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Questioning music for teenagers

Started by Sonifo, December 11, 2003, 09:55:57 AM

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My son Troy wants me to ask you which bands are appropriate to listen to and which ones aren't.

Here are some of the bands he is worried about:

Soul embrassed, Extol, Norma Jean, Mortification or Agony scene.

He thinks East West is Christian, but just to check, what do you think?

He heard one of his friends CD's (Agony Scene) and he didn't think it sounded like Christian music.  He got the CD at the Christian Store.  

I bought Troy a CD about a year ago at the Christian store and had to take it back because of bad language.  This makes me wonder how many bands are out there that say their Christian but really aren't.  I think I remember Karma or Nards talking about this.

Sonja and Troy


As I travel around in my car back and forth on the highway,  I like to listen to Christian music.  It used to be that on WDCX (Buffalo) we'd get lovely music in the afternoons but not any more.  It's all very "raunchy" and so-called "Christian" rock.   How anything could be called "Christian" and be "rock" is far beyond me.  The two terms just don't go together at all.   Many of us have written to the station complaining about this.  But to no avail.

I think that as Christian parents we must be so careful as to what we allow to be played in our home.

I'm sorry, Sonja, but I know nothing about these groups you mention but maybe some others will have some information.  

<<<Pat gets down from her soapbox>>>

"Click for Waterloo Wellington, Ontario Forecast"


Pat and I obviously have very different tastes in music, but I don't have a problem with that at all, and I hope that she can forgive me for disagreeing with her somewhat here :)

Sonja, just to be clear here, let me break down some things about Christian "rock".  

There is "contemporary Christian".  These are typically the songs the general church person eventually winds up hearing in church 3-4 years after the original artist records them.  Amy Grant, Michael W. Smith, MercyMe, Newsong, Jaci Velasquez, Avalon, Steven Curtis Chapman, Point of Grace, etc.  Typically aimed at parents, believe it or not.  The idea is that this is the music Christian parents are completely comfortable recommending to their children, but it's usually not very much like the music that youth listen to when left to their own choices.  Drums, guitars, and keyboards are the basic instruments, but the beats are typically comparable to "Adult Contemporary".  Themes are usually about basic Christian life, worship, and salvation.  Basically regarded in the modern church as acceptable music for Christians and rarely rejected in church settings.   A lot of youth groups go to concerts by these artists.

From there we see a change to "rock".  Let's classify what is thought of as "rock".  To be secular for a minute, think about the Rolling Stones.  Lyrics are usually easily understood, the beats are simple but more "pulsing", the guitars are electric but not incredibly loud, etc.  This is basic "rock" style.  There IS a Christian comparison, but it's hard to pinpoint a single band that does it.  A lot of contemporary artists will have SOME true rock on their albums.  The Newsboys experiment with so many types that they would often fall into this category.  Again, it's usually plainly Christian and only questionable if you have an aversion to the rock style in general.  Third Day, Jars of Clay, Tait, Kevin Max, Lincoln Brewster, Sonic Flood, etc. generally would fit in here.  99% of parents would be delighted if their children were listening to this stuff and nothing else.  Okay, 95%.  Again, a lot of youth groups go to these concerts.

To really break all this down even further, a lot of Christian stores carry what they call "hard music".  This is the next step "downward", I guess, into the areas where ministry becomes blurred with evangelism.  Many of these artists make the claim that they are offering their music only to draw far out youth to the message of the gospel.  I consider myself to be highly unqualified to judge what God has called them to do, but sometimes I question their direction.  

Hard music has many types - melodic hard rock, rap-rock, rap (which is usually nowhere near as heavy as most older people think it is, it's just usually played loud and associated with gangster types), heavy metal, death metal, punk rock, and on and on.  Fewer youth groups are going to go to these concerts, because fewer churches are comfortable with the musical style.  Many of the bands play in much more secular settings, theoretically with an evangelistic intent.  Most of these are bands you will NEVER hear on the radio, (with the exception of specifically youth oriented segments like The Sound of Light (www.soundoflight.com), because the adult Christian population cannot tolerate these musical styles.  

I listen a lot to www.christianrock.net.  They play an incredibly varied range of Christian rock music.  The good thing is that they always show the lyrics as they play the song.  The amazing thing is, many of the lyrics are SO blatantly and strongly Christian that I think many people would be surprised.  What I have learned , though, just as your son did, is that not everybody has the right focus.  I tend to visit a band's website and see how much Jesus they discuss.  That's what really matters.  I think the most important thing for Troy to be able to do is exactly what he has done - identify the real Christian music.  I'm impressed that he brought this up to you.  

If he likes fairly heavy music, the new Skillet album is great, I understand.  I'm a bit of a Skillet fan myself.  Disciple, Petra, Pillar, Kutless, The Benjamin Gate, Seven Day Jesus, Third Day, etc., all seem to have pretty solid Christian direction.  

Please don't misunderstand any of these impressions of mine to be a guarantee that these bands are perfect.  For instance, I am increasing distraught with POD in their crossover into mainstream music.  Any mention of Christ has long gone away, but they want to give the impression that they are following God's leading in their lives.  They have been quoted in mainstream music magazines using language that is very inappropriate, in my opinion.  So, while I don't buy their stuff or support them, neither do I feel it's appropriate for me to attack what may truly be a God-blessed evangelism/ministry work.  

I also do not support most of the death/punk bands, because I have found a lot of lyrics to be very questionable as to their real direction.  BERNARD'S RULE - ALWAYS QUESTION IT IF IT'S IN THE HARD MUSIC SECTION!!!!!!  It may be great, or it may not!  Read the lyrics.  Do they promote Jesus and the truth of the Bible?  If not, I recommend not getting it unless it is an artist you already "know" and trust.  

The reason for my caution is rooted in a recent story.  Evanescence is a band with a vocalist named Amy Lee.  I LOVE their sound.  I had been hearing them on christianrock.net, then I happened to hear their song on a secular station.  That confused me a little, but then the story came out.  Evanescence didn't want to be a Christian band, but their record label thought they did.  So, the label promoted them as being a Christian band.  They put their albums in Christian stores.  Their songs actually sound very positive and Christian, but they didn't want them to be Christian.  So they said things in the media that completely tore down any testimony they might have had, and the record company actually issued a request to all the Christian stores, asking them NOT to sell the Evanescence album, because they felt it was deceptive.  Now, Evanescence albums are in the mainstream section of Walmart, Target, KMart, etc, and they are making a LOT more money.  (Which was most likely their actual goal, anyway, and I think the controversy contributed to that.  In other words, I think it was a publicity play :) )

As you said, just because it is in a Christian bookstore doesn't make it Christian.  It most likely will NOT be Satanic, but it simply may not agree with the Christianity that you are attempting to teach Troy as his Mom.  Make SURE that the music he listens to agrees with what you, as his mom, are teaching him about Jesus and Christianity.  If it doesn't, pull the plug.  Don't let the "Christian" label confuse you.  It may be Christian but be in complete disagreement with your teachings.  

Teaching Troy the discretion to ask the question that he asked is the very BEST thing you can teach him, when it comes to music.  

Part two, always look up the band's website.  Read it thoroughly.  It is usually very revealing.  www.cmcentral.com is also usually a pretty good place to read interviews with the artists and really learn their heart.  (The really hard guys usually don't show up there, but anyway.)

Stay in touch with Troy's music.  Don't get "hung up" on the style, but realize that the "style" can provide clues as to how carefully you and he need to analyze the lyrics.  The basic rule - the more "contemporary" the music is, the more careful the artist is not to cross boundaries, because he/she knows his or her music will probably reach the general adult Christian population.  The "harder" the music, the less care the artist seems to take to keep his lyrics properly focused, probably because he knows that adults will not "like" his music and thus will never listen to the lyrics.  Don't let Satan trick you because you weren't paying attention :)  I would be making a huge mistake if I just listed a bunch of bands and told you they were safe and no one else was.  Learning proper discretion is the most important thing with music.  

Agony Scene - Very death metal sounding lyrics.  Lots of talk about the dead, eyes sewn shut, habeas corpus, brothels, etc.  Not really your best teenager themes, but the ONE mention of Christ in all the lyrics they show on their page might reach some kid that is desperately searching.  My advice - as a Christian teenager, stay away from it.  It will make you callous to the real death metal, and soon you'll have a mess in your brain.  Again, I'm not saying that they don't have a purpose or that God's not using them.  

Extol -  If you can get past the cover, they seem to be a little more directed at Christians rather than pseudo-evangelism.  That's good.  "Embraced", however, seems to be the testimony of a converted Satanist.  Perhaps that's what these guys are, and they are trying to reach out to others.  The themes still seem rather dark and could be depressing if you let them live in your mind and spirit.  That said, "Enthralled" is almost a praise song.  (Not sure about the music, I'm just reading lyrics.)  But YOU need to make sure it sits right with what God says to you.  Don't trust me to make that decision for you.  

I hope this SORT OF answers your question.  I feel like I've said way too little in way too many words, but anyway....

This is a huge burden in my life, for Christian music to not be a stumbling block to Christians.

<nards gets down off HIS soapbox and prepares to apologize for offending virtually everyone>
I survived open heart surgery.... :)

Check out my blog at www.bernardshuford.com.


Wow!  I really appreciate this, Nards.  I have read it all and will read it tomorrow with my boy's.  Thanks for the links.  We will definitly look at them.

I feel both my boys are making some pretty good decisions when it comes to music.  I am so proud of them both.

Thanks again!!

BTW~Nards, have you heard of Apologeti X?  My boys won 2 cds of theirs and may win 2 tickets to a concert they will be having on New Years Eve.


Apologetix is a great group with a great direction, in my opinion.  They obviously spend a lot of time listening to and learning secular music, but I think they are solidly Christian.
I survived open heart surgery.... :)

Check out my blog at www.bernardshuford.com.


First off... Let me say hello... I am new here and I just wanted to comment on this topic and I hope I get to know more of you as I continue to post on this board.

Now on to the topic at hand, Sonifo, I first want to say that I commend you for taking an interest in your child's tastes in music even though, you may not care for them. I wish more parents would do that with their kids.

I have grown in a Christian family & in the music industry all my life and been on both sides of the spectrum and I must say, I rather agree with Evanesence's stance (even though I don't care for their music.) on wanting to go the secular market route. I've been a guitarist and/or vocalist in bands going on 18 years in both markets and really feel that working as hard as I can to make it in a market where I will be more respected by my peers than going into the christian music industry.

And here is why... A lot of christian alternative record labels sign a young band that is the flavor of the minute to make a quick buck, and hence we have a lot of bands that really make a bad name for us, rather than choosing a band that has a top notch quality and letting their talent take them to the top.

Now I have a question for you... As Christians are we not glorifying God each time we play our songs, even though it may not proclaim his name? I every time I play... I play to glorify God... not for any of the audience, although it is fun.  ;D

Here is the option I offer you... I have had a lot of parents come to me because my music is not the normal cookie cutter Christian music. Some of them have been irate at the music I play... and even spit on me. The one thing I would suggest you do (with your son) is e-mail these bands. I know a lot of Christian bands are every open to their fans becuase the understand that without them, they are nowhere. So ask them about their songs and don't just take their lyrics for face value. Ask them what their intent behind writing some of their songs are. They may not say God or Jesus in the lyrics but may have a postive outlook even though it may not seem it to you. I have come to respect these people's opinions and really have enjoyed when parents have e-mailed me with questions about my music.

Also... A lot of Christian bands nowadays look at their band as their ministry. I mean they can get into a lot of places where a man in a suit and tie saying you need to accept Jesus or die could never go... Or even bands that have a Christ centered message. Some people tend to turn you off the minute you have anything like that to say... So these bands can go and talk to people and other bands and love them to Christ. Isn't that what God's word says, "They will know we are Christians by our love"?

I support bands a lot that have no word about Chirst in their music. They are strong Christians and believe that this is where God wants them. And I have personally seen God blow open doors in my own bands and others into great opportunities for them to share their faith with others.

So I encourage you to sit down with your son and e-mail these bands and ask them about their music... and then make an educated decision on why or why you don't want to listen to the music.


Thanks Gregg for the input.  We will do just that, email the bands.  If I can find the email addresses.  This will be something my kids and i will do when we get the computer back up and running.

I find that if the covers of the cd's have a bad feel to it then I won't let the boys buy it.  I seen skulls and knives on POD's cd.  My son even commented on it.  Not sure where they are going with that.  You got any ideas on that?  hmmm..

Another thing is, what about the words?  What words are good in a song and what words aren't.  I find that most songs are about lose of love or sad and depressing songs.  Am I wrong here?  I don't listen to nothing but Christian music so I could be way off base.  


Soni --- Most of the bands have a contact e-mail... Unless they are a large marketed band like POD. I personally have played shows with tham and know their heart for reaching people for Christ but not shoving things down people throats... Which is a way a lot of our generation feels... they just want to build relationship and love them to Christ. And if people ask questions and see something different about them they will tell them "Hey this is what I believe..."

Some of the lyrics like I said before you may have to look into to see a message of God. It might not just come right out and say it. These ones might be ones you want to e-mail the bands about and ask them where they were at in life when they wrote the song and what they meant by it.

And some songs are sad and may be about a loss of love, death, etc. and that may have been written by the artist as a means of healing from that loss. I know I have written a couple of songs that might be said are dark and depressing, but in the end they helped me heal.. and kids see that can identify with that.

Well I hope that helps you. If you have any more questions I would be more than happy to help. I can also recommend some bands that might be more to your liking that I know are strong christians and I can explain the lyrics to you. Just let me know.


No Offence Troy but I have never heard any of those bands. Agony Scene is nt a Christian band I dont think can you give me some lyrics?
Well I gtg


Hi, Sonja! (that's my sister's name too!) As a Christian teenage boy, I know somewhat about the bands you mentioned. While most of the bands you mentioned are very strong in their faith, as far as I can tell, I do remember hearing that the band "Norma Jean" may not be all that Christian. One way to research these bands would be to do a google.com search using the name of the band followed by the word "lyrics." I think you can tell a lot about a band by their lyrics. If the lyrics seem to be no different than those of a secular band, than perhaps you may not want to let your son buy a cd from that band. But if the lyrics seem to be deeply spiritual, then maybe the music will be ok for your son to listen to. Good luck and God bless!


A Baker

   There is a Scots band called Runrig(they have a Canadian frontman) whose stuff is cool. I do'nt know if they have done anything for the Stateside market. Their music is mainly secular but some of the boys in the band are christians, and it shows as they write the material for their songs.
                            Blessings to Troy.


Just thought I'd hop in on this since I'm more familiar with some of the louder music.

With the exception of Agony Scene (don't know anything about them), as far as I know, Soul Embraced, Extol, Norma Jean and East West are all Christian bands. Tell your son to check out Disiciple (http://www.disciplerocks.com), Kutless (http://www.kutless.com) and Falling Up (http://www.fallingupcrashings.com). In addition, he might enjoy the online radio station Christianhardrock.net - they play a lot of the most popular Christian hard rock tunes and have lyrics for most of the songs, so there are probably quite a few bands on that site that he'd like.

Unfortunately, so many of the Christian bands that are popular with people my age (I'm 22) have a habit of making songs that can be played on secular stations without people immediately labeling them Christian songs, hoping to get non-Christian kids hooked on their music and then come out and say that they're Christians, and hope the kids tune into that. While this may work with some, I think it's better when bands come out and say that they're Christians and show that they don't care what other people may think of them. Kutless and Disciple are two bands that are really in-your-face with their faith, which is what I like to see.

Your son might like ApologetiX as well (see the link in my sig). They take popular secular songs, re-write the lyrics so they have a Christian message and then re-record the song while trying to make it sound as close to the original song as possible, and they're getting so good that sometimes it's very hard to tell the difference...
The Oldiesmann
Forum Guru
I've sinned greatly, but Christ's for real, baby, it's a wonder He saved me and just didn't hate me, so won't you tell Him 'Save me!' and please stand up?... - J. Jackson (http://www.apologetix.com for more info).


i have went to many sites for suposedly christain hip hop..ie rap and it is not that at all
so many times a rap group especially will make a great christian song then turn right around the next one and make filth garbage.....I don't get it...if they want to waddle in filth then go for it....
but i guess its all about the money and they TRY to play both sides of the fence...myself i write songs and have recently tried my hand at hip hop and rap....and I ASSURE you there ALLLL good stuff in them as i preach Christ in every line of every song..as it should be......I would love to have your son listen to some of the songs me and my buddy have made(and even my grand kids)
my friend is a great true lyricist.....whith terific lyrics in his hip hop he does....i write most of them and he sings em...but we are going to collaberate on a couple soon....but anyway....i have been going to put some up on my sites (i have some great ones there now..great lyrics anyway...
my voice ..maybe not the best but...i do believe you will like my lyirics very much.....and sooon I will put some hip hop up there for your son.....just follow the links at the bottom....and let me know
if i can help him choose any certain songs.... I would love to help him find the "GOOD STUFF"
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I appreciate all this info. 

Troy has done alot of investigating since I posted this.  He has learned what is Christian and what is not.  His favorite groups are demonhunter for hard core music, Cross movement for Rap and Thousand foot Crutch for basic rock. 

We all like Apoligetix ...one of my favorite bands.  ;D

Thanks so much for replying.


The Cross Movement's lyrics are very powerful and very spiritual, so I think your son made a good choice. I don't know too much about TFK and DH's lyrics, but I am familiar with their music. I'm glad you were able to sort through all that. :)


Soni, Just a quick note to the above discussion.  I personally believe that if a person just listens to one type of music their education becomes lopsided.  I think a good balance of classical, jazz, sound tracks, old hymns, Christian Contemporary music, some opera (like Phantom of the Opera, and Cats), as well as the Zjam type of music will give Troy and the rest of the kids out there a truly balanced music appreciation.

I do allow some of the rock, in short bursts, from  www.zjam.com and the line is tight as to what is acceptable and what is not.  Melaura is quite compliant and does not push against the line.  She also enjoys other music as well.


Judy, he has to listen to that type of music because Mike and I love classical music and I love Opera.  I personal can't stand jazz unless I am tapping.


This has been an interesting discussion.

Soni, I like Jazz, adore classical, but don't care for opera.  I like rap with a positive message and can't handle hard rock with the screeching guitar. :)  Just preference.  I used to listen to lots of blues, before I met Jesus,  because I could relate and liked doing that style.  I just got happy and left that. :)  As a dancer, I'm sure you like music that stirs that desire to dance. :)  Some music....you just can't be still. haha

  Kids today don't relate much to my style.  I remember when I was 40,(23 years ago) just met Jesus,  and was thrilled with the contemporary music that said just what I was feeling in a now language.  Only much later did I come to appreciate  the old hymns.  (some(well, lots) I still question..because they seem so dry and  head manufactured to me)   

Pat, I have to agree....some of the hard rock stuff...I can't even figure out what they're saying, much less want to listen to the music!  But my grandaughter understands every word.   Kids today think and act on a different level...everything is fast.   I would just want the message to be something that was heard so loudly that they would be confronted with the truth of a God who values and loves them.