Is your idea of a good time sitting around with your friends, debating your all-time favorite Christian Contemporary songs? Me neither. However, when I came across the new book, “100 Greatest Songs In Christian Music: The Stories Behind the Music That Changed Our Lives Forever,” by CCM Magazine, I must admit, I was intrigued.
The book, which includes interesting profiles and short facts about the songs (chosen by Christian music executives and 2,500 Christian music fans) and the artists who popularized them, as well as cool sidebar lists such as “Songs About the End,” “Quiet Little Songs That Pack a Punch,” and “15 Incredible Songs You May Never Have Heard Of,” was both entertaining and informative and would make a great primer for someone just getting into Christian music–or for someone like me, who knows about the new stuff, but not so much about the old.
Some predictable, yet deeply deserved, picks made it to the list, most likely due to the songs’ success in the mainstream market, ie: “Alive,” by POD (#76), “Flood,” by Jars of Clay (#7), “I Can Only Imagine,” by MercyMe (#4), and “Dare You to Move,” by Switchfoot (#50). And, of course, CCM greats, Amy Grant, Michael W. Smith, Sandi Patti, and Steven Curtis Chapman had a number of their hit songs in the book, as did big names from all facets of Christian music, ranging from pop, rock, hip-hop, inspirational, and more.
One of the more surprising picks I came across was the single “To Hell With the Devil,” (off the album of the same name) by the band Stryper, whose name is an acronym which stands for Salvation Through Redemption Yielding Peace, Encouragement, and Righteousnes. Stryper was the first group to popularize the Christian metal genre and looked like most of the typical 80s metal bands–high hairsprayed hair, tight spandex stage outfits (theirs was yellow and black), makeup, and a high-pitched, screaming lead singer (Michael Sweet).
Although “To Hell With the Devil” is still revered by fans of Christian (and secular) metal as a classic, I didn’t think CCM Magazine would be so cool as to give such high recognition to not only Stryper, but to Christian metal in general. It seems the harder the music–no matter what its message–the higher the likelihood that religious conservatives are going to label the music as Satanic, which is, of course, what happened with Stryper. It’s good to know CCM Magazine turned a deaf ear to such nonsense.
Besides, you’ve really got to love a band that, along with drumsticks and guitar picks, tosses Bibles into the hands of their head-banging audience.
So what Christian songs would be at the top of your “100 Greatest” list?