Follow TV Tropes


Music / Newsboys

Go To
Top to bottom: the John James, Peter Furler, and Michael Tait eras of Newsboys.
Missing: A lot of people.

Where we're led all the living dead
Wanna leave their zombie mob.
It's a touching scene where they all come clean—
God help us, we just love our job!
"Wherever We Go"

Newsboys (sometimes stylized as newsboys) are an Australian Christian Rock band, formed in 1985, and originally called "The News" before migrating to the US in 1987 and changing their name. Survived in obscurity until 1994, when a song called "Shine" suddenly caught on, catapulting them to the forefront of Christian popular music.

Their music is pretty much everywhere on Christian radio, though songs with less of a "pop" sound don't get much play. Their style can be anywhere from pop rock, to slow ballads, to dance, to disco (especially on Love Liberty Disco, natch). Their lyrics have religious themes mixed in with wordplay and weird imagery.

Newsboys have changed their lineup quite a few times over the years: the only original member is frontman Peter Furler, who decided in 2009 to stop touring with the band, though he's still writing their songs and producing their CDs. He has gone on to pursue a moderately successful solo career in the Christian music scene. He and former bassist/vocalist Phil Joel later re-teamed with the current group to produce the aptly-titled album United.

They've been produced by Steve Taylor since their album Going Public, which is when the band's fortunes really started to take off. This is probably not a coincidence, considering that Taylor has been involved heavily in writing the band's lyrics and mixing their songs.

Personnel (founding members in bold, current members in italic):

  • Peter Furler (1985-2009, 2019; lead vocals, former drums)
  • George Peridikis (1985-1987, 1989-1990; guitar)
  • Sean Taylor (1986-1992; bass)
  • John James (1986-1997; lead vocals)
  • Phil Yates (1987-1989; guitar)
  • Corey Pryor (1988, 1990-1993; keyboards)
  • Jonathan Geange (1990-1991, 1992; guitar)
  • Vernon Bishop (1991-1992; guitar)
  • Kevin Mills (1992-1994; bass)
  • Jody Davis (1992-2009; guitar)
  • Duncan Phillips (1993-; drums and percussion, former keyboards)
  • Jeff Frankenstein (1994-; keyboards, synth bass, backing vocals)
  • Phil Joel (1994-2006, 2019; bass)
  • Randy Williams (2003; guitar, fill-in for Jody Davis on several live shows)
  • Bryan Olesen (2003-2006; guitar)
  • Paul Colman (2006-2009; guitar)
  • Michael Tait (2009-; lead vocals)


John James era (1987-1996)

  • He's Coming Back (1987)
  • Read All About It (1988)
  • Hell Is For Wimps (1990)
  • Boys Will Be Boyz (1991)
  • Not Ashamed (1992)
  • Going Public (1994)
  • Take Me to Your Leader (1996)

Peter Furler era (1998-2009)

  • Step Up to the Microphone (1998)
  • Love Liberty Disco (1999)
  • Thrive (2002)
  • Adoration: The Worship Album (2003)
  • Devotion (2004)
  • Go (2006)
  • In the Hands of God (2009)

Michael Tait era (2010-present)

  • Born Again (2010)
  • Christmas! A Newsboys Holiday (2010)
  • God's Not Dead (2011)
  • Restart (2013)
  • Hallelujah for the Cross (2014)
  • Love Riot (2016)
  • United (2019)

Newsboys provide examples of these tropes:

  • all lowercase letters: The band name is sometimes stylized as this on album covers.
  • Audience Participation Song: The audience sings at least one chorus to "Shine" and "Breakfast" - and throws boxes of Cap'n Crunch onstage for the latter.
  • Book Ends: "Breathe (Benediction)" at the end of Take Me to Your Leader is a much softer take on "Breathe" from earlier in the album.
  • BSoD Song: "Lost the Plot".
  • Christian Rock
  • Disappeared Dad: The subject of "Always"
  • Downer Ending: While "Elle G." on Going Public ends with the phrase "I know that You will overcome evil... for good", it's still about a girl who committed suicide.
  • Due to the Dead: "Breakfast" is about Breakfast Clubbers who scatter their friend's ashes in a cereal bowl and reminisce about how godly he was in life.
  • Flash Back: The first two verses of "The Way We Roll" tell the story of the band's early years.
    Out hockin' our shirts for more lights
    Till "Shine" hit the brights
    And we saw your faces
    And we got new bassists!
  • God-Is-Love Songs: Averted, mostly.
  • Gratuitous Disco Sequence: They're normally a Christian pop rock band, but they also did a disco-inspired album: Love Liberty Disco.
  • Greatest Hits Album: Shine: The Hits, The Greatest Hits, and The Ultimate Collection.
  • Grief Song: "Elle G."
  • Guyliner: Peter Furler was notorious for his love of eyeliner. The entire band sported some for the cover art and promotional images for Love Liberty Disco, which got some Moral Guardians up in arms about how "secular" and even "satanic" it looked.
  • Hair Flip: Several spectacular ones per show were guaranteed during Phil Joel's tenure.
  • Happy Rain: "Let It Rain"
  • Hurricane of Puns: "Take Me To Your Leader"
  • Least Rhymable Word:
    "What rhymes with 'Cornelius'? (Helium!)"
  • Lyrical Shoehorn: All. The. Time. "Live in Stereo" in particular.
  • Meaningful Name: The first album with Peter Furler officially replacing John James as lead singer happened to be called "Step Up to the Microphone" (though he had been doing a majority of the lead vocals for a few years by that time). The first album with Michael Tait replacing Peter Furler as lead singer happened to be called Born Again.
  • Money Song: Subverted in "Fad of the Land".
  • The Movie: Down Under the Big Top, made in 1996 to promote Take Me to Your Leader and common viewing at many a church youth group meeting of the time. Now available in its entirety on YouTube.
  • Mundane Made Awesome: "I Fought the La". The lyrics explain that the writer couldn't come up with any words to go with his awesome riff, so the chorus is just a lot of "la"s, sung as if it's the greatest song ever.
  • New Sound Album: Programmed rhythm tracks played a huge part in the band's early sound. Then came Take Me to Your Leader, on which the band avoided using them entirely.
    • Love Liberty Disco, with its intentionally retro sound, was noticeably Lighter and Softer than their earlier work.
    • Their two worship albums, Adoration and Devotion, were also Lighter and Softer than the sound they were known for.
  • Older Than They Look: Just about every member of the band, past or present. We're talking about a band that's been around since the mid-80's. Any one of them looks 40 at the oldest (exceptions might be founding members George Perdikis and John James). Current drummer/former keyboardist Duncan Phillips, born in 1964, is the oldest member (at least, with a confirmed birth year) in the band's history, and even he doesn't look older than about 45.
  • Piss-Take Rap: Steve Taylor contributes a few of these on Not Ashamed.
    • Furler sort of does this in the verses of "Your Love Is Better than Life".
  • The Power of Rock: According to "Wherever We Go", Newsboys music improves stock markets, reduces crime, and repairs the ozone layer, among other things.
  • Preacher's Kid: Peter Furler is the third of six children born to a pair of missionaries.
  • Retraux: The 50's sci fi album art for Take Me To Your Leader, and the 70s style music of Love, Liberty, Disco.
  • Revolving Door Band: Over the years, they've had three lead vocalists, four bassists, two keyboard players, two drummers, and a small army of guitarists. A few members have played more than one of these roles, and their current guitarist is also one of their former guitarists. (The earlier quote from "The Way We Roll" lampshades this concerning the bassists.) Peter Furler started out as their drummer, and became their most iconic singer. He was the last of the founding members to depart, in 2009, but came back (along with bassist Phil Joel) for United in 2019.
    • The Other Wiki's page on this band even has the band's discography split into "eras" depending on whether James, Furler, or Tait was the lead singer.
  • Rhyming with Itself: The homophone version, from "Lost the Plot":
    Gone with the free-range sheep
    While the big birds sharpen their claws
    For a time we stuck with the Shepherd
    But You wouldn't play Santa Claus
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: "Lights Out" is a rebuttal to Christians who take this attitude, hoping the End Times will occur soon.
  • Signature Song: Even Michael Tait knows well not to end a concert without doing "Shine" and "Breakfast."
  • Soprano and Gravel: Compare Tait to Furler or James (or Phil Joel). They sound nothing alike, to the point where an old Newsboys fan unaware of the lineup change probably wouldn't recognize them at all. (A slight variation on the trope since Tait never actually sang on a Newsboys recording with either of the other guys.) Meanwhile James and Furler (and Joel) sound so similar that even longtime fans aren't sure who sung which song.
  • Spectacular Spinning: During the Step Up To The Microphone tour, two drummers would perform from a platform that raised up in the middle of the crowd and then tilted at 45 degrees and spun. They brought it back for the Go tour.
  • Stage Names: Phil Joel dropped his surname, Urry, due to pronunciation issues.note 
  • Stealth Pun: The song "Elle G." can be considered an elegy (which The Other Wiki defines as "a mournful, melancholic or plaintive poem, especially a funeral song or a lament for the dead").
  • Step Up to the Microphone: Pete Furler's promotion from drummer to lead singer.
    • On one particular album, at-the-time bassist Phil Joel accompanied Peter with vocals on some songs and even sang solo on the intro track. What's this album called? Step Up to the Microphone.
  • Subverted Rhyme Every Occasion: Used a few times, most notably:
    That would make a bouncer take ballet
    Even bouncers who aren't... happy
    • Mind you, with the accent "ballet" and "happy" are near-rhymes.
  • Take That!: The rap verse in "Boycott Hell" (which isn't in the original DeGarmo & Key version) offers one to the very song they're covering.
    See, I agree we oughta boycott hell
    But we oughta boycott dumb lyrics as well.
  • The "The" Title Confusion: They're just Newsboys, not the Newsboys.
  • A Wild Rapper Appears!: Steve Taylor in "Boycott Hell" and Toby Mac in "God Is Not a Secret 2000". Both seem to come out of nowhere if you're accustomed to the original versions.