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Christian music and Katy Perry – why do fans care so much?

katyhudson.jpgBack in June 2008, when I first started blogging about Christian music here at Beliefnet, I did a post about Katy Perry and how she’d once released a Christian album under the name Katy Hudson.
It was one of those stories that I thought was interesting and hoped would spur some discussion about Christian music, since the blog was new and we were trying to develop a readership.
Oh, it spurred discussion, all right. Readers speculated about her life, her upbringing, her sexuality, and the comments were all over the board.
I did a few follow up posts and eventually was able to sit in on a phone conference with Katy Perry, where her answers to the writers who were able to ask questions shed some light on my readers’ comments and speculation.
And with that, I hoped that we had put the Katy Perry story to rest.

Yet here we are, more than two years later, and those posts about Katy Perry are the most read posts on this blog, week after week after week after week.
I don’t understand why.
There are other pop artists with ties to Christian music. Natasha Bedingfield, for instance, once was part of Hillsong in England. Heidi Montag considered dabbling in Christian music, Miley Cyrus graced the cover of Brio magazine and season 8 of American Idol had a Christian music theme, with a top 10 loaded with Christian musicians. “Glee”‘s Kristen Chenowith (“Pushing Daisies”, “Wicked”) has a background in Christian music. And let’s not forget the Jonas Brothers.
When I wrote about these artists a lot of people commented, but the interest quickly faded away for the next celeb story du jour.
And yet the Katy Perry story hangs on, week after week.
So tell me – why is Katy Perry’s story so important to you? Why is it so important for readers to speculate on her faith, her family, her upbringing? I’m just curious, since it doesn’t seem to be the case with the other artists I mentioned.
Natasha Bedingfield’s Christian music past
Katy Perry, Christian recording artist?
Katy Perry: Clearing The Air On Her Faith, Her Parents And That Celibacy Vow
Heidi Montag, Christian music artist?
Posts about Danny Gokey
Posts about Kris Allen
5 things I hate about the Jonas Brothers

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posted July 16, 2010 at 11:47 am

I think people care more because Katy’s breakout song was about kissing a girl…which is an extremely controversial thing for a “Christian” to sing about, ovbiously. That gets people’s drama-bone all tickled. The “fall from grace” stories probably get the most hits.
On a wider scale, I’ve always thought it was hypocritical for us to want our entertainers (musicians, mostly) to be PERFECT Christians. They should sing ONLY about Jesus (even as we write them off as not being creative)and live humble lives that would put St. Francis to shame. All of this to receive our approval, even though we would not pass the same test.

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Joanne Brokaw

posted July 16, 2010 at 2:35 pm

And you know what’s so ironic? Ray Boltz singing about Jesus and Christian fans in essence boycotting him because he came out of the closet. These past two years have got me thinking that we don’t really need a Christian music industry, outside of hymns and worship. Christian rock, pop, CCM, adult contemporary, rap, etc? Don’t need it.

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Michael Ehret

posted July 16, 2010 at 3:46 pm

Joanne: Say more. Don’t need it. Why? I did not make the connection.

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posted July 17, 2010 at 8:02 am

Katy Perry has never rejected her Christian faith, so I wouldn’t say she fell from grace. If you watch her latest video, although it is far from a religious sermon, it is entertaining and you can very clearly see her Jesus tatoo. She doesn’t try to cover it up. I’m an older guy, from the Rolling Stones, Doors, David Bowie era but like to listen to modern music. Most artists back then had a very dark side, drugs, etc.. Katy Perry has an addiction all right, junk food! She is very talented, attractive, has manners, can be very funny and witty and is very sexy. She also pays special attention to all her fans through Facebook and Twitter. I noticed a lot of bashing of her (not here) because she went commercial and stopped recording Christian music. Let’s see…I read her fellow Christians saying they didn’t like her Christian album, it didn’t sell well. Since she recorded her last album, well, just her Proactive pimple cream deal is paying her SEVEN MILLION alone! Yeah, I like her. I think she is actually wholesome. And I think a lot of other people do too, which is why this is and will be going on week after week after week. Katy Perry is a good girl!

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posted July 17, 2010 at 12:28 pm

I suspect the interest in the Katy Perry story has to do with its shock value. Folks like the Jonas Brothers and Natasha Bedingfield may have backgrounds in the Christian music industry, but their secular music consists mostly of benign love songs. Since their careers have been clean (relatively speaking, anyway), their stories don’t generate much interest. Katy Perry, on the other hand, sings songs that explicitly mention Lesbian kissing, PMS, and erections. She respects no boundaries. Because her overtly sexual lyrics and accompanying raunchy music videos are so contrary to what would be considered appropriate for a Christian recording artist, the idea that she once recorded a Christian music album is jaw-dropping. And, of course, it raises questions about why she changed so radically. Does she just want attention? Did she abandon her faith? Why?

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Joanne Brokaw

posted July 19, 2010 at 12:27 pm

Michael, I think that the Christian music industry has grown to be simply an alternative to mainstream music – same music but with a Jesus fish. Artists are signing dual contracts, Christian labels are now subsidiaries of mainstream conglomorates, and in the end no one can really define Christian music. If a Christian sings it, does that make it Christian? If it has “Christian” lyrics, is it a Christian song, even if it’s sung by an atheist? I mean, America can’t even really define what “Christian” is as a religion; how can we define a music genre?
If Christian music is music for the church, then hymns and worship music are probably the best music to fit that genre. Otherwise, it’s pop or rock or adult contemporary. Of course, that would mean that all of these Christian bands would be lost in the mainstream music scene – so we have a commercial subgenre that sells music with the Jesus fish stamp of approval.
I think the CCM industry was useful for a while, but now, when you’ve got Michael W. Smith on tour with Lynyrd Skynyrd and Sean Hannity, and rock bands like Flyleaf all over MTV, it makes more sense to bring modern styles of music with uplifting lyrics to the mainstream, rather than hiding ourselves in a subculture.
Just my two cents. :)

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Joanne Brokaw

posted July 19, 2010 at 12:38 pm

You have a point about the shock value. I hadn’t really thought about that.
I have to be honest: I loved sitting in on that telephone conference call. Katy Perry is so funny and she’s very honest and she was very, very respectful of her parents, her Christian upbringing, her beliefs, etc. And she talked a lot about being rebellios as a teen, so I don’t know that she changed so much as she is just now openly who she is.

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posted July 24, 2010 at 5:24 am

Unfortunately, many free online music can not be downloaded legally, because they are subject to copyright. There are also consequences for anyone caught illegally downloading and distributing the music of others.
Once you stumble upon the music you can download legally, so there is a risk that is loaded with virus, spyware and adware. There are also ethical concerns for Christians who want to download music legally authorized.
How to find free Christian music can be downloaded legally, then?
Your best bet is to find an online site that hosts indie Christian hymns. These songs are free to control other people, no producer or record companies involved.

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posted July 26, 2010 at 12:32 pm

You want the God’s honest truth? Sure her lyrics, and vocals and attitude are great. But really, it’s one thing, actually two.
It’s her breasts. Seriously. Think about it.

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posted July 28, 2010 at 10:58 am

Her first album was very well-written, and there seemed to be an undeniable voice of wisdom and truth behind each song on that album. Go back to some of her interviews when she was touring and performing as a Christian artist (try CCM Magazine’s archives). She was so mature,… classy even. What perplexes me is not so much her break from Christian music, but the decline in her artistry. Not that long ago she was switching back and forth between piano and the acoustic guitar while opening for Jars of Clay, and now she’s singing bubble-gum pop while belting out lyrics that – in my opinion – are way below her capabilities.
I honestly believe what we’ve been seeing is a very public rebellion against her strict upbringing, and even moreso – against her parents. I think we’ll see a day when she makes her faith her own and returns to her Christian roots.
I think right now she is finally wrestling with her faith, which is something she completely avoided in recent years. I think she is finding herself at odds with some of the happenings in her own industry. Follow her on Twitter. Yes, you’re going to find some strange, off-the-wall comments… but you’ll also see updates here and there that give us a glimpse of her true self.

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posted August 16, 2010 at 1:10 am

I think the reason this story is so intriguing is because Katy was a Christian singer and then her cross over SMASH hit is “I kissed a girl and I liked it”. Classic “sell your soul to the devil” and make it big story.
She sold out, and she got fame. That’s the allure!

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posted August 25, 2010 at 1:21 am

What is with Joanne Brokaw? Is she naive, in love with katy perry or what? Saying that katy perry is respectful of her parents, and religious upbringing is like saying ice cream is hot. Words in an interview mean nothing Joanne. Her actions prove that she is very disrespectful of everything about the way she was brought up. Not every artist has to parade their body around, (latest album shes down to naked). Not every artist sings about kissing a girl and liking it, not every artist puts out an explicit lyrics album, where she’s talking about sex constantly and dropping the F bomb. So, I’m just wondering where is all the respect that you are talking about? I see a lot of rebellion in this girl. She has rejected everything her parents taught her and has chosen gaining the world and losing her soul.

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posted August 27, 2010 at 12:01 pm

Joanne is a fan! And Katy’s new album is really good.

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posted August 28, 2010 at 12:48 pm

Another thing here…regardless of her career, she never, ever denounces Jesus or her Christian faith. So I wonder how many of her young fans actually take an interest in Christianity because of Katy. They might not have any interest in Jesus at all, but then they hear Katy talk about it and see her Jesus tatoo and think, hey, Katy is cool, if it’s good enough for her I’ll have to check it out! It’s Lady GaGa who shows disrespect for Christians,and Katy had comments about that too. Also, even though some of her pictures are a little provacative, she has NEVER posed nude and said she NEVER would. That album cover can no way be considered dirty.

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posted November 1, 2010 at 7:19 pm

Just wanted to comment in reply to some of the others in here. I appreciated the comment from lynn, and I think she’s absolutely right. You’d have to widen the narrow way that the Lord in his Word takes pains to outline for us by quite a margin to include someone with Kate Perry’s lifestyle, so whether she has publicly denied Jesus or not really doesn’t even enter into the equation, Joe. Have some discernment. Pitty the “Christian” that is brought to “Christ” through that influence.

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Joe K.

posted November 15, 2010 at 6:52 am

Daniel- Good comment.

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posted January 1, 2011 at 1:50 pm

I think many people care because she is the posterchild for the new mindset of God being a choice. That said, I really do believe that all things are working towards God’s purpose in her life. She is in “I’m trying to find myself” mode. But the Word says,”Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.” As much as she would have this be “her life” it really isn’t. She speaks of having differences in her beliefs from her parents, the question isn’t one of beliefs. It’s about Lordship of the Living God in her life.
Without judging, I do wonder if she really has ever met the Lord. I just watched a video where she talks about how she realized that she had power when she sang. I’m a soloist at church and realize that there is power in being able to sing well. But here’s the kicker, it’s not about me. It’s about directing peoples attention to the one who gave me the gift, Jesus. The final decision to be made is who you will live for. Yourself, or Him. The Word is very specific about the choices we make. It also says that we aren’t perfect. I’m not going to condemn her, but I will pray for her. Both Jesus and Satan are very real. That is the truth of both the Word and is evidenced is our world by the presence of the Holy Ghost/Spirit and evil. I pray that she, and any others who haven’t come to salvation or have strayed, come to the point of “knowing” Jesus. Not knowing about Him or Christian beliefs. In faith, I will say that she will. And it will bring glory to the only One who deserves it. The King of Kings and Lord of Lords. And then I believe she can finally have the “abundant life.” Maybe she’ll bring some of her following, too! Praise the Lord!

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