I have an email subscription to Christianity Today’s music section. Often, I’ll just skim over the email, but more often than not, I’ll barely take a look at it before I hit delete. This latest one, however, caught my attention. Given the fact that my church is preparing to undergo an “American Idols” series (which, by the way, I could use your input), I was particularly interested to learn the following…
Wednesday, January 09, 2008
Rise, People of Love
American Idol starts next week, and I’m actually more excited than usual. It must be that blasted writer’s strike, cutting back on my short list of “must-see TV.” (Anyone who made a New Year’s resolution to watch less TV in 2008 is going to have it really easy.)
Have you seen the latest ads for the show? (FOX has been running them non-stop, not surprisingly. They dominated the commercials for the BCS Championship game.) More specifically, have you noticed the music? One of the ads has a Coldplay-ish sounding band and the lyric “Rise, rise, people of love rise/People of love rise, give yourself away.” Sound familiar? It’s “Rise” by Robbie Seay Band, off their new album.
I know some of you might be wondering what the big deal is about a little 30-second ad, but consider this: the people at American Idol and FOX have a limitless pool of music from which to choose. They selected a song by a Christian artistâ€”a worship band, no lessâ€”to promote one of television’s most-watched programs. And it’s not like they picked a widely familiar, best-selling artist from Christian music. They selected a relatively obscure Christian band for their commercial, solely on its quality.
Russ Breimeier, who wrote this brief email commentary, goes on to state that this bodes well for Christian music and that it shows that culture influencers are willing to give faith-based music a chance “as long as the music lives up to the other stuff out there. Robbie Seay didn’t need to water down his words to garner attentionâ€”he needed a great song.”
I think good music is good music. Period. I think it’s great that those artists, who live by faith in Christ, can and do put out good music that transcends boundaries. Hopefully, the lyrics and messages are Truth-filled and inspire folks toward greater faith and good deeds.
The rest of the commentary…
It also shows that different Christian artists are better suited for different settings. The music of Casting Crowns is no stranger to Christian radio, Sunday morning worship, and promotional tools for ministries, but it’s probably not something that can connect with secular audiences. However, Caedmon’s Call’s “Ten Thousand Angels” will be featured on Grey’s Anatomy this Thursday (January 10) as a backdrop to what’s being described as a powerful, redemption-themed segment.
There’s a need for both kinds of artistry in our culture. Some music explicitly shares the Gospel, and some merely plants a seed that can lead to the Gospel. Our art is a diverse reflection of who we are as the body of Christ. Whether it’s used in the church, on the radio, on a television program, or even in a 30-second advertisement, we can rest easy knowing that God can use the music we make in numerous ways to serve his purposes.
On the surface, the use of Robbie Seay’s song may seem like savvy commercial placement. To me, it’s a call to action for us to be diligent in being active in culture on behalf of Jesusâ€”exactly what Seay intended with “Rise” (though I’m sure he never dreamed it would be used this way).