Sunday, December 14, 2003

Labeling music

Over at This Guy Falls Down, Marc (of the band Third Day) was talking about the definitions of Christian and secular music this week. He raises an intersting question: What makes something "Christian" music vs. "secular" music?

Is it the artist identifying himself as a Christian? If that's the case, the Christian music section at the CD store needs to be a lot bigger.

Is it the artist making frequent references to God in his lyrics? If so, U2 is the world's most popular Christian band.

The usual assumption seems to be that signing to a Christian label defines an artist as "Christian." But what about when that artist signs to another label? Does that undo their "Christian band" status?

The same sort of problems creep up when you try to ask "What makes an artist 'alternative'?" or "What makes a song a 'pop' song?" The answers tend to contradict one another.

We work so hard to categorize everything for fear that we might otherwise accidentally listen to the wrong sort of music. Because God forbid a self-proclaimed rock fan accidentially listen to a fast-paced Dixie Chicks song without realizing it was actually country music.

Maybe Nick Hornby is right, and it's all just pop music.

Instead of worrying about the categories, though, try this: Listen to a band or album or song because you like its music — not because you like its supposed type of music. By dropping our musical biggotry we might find a lot more out there that we enjoy.

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