Friday, July 2, 2010

Owl City and Christian Music

Until recently, I was a big believer in only listening to Christian music. Pretty much ever.

My dad wasn't around a lot growing up and didn't live with us (but was still very much my dad and I love him to death), so I looked up to my brother quite a bit for inspiration, leadership within our home, and for advice from a male. At one point I remember Tim (yes brother is also Tim) taking away my Tiffany tape when he overheard me singing to her when I had my headphones on (dang, I wish I had learned you can't hear yourself sing when your headphones are on but that other people can!).

Dad played Simon and Garfunkel, the Beatles, and others in his car when we did get a chance to hang (I secretly relished in those moments). My mom and Tim only ever played the local Christian radio station or one of our contemporary Christian tapes (yes, tapes). I was taught that it was dishonoring to God to listen to anything but specifically Christian music. This lasted until my brother went to college and he started apologizing for not understanding music fully. He then started to teach me that there's nothing wrong with listening to good, quality music and that while this often includes Christian music, it isn't only Christian music.

But he had already so ingrained it in my head that I stayed almost solely a Christian music listener, for the most part until recently when I've started exploring other genres. Some of my dearest, very godly friends love some good secular music, and are teaching me there's really nothing wrong with that. And they're right. Just like with everything else, that we use our discernment, and that we continue to honor God. I can still honor God by knowing other music and enjoying it with my own discretion.

So when you catch me jamming to a totally secular mix of upbeat/rock out fun music know that the lyrics aren't ingraining themselves into my head and that the main reason I listen to them is when I feel like dancing, need something really upbeat to help me as I try to get stuff done around the house, or need an excuse to just beat-bop.

Don't ask.

I wonder though... what do you think? 

My latest love is Owl City.

They are fun, funky, hip, upbeat, and the lyrics are often downright hilarious.

And while Adam Young, mastermind behind Owl City, is a devout Christian, he's not technically classified as Christian music, nor do his lyrics ever blatantly or specifically reference Christ or God. Does that mean it's not uplifting or Christ-glorifying music? Does that mean those strictly listening to Christian music can't give him a shot? 

What about the subtlety of the lyrics to Meteor Shower?:

I can finally see that You're right there beside me
I am not my own, for I have been made new
Please don't let me go I desperately need You

I am not my own, for I have been made new
Please don't let me go I desperately need You

lyrics from lyrics mania

Now that I know his story, I believe he's referring to God there, but without knowing his story there'd be no clear way to know that except for the capitalization of the deity pronoun "You" (but you can't exactly see the written lyrics every time you're listening to a song unless you are always at your computer or have the CD case handy every time).

Recently Adam did an interview with Christianity Today. An excerpt and video to it can be found here at Justin Taylor's blog and the full interview here at CT.

Hubster is a big believer in only listening to Christian music as well. I've tried really hard to at least get him into Owl City, but no luck so far.

I remember when I was in youth group and we debated about Michael W. Smith and Amy Grant going "over" into secular music. Now maybe you didn't grow up in as strict an environment, but those who did, do you remember this? In the contemporary, ubber-conservative circles, it became a big no-no to listen to Smith or Grant. So I stopped listening to them for years. I still can't listen to Amy Grant, her voice annoys me, but I love Michael W. Smith all over again.

I mean really, he's legend.

So...all of this only-listen-to-Christian-music became ingrained in my head for the next decade after my brother threw away my Tiffany tape. Except the college dorm floor jams to Barenaked Ladies If I Had a Million Dollars and whoever's Macarana, of course.

What, you've never done that? Oh yeah, me either.


So what do you think?

As an added bonus, now we have Twitter to continue the fun. For lots of giggles, follow Owl City here. Or read the blog here. He's pretty durned funny. I've been known to spew drinks from out of surprise for some of the things he says in that hilarious way of his.

My brother is currently trying very hard to get me to fall head-over-heels in love with the Zac Brown Band. I now know my brother doesn't really know me at all. They're country. Need I say more?

Or shall I gag for you and demonstrate my true detest of all country music??

Nah, I'll spare you.

Now pardon me, I have a marvelous mix of tunes to go listen to.

Enya and Josh Groban included.


Vikki G said...

You are too funny! You know sometimes you just gotta dance even those of us with lots of aches and pains...haha I do enjoy all kinds of music...and I love country!hahaha but for the longest time when growing up my parents also banned "secular" music. No harm no foul though as this lasted for a short while and now that I am a parent I have just tried to instill in my kids to not listen to questionable music otherwise have fun~
Have a blessed 4th,

Mary @ Giving Up On Perfect said...

Yes, please gag so I can understand completely your dislike of country music! ;) Haha! I actually love ALL kinds of music, country included. But I grew up in a family that listened to everything - so it wasn't a matter of learning or relearning or unlearning. I'm glad you're expanding your musical horizons. I think you'll find lots of great stuff that, while not labeled CHRISTIAN, still points us to God.

I was really interested to hear about Owl City, though. I don't love their music, although I like it well enough. But I just found another local Christian station this week and heard them playing Fireflies. I was surprised, but now it makes sense!

Anonymous said...

What?! Country music is the best!!!! Zac Brown band is really good too. Give them a try. Reba is pretty amazng too...Carrie Underwood too.

Check out Danny Gokey's album My Best Days :)

Also, Amy Grant's new album Somewhere Down the Road is pretty good! I love it.

The only country that you def should not listen to is Taylor Swift (who is pop not country; plus she CAN'T sing) and Sugarland. I just can't stand Jennifer Nettles voice (she's the lead singer in Sugarland). I can tolerate Sugarland's first album but after that no.