Think about your favorite band for a minute.
The artist that's impacted your life more than any other. The one you put on repeat when it's been a hard day and you need comfort. The one that you have vowed to support for the rest of their career because their music once met you where you were and changed everything for you.
Yes, THAT one.
Now, imagine with me that someone goes on social media and begins to bash that band–solely because they don't like the music they create.
As a staff reviewer and writer for NewReleaseToday, I often get to offer my opinion on music from some of my very favorite artists–the ones like I described above, were there for me with lyrics that kept me going when life was at its hardest. It's always such a joy to do and to tell the world why they should listen to the same artists that mean so much to me.
Likewise, part of being a staff reviewer and writer for NewReleaseToday means sometimes needing to offer an opinion on music from bands that aren't my favorite. It's then that I am presented with a choice–much like you, the listener and fan.
Will I choose to bash the music and the artist because they aren't my style, to invalidate all their hard work solely because it's not what I personally like? Or will I choose to look beyond myself and see the bigger picture?
For me, that bigger picture is the reminder that it's not just a song, not just three minutes of music–it's something that someone believed in enough to pour hours upon hours of blood, sweat, and tears into. It's the product of someone's passion, the result of someone being brave enough to vulnerably share a piece of their heart with the world. Who am I to devalue that by saying that it doesn't matter because I didn't like it?
Beyond that, I've seen too much to naively believe that music is just sound waves. I believe, because I have experienced it in my life and in the lives of those close to me, that music has the power to change, impact and save lives. Music has the unique gift of meeting us where we are–often in the midst of hardship, loneliness and pain–and speaking to us in a way nothing else could.
My guess is, if you're here reading this, you love music. You have a favorite artist. You have one of those stories that bring tears to my eyes–the one where you were driving home from the doctor's appointment where you were handed that life-altering diagnosis and a song came on the radio that made you pull over and weep because it brought the comfort you needed at that moment. The one where you were down to nothing and ready to give up on life, but you turned on the radio one last time and heard a song that reminded you of hope and made you choose to stay and fight. The one where you were walking through that divorce or that breakup or that death of a loved one and you found a song that became an anchor for your soul in a time where everything else felt unstable. The one where you walked into church on a day when God seemed so far away, then the worship team played a song that invited you to feel His presence again.
My story like that began a decade ago with a Jeremy Camp song. Jeremy Camp isn't everyone's favorite artist though–and that's okay.
I have friends who wouldn't be alive today without the ministry and music of Skillet. Skillet isn't my favorite band though–and that's okay.
At the heart of it, it's about the people these songs are impacting and the way that God is using ALL of it to grow His kingdom.
When I hear a song or a band that isn't my favorite, instead of tearing them down because they aren't what I like, or choosing to remind everyone why their latest release isn't their best, I choose to remember that they are impacting someone. That artist means to someone else what Jeremy Camp means to me, and that song is being used in their life like "There Will Be A Day" was used in mine.
Jeremy Camp will reach an audience with his music that Skillet never will, and vice versa, and THAT'S OKAY. That's what makes the Christian music industry such a beautiful thing–there are so many different genres and sounds and styles to choose from. You can have your favorites and someone else can have theirs. Neither matter more than the other, neither are higher in value than the other. It may not be your favorite, but it's someone's favorite. And isn't that what matters? That it's serving someone and reaching someone and connecting with someone?
There's the age-old idea that if you have nothing nice to say, you should just say nothing at all. Scripture seems to back this up in a lot of ways. Use less words. Speak affirmations. Encourage others. I'm in favor of all that here, that If you don't like a band or a song, you don't have to say anything about it, and you certainly don't have to tear it down on a public platform to make your critique known. You can choose to speak up for what you like and to allow others to do the same without telling them all the reasons you don't like that thing.
But beyond that, I challenge you to think deeper. Next time you hear a song you don't like and you're tempted to write it off as a waste of air time, I challenge you to think about the person who will be impacted by it. I challenge you to think about all the passion and hard work the artist put into it. Even though it's not your favorite, I challenge you to remember that it may be the song that's getting someone else through the night. Better yet, who in your life could you share the song with that could be an encouragement for where they are at?
Isn't that what we all long for, after all–a world where we respect one another's opinions and values even if we don't share them? A world where I choose to say that something matters, not because it's had a direct impact on me, but simply because it matters to someone else?
It may seem small, but I think music is a great place to start.
Caitlin Lassiter is a worship leader, songwriter and journalist with a deep passion for Christian music. She currently resides in Nashville, Tennessee, where she attends Trevecca Nazarene University and can frequently be found loving life at a concert.