Talking with Christians over the years, I’ve found that many people are content to listen to music that doesn’t project their biblical values because they claim Christian music just doesn’t compare—stylistically, rhythmically and qualitatively.
It’s an impression rooted in the awkward adolescent years of the industry, for sure. But things have changed.
You’d be surprised how many people have no idea what’s out there when it comes to Christian music—they still think the album selections and artists and styles have been frozen since 1994. So that’s why this column exists: to take the hot, chart-topping mainstream artists of the day and offer a valuable alternative.
Certainly, not everyone will always agree with my comparisons, and truth be told, we’re comparing apples and oranges. The artists mentioned in this column are artists in their own right, and they’re recognized because of their superior artistry. It’s my hope that through this, people discover new artists who will bring them closer to Jesus with positive messages.
Curious about a comparison? Want to ask me something in this vein? Shoot an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
COLDPLAY & THE CITY HARMONIC
There’s no question that Coldplay is one of the biggest rock bands in the world. Since the smash hit single “Yellow” hit airwaves from the band’s 2000 debut, Parachutes
, Chris Martin’s British quartet has had chart-topping song after chart-topping song.
Coldplay has released five studio albums, five EPs, 25 singles, two live albums and 27 music videos, and has sold more than 50 million albums worldwide--and that was prior to the November 2011 release of Mylo Xyoto
, the band’s current Billboard-topping fifth album.
With emotive guitars, driving pianos and Martin’s signature soaring tenor vocals, Coldplay is an incomparable hall of fame band.
Truth be told, Coldplay is one of the most benign bands in popular music. The band refrains from profanity, and song lyrics often point to matters of God and faith--although the wordplay is broad enough to let the listener apply his or her own interpretation.
As Plugged In’s Adam Holz states, Martin’s yearnings are “never really connected to anything. It’s got no discernable anchor that I can identify—like, say, God.”
If you’re looking for an anchored brand of epic post-Brit pop, look no further than the recently released album from Christian music newcomers The City Harmonic
It’s funny; the best-known song by the Canadian rockers, “Manifesto,”
is the least Coldplay-like from I Have A Dream (Feels Like Home)
. It’s a great song, no doubt, but the comparisons go beyond the current hit single.
Like Coldplay, The City Harmonic’s debut is driven by ambient guitars, soulful organs and pounding piano lines, as well as the polished and impassioned vocals of frontman Elias Dummer.
If you want a great idea what this album is about, check out this review
from NRT Staff Reviewer Kelly Sheads. But for our purposes, you’ll want to especially check out the following melodic and Brit-sounding tracks. (No, seriously. My worship pastor is British and he thought The City Harmonic was British. That’s a good sign.)
is a “Fix You”-like anthem that declares, “When we breathe in hope, breathe in grace, breathe in God… we’ll breathe out peace, we’ll breathe out justice, we’ll breathe out love.”
“You’re something real in a world of fake,” sings Dummer in the moody, echoing “Fell Apart.”
In “Wake Me Up,”
piano and guitar form an instrumental duet that accompanies an empassioned invitation for God to “wake me up to shine.”
“Holy (Wedding Day)”
speaks of the diving romance between God and humanity, relying heavily on piano and Dummer’s vocals to carry the story forward, building to a dramatic climax.
The album is worth more than just a casual listen, as the band has gone to great lengths to produce a record of exceptional songwriting, musicality and style. At a time when many albums are mass-produced and stylistically homogenized, The City Harmonic stands apart for their authenticity and art. (The band already has generated acclaim in their home country, garnering the "Best New Artist" award from the Canadian Gospel Music Association's Covenant Awards.)
...AND ALL THEIR FRIENDS
If you’re looking for some additional Coldplay alternatives, check these guys out:
The band broke up in 2009, and might have been one of the most underrated worship groups in Christian music. Lead singer Josh White has a lower resonance than the irreplaceable Chris Martin, but the British influence is undeniable. Check out all three of their albums, and enjoy songs like “Anchor My Soul”
and “Come to Me Quickly.”
Mat Kearney –
Take a listen to the Eugene, Ore. native, and the comparisons to Chris Martin will be obvious. Kearney has generated some good buzz in the mainstream, but is mostly known within Christian circles for his hits “Undeniable”
and “Nothing Left to Lose.”
His albums Nothing Left to Lose
and City of Black & White
are his most Coldplay-like (and most overtly Christian), while his latest effort, Young Love
is more beat-oriented musically, and more romance-oriented lyrically.