on the grounds that they didn't have an agenda to lead anyone to their specific religious beliefs.
  • Evanescence is a subversion. They were initially referred to as a Christian rock band, but they have publicly rejected the label, even asking for Christian music stores to stop selling their albums. Commercially, it was a smart move on their part — Christian rock bands usually don't go on to sell over fifteen million records internationally. Amy Lee was quoted on the other wiki as stating the Christian labeling was Ben Moody's thing. He left the group shortly after.
  • Lamb of God is sometimes mistaken for a Christian band by those unfamiliar with their work, considering that their name is taken from one of the biblical titles for Jesus. More than a surface-level look, however, will quickly reveal they are very much not, starting with their debut album Burn The Priest. Word of God is vague but has said they picked the name mostly to stand out ironically from the satanic band names popular in the Heavy Metal scene at the time.
  • Mutemath is a similar example to Evanescence. Their first EP was released under a Christian sub-label, so the band found a different company to sign with. They've since seen much more exposure, but their albums can still be found in Christian music stores. Don't think they qualify as Christian rock? Go listen to "Peculiar People", then read Isaiah 40:31. Funnily enough, "Peculiar People" was co-written with Jon Foreman of Switchfoot. Lead singer Paul Meany and drummer Darren King also used to be in the Christian rock/rap/reggae/funk/electronic band Earthsuit.
  • Nine Inch Nails' name inspired a popular Urban Legend that it's a reference to the nails used in the crucifixion of Christ. As with Lamb of God above, however, any similarities to Christian music disappear on any closer look.
  • The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus are another group which is on the fence; their first album, Don't You Fake It, emphasizes the general theme of being a good person (see their breakout single and anti-abuse song "Face Down"), but Lonely Road and Am I The Enemy? have more heavily Christian themes in the lyrics. For example, "Believe," from Lonely Road,talks about needing "a little help from above" to change the world. "Wake Me Up," from Am I The Enemy?, more straightforwardly discusses Christian redemption:
    Wake me up, I don't want to live without your love.
    Life me up - take me to a place not far above.
  • Patti Smith can't easily be called a Christian artistenote , but she has explored explicitly Christian themes, most notably in Easter and in her take on the 23rd Psalm (Privilege - Set Me Free'), which uses the psalm to throw down a challenge to God - to make Himself worthy of her worship.note  Dancin' Barefoot can also be read as a take on the Hail Mary devotional prayer - rewritten the Patti Smith way but still with a certain reverence. And "These Are The Words", written for a film about Pope Francis, has lyrics appropriate both to him and to his namesake St. Francis of Assisi.
  • Owl City is mainly a secular Indie Pop project, but Adam Young is a devout Christian and this sometimes reflects the lyrics of songs. All Things Bright and Beautiful is named for a hymn, and some tracks from it can basically be summed up as "Christian Indietronica". Owl City sometimes gets coverage from CCM media as well.
  • U2: A thoroughly Zig-Zagged example of a band that's been described as "too spiritual for rock but too strange for church." All the band members are Christian, and many of their songs contain overtly Christian themes or at least go heavy on the God-Is-Love Songs. On the other hand, they have never restricted themselves to Christian audiences or record labels, and a lot of their songs have a degree of ambivalence about faith, especially organized religion. Nonetheless, Christian fans have been happy to use their songs even in church; several denominations have put on entire services dubbed "U2charist". All that said, the band's career has been completely in the secular mainstream rock scene, and they will certainly not be filed under "Christian Rock" in anyone's listings.


  • Before many of these examples were the Bible-themed rock musicals of the early seventies, Jesus Christ Superstar and Godspell. The albums of music from these shows (and later from the movie versions of each) showed many record executives that there really was a market for Christian Rock/Pop.

Fictional examples:

Fan Works

  • In the Good Omens fic All The Best Tunes? by A.A. Pessimal, the demon Crowley and the angel Azaraphile have a go at pop and rock music promotion. On a visit to CBGB's in New York, circa 1974, they witness a young Patti Smith. Angel and Demon both find much to appreciate in her lyrics. Azaraphile realises the anger and the intensity of her performance of the 23rd Psalm (''Set Me Free!") is one of the most heartfelt, intense, prayers he has heard in a long time. He approves. It causes Crowley to flee and vomit in the bathroom, for exactly the same reason. Elsewhere, both claim the credit for Christian rock music as it can be claimed to advance the causes of both Heaven - and Hell.


  • In Privilege, pop star Steven Shorter's handlers strike an agreement with the government and the Church of England for Steve to "convert" to Christianity in order to promote conformity. The violence is removed from his stage show, and his band starts playing rock versions of songs like "Onward Christian Soldiers."
  • NBT: Never Been Thawed includes a subplot about a Christian punk band called The Christers. As it turns out, they shifted towards a Christian image entirely because they thought it might help them get a record deal, and all of their songs are just leftovers from the original incarnation of the band, but with lyrics clumsily rewritten to be about Christianity instead of sex - for instance, a song called "Pray" was originally called "Fuck".

Live-Action TV

  • Red Dwarf: Krytie TV: In an attempt to ruin Kochanski's date with ex-boyfriend Tim, Kryten helps Lister trash Tim's quarters. Kryten gives Lister a number of Rimmer's possessions to place around Tim's quarters. Apparently the pièces de résistance are some Christian rock music CD's, given "if they don't scare her off, nothing will!". One of the CD's is titled "Frank Assisi and the Apostles - Hymns in Rock".

Western Animation

  • An episode of The Simpsons had the Hair Metal band Quiet Riot become the Christian metal band "Pious Riot".
    "Christian rock's just like regular rock; you just replace the word "Jesus" with "baby"."
    • Larry Norman made a similar joke in the early '90s. "I mean, replace 'baby' with 'Jesus'..."
      • Allegedly, Ray Charles once said something similar about the blues and gospel — one's about God, the other's about women.
    • Played with in another episode when Ned expressed his happiness with scoring tickets to a Christian Rock concert. When he shows the tickets to Homer, we see that they are actually for a Chris Rock concert.
      "Well sir, I've never heard a preacher use the MF word so many times!"
    • There's also Ned's love of the Christian AC/DC tribute band AD/BC with their hit song "Kindly Deeds (Done For Free)".
    • Also this exchange as Reverend Lovejoy reads the church bulletin:
      Lovejoy: This Saturday you'll have a chance to 'party down' in the church basement to the Jesus rock stylings of Testament.
      Bart: [Dismissively] Everyone already knows all the best bands are affiliated with Satan.
    • Or when the Sunday service had musical guests in the form of the fictional band Covenant:
      "Hey, isn't that the drummer from Satanica?"
      "You know, I think it is."
    • And when Bart replaced the sheet music for the service with "In the Garden of Eden" by "I. Ron Butterfly".
      Homer: Hey Marge, remember when we used to make out to this hymn?
  • The South Park episode, "Christian Rock Hard", took this concept to the next level. In the episode, Cartman bets Kyle that he can form a band and earn a platinum album (one million copies sold), and starts a Christian rock band. But to avoid doing any actual song writing, he rips off a bunch of pop love ballads and just replaces all of the words like "baby" or "girl" with "Jesus", so most of his band's songs end up being about wanting to have sex with Jesus. He does end up getting a million copies of his album sold... but still doesn't win the bet, because in the world of South Park, Christian music has its own set of awards. Instead of silver, gold, and platinum; it's gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Since the bet was specifically for a platinum album, which Cartman did not earn, he loses the bet, and his following curse-filled tirade alienates his entire Christian fanbase.
    • The "having sex with Jesus" nature was likely due to the tendency in some Christian rock to use metaphors that sound very sexually-loaded to some non-fans - e.g. repeatedly saying that one wants to "touch," "feel," or "hold" Jesus.
  • In one episode of King of the Hill, Hank tries to get his son interested in Christianity again. He is horrified when Bobby becomes an aficionado of Christian Rock and starts hanging around with a group of "Christian Skaters" (played by guest stars Sum41); the horror is partly due to their appalling fashion sense and musical taste, but mostly because Hank doesn't want Bobby to treat Christianity just like another youthful fad.
    Hank: You're not making Christianity better, you're making rock-and-roll worse!
  • In Metalocalypse, Murderface attempts to find what religion is right for him; one of his first attempts takes him to a Christian rock concert, where he tries to groove with the horribly lame music with a pained look on his face.
  • Moral Orel had pious heavy metal band Multiple Godgasm.

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