Christian music has much to offer these days, and it’s not just worship songs for Sunday morning. This column helps people discover new Christian music by comparing the industry’s best talent with the chart-topping mainstream artists of the day. Music drives us in so many ways, and the messages we hear are important.
Certainly, not everyone will always agree with my comparisons, and truth be told, we’re comparing apples and oranges. The bands and soloists 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 email@example.com
RIHANNA & BECKAH SHAE
Robyn Rihanna Fenty—known simply as Rihanna—has sold more than 20 million albums and 60 million singles, making her one of the best selling artists of all time. The Barbadian singer is the youngest artist in Billboard charts history to achieve 11 No. 1 singles on the Hot 100, and is burning up the airwaves again with her latest single, “We Found Love,” the first song released from her forthcoming sixth studio album, Talk That Talk
Known for her hit songs “Umbrella”, “S.O.S.”, “Disturbia”, “Rude Boy”, “Pon de Replay”, and “S&M,” Rihanna’s R&B/Caribbean fusion has catchy hooks, silky vocals and, unfortunately, disturbing lyrical (and music video) imagery. Her recurring themes of violence, sex, drugs and bondage not only captivate the airwaves, but even our childrens’ ears—the sadomasochistic “Love the Way You Lie” has found its way onto a “Kids Bop” children’s sing-along album. There are some people out there who charge that Rihanna’s music even has demonic references.
“But the music’s so good!” you protest. Fortunately, the “good girl gone bad” doesn’t have a complete monopoly on the dance friendly, vocally appealing pop/R&B market. Enter Beckah Shae
Beckah Shae made a splash in the Christian music world with the release of her fourth independent album, Life
, which featured the hit songs “Here in this Moment”
Listeners immediately were struck by the musical excellence and cultural relevance of Beckah’s beats and vocals, juxtaposed with uncompromising messages of hope, salvation and grace.
Just like Rihanna, Beckah Shae has made her rounds contributing to other artists’ projects. She’s appeared on Jonny Lang’s Turn Around
album, tobyMac’s Tonight
, and most recently on Montell Jordan’s newest album with Victory World Outreach, Shake Heaven
One of the best albums of 2011 in Christian music is Destiny
—a smart, innovative, fun and legitimate album that rivals many of today’s Top 40 influences.
“I’ve spent time researching the artists and lyrics to the songs topping the charts, because I’m interested in what is being released and received by this generation; and I found myself feeling physically sick afterward,” reveals Shae. “What one generation tolerates, the next embraces, and I will not be held accountable for being silent about the things that I know are offensive and harmful not only to God but also to my children.”
It sounds cliché to say the entire Destiny
album is worth a listen, but it truly is. If you’re looking for instant Rihanna-like sounds, check out the Caribbean-influenced “Show Me”
—a song about standing firm for Jesus in the midst of ever-darkening times—and the rallying call “For Such a Time as This.”
Other exceptionally danceable tracks include “Supernova,”
which invites people to shine brighter than galaxies with the light of Christ, and “We Are”
which declares: “We are the revolution; this is a love revolution.”
Instead of focusing on tainted love, as Rihanna does in "We Found Love," Shae focuses on restoring God-borne love in "#putyourloveglasseson."
Pounding bass drums, ambient synths and pure, passionate vocals abound.
Rather than be mired in the dark sounds of violence, broken relationships, sex and moral ambiguity, Beckah Shae offers an encouraging, inspiring and sonically excellent experience in Destiny
. For people who “just like the beat,” this is a fantastic way of trading sickening themes for the truth of Jesus Christ.
"Ignorance ain't bliss when you're standing in the fire,"
Shae sings in the most Rihanna-like "Show Me," just after singing: "So watch what you're watching, hear what you're hearing, do what you're doing and know what you're consuming, too."
Fortunately, her music gives us a sound option.
MORE SOUND OPTIONS...