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No Cover — A Cynical Look at Christian Cover Songs

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Every time I turn on the radio it seems like I hear another Christian artist covering a secular song from the past. I really don’t understand the fascination.

Don’t get me wrong! It’s not that I’m against cover songs. Most bands play covers in their live sets. And there’s a lot of great music out there to play. But, “Send Me an Angel”? Give me a break! And you know what? That song isn’t even about angels. It’s about girls or something. And remember the infamous Pat Boone heavy metal experiment…well, I guess you can’t fault a guy for having a sense of humor, but “Crazy Train”?! That’s just wrong, man.

Quite simply, this kind of music bastardization has got to stop. So, as a first step in remedying this problem, I came up with 10 secular artists that I believe should not be covered by Christian bands under any circumstances—ever! Here they are in no particular order.

  1. Limp Bizkit, Linkin Park, Korn, etc.—Upon further examination, these are all the same band, and that band is terrible, and nobody in the band can spell.
  2. Nirvana—The most overrated band of the past 20 years. There, I said it. I’ll stand by it, too. Plus, life’s too short to listen to songs about being unhappy. It’s the poetry of pain and it brings me down.
  3. Ozzy Osbourne—You’re just asking to be thrown under a bus if you cover this guy (see Pat Boone). What’s with all the crosses? By the way, Ozzy could never be a CCM artist, he can’t over-enunciate his lyrics.
  4. Madonna—Her music is inappropriate on so many levels. And it’s fascinating that her fan base is mostly 40-something women and not 12-year-old boys.
  5. Evanescence—There are too may Christian rock bands out there who sound like this band. Why do people try to label them as Christian? Are they?
  6. U2—Please, please, please don’t ever cover U2. Their songs are perfect the way they are. But if you must, please don’t try to sound like them. You can’t do it right and no one will enjoy listening to it. Trick it up. Make it your own. And don’t try to sound like The Edge. Sorry, this is as objective as I can be about U2. You should have heard what I wanted to write.
  7. Eminem—I don’t get this guy and his act has already been done by people who can sing and play their own instruments—at the same time!
  8. Jessica Simpson—There is no reason for any of this young lady’s music to be heard anywhere or by anyone.
  9. Kid Rock—This guy doesn’t know it but he would make a great 80s Christian artist. He makes his living sounding like a knock-off of artists from the past.
  10. System of a Down—What do you like better, their worship or their praise?
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About Joe Battista

  • Tan Hoang

    Britney Spears should be on this list too.

  • James

    There is no reason to listen to Xn music, ever! How can people listen to that crap without vomiting after 10 minutes of it? if not sooner?

  • Mat Brewster

    I don’t get it. Are these bands that Christian musicians shouldn’t cover, or that no one should cover? By your descriptions you don’t seem to like the bands in question, but I don’t see the connection with christian music.

  • DhammaSeeker

    Evanescence IS NOT a Christian band. And item 8 should be “Jessica Simpson”, not “Jennifer”, but the admonishment still applies.

  • Vern Halen

    They’re covering secular material because, I hate to say it, most Christian music is poorly written. Nothing against Christians or music, but the approach to the subject matter is very narrow, and so there aren’t many great songs developed. But listen to U2’s cover of Woody Guthrie’s Jesus Christ – the song & the performance are brilliant, and just make you wanna stand up and Hallaleujah!!!

    If only all Christian music sounded so spiritual.

  • Mark Saleski

    i’ve said this before around here somewhere, but folk singer Greg Brown characterizes modern christian music as “Praise the Lord, Let’s Go To The Mall!”.

    …which seems just about right.

  • The Proprietor

    Occasionally, Christian artists do fantastic covers that are well worth listening to. Specific examples include Phil Keaggy’s brilliant cover of Badfinger’s “Baby Blue”, his in-concert staples “Here Comes The Sun” and “Blackbird”, and Keaggy’s collaborations with Neal Morse on the bonus disc of “One”, including another terrific Badfinger cover (“Day After Day”), George Harrison (“What Is Life”), The Who (“Sparks”) and yes, U2 (“Where The Streets Have No Name”). Morse also did an entire Beatles cover set after his religious awakening (“Yellow Matter Custard”).

  • Phillip Winn

    Phil Keaggy is the except to nearly every rule.

  • Henry Porter
  • Vern Halen

    Yeah, I guess Phil Keaggy is living proof that being a good musician doesn’t mean you’ve got to sell your soul to the debbil.

  • Pdiddy

    you’re an idiot.

  • Phillip Winn

    Wow, someone has just been called an idiot by a person whose idea of a good online moniker is the nursery-school nickname of a man more famous for the people with whom he has been romantically linked than any actual musical accomplishments, but not even punctuated correctly!

    Someone got told!

  • Adam

    I just want to know, why the specific attack at christian cover songs. It’s almost a rule of the music industry that cover songs are going to suck, they don’t have to be christian to do so. take Limp Bizkits cover of Behind Blue Eyes, quite possibly the worst cover ever. For one thing it totally missed the message behind the song, and it cut out the part of the song where it picks up (on the lyric “if i swallow anything evil…”) and instead turned a fantastic song from one of the greatest bands in rock history into 3 minutes of wrist-slitting crap. Or Out of Your Mouth’s cover of Music in which the lead singer expertly manages to make every single lyric in the song sound exactly the same as the next (not that the original song was that good anyway). A Pefect Circle’s Imagine, any one of the million covers of Wonderwall, Samiam’s cover of Here Comes your Man. Cover’s will suck no matter, you don’t have to be a christian to make a song sucks, but apparently if you can start a blog topic of that matter you’re an expert on was makes music acceptable. Perhaps if Christian music is so repulsively vomit enducing to you, you should make an executive decision when the song comes on the radio: turn it off. The bands aren’t forcing you to listen to their music.

  • Joe Battista

    If you’re really interested, the article was meant as a joke. Most people got it.

    By the way, there’s a pretty good cover of America’s “Lonely People” on the latest Jars of Clay album.

  • Rodney Welch

    What about secular artists covering Christian music — like the Byrds on Sweetheart of the Rodeo singing the old Louvin Brothers chestnut “The Christian Life”? which was before Roger McGuinn became an evangelical Christian, by the way.

    I didn’t know Christian recording artists wrere into secular covers, although it doesn’t surprise me — as has been stated, most Christian rock tends not to be very good rock, unfortunately. It’s pretty much always been that way — even Keaggy’s stuff tends toward the corny and sentimental.

    Ever heard of Larry Norman? Now there was a guy who could straddle both worlds. He had this record about 25 years or so ago called Only Visiting This Planet that was unashamedly devout and which rocked pretty gracefully as well.

    I’m sure there have been others, but if I want Christian music I’ll listen to pure twangy gospel — which is not trying to be anything other than what it is.

  • http://Jim Jim Sawyer

    yeah, ummm Joe. This article really is a joke. Youre ideals of a good cover song are a joke. hahaha. I got it, buddy. Good one.

  • michael n. ferry

    whether it’s a joke or not, doing a cover has it pros and cons,
    if ever “christian bands” will cover a song composed or done by “non christians” the reason would fall to any or some of the following reasons:

    1. they like the song so they will do their own rendition;
    2. they like the song but they loathe the way it was performed so they’re gonna fix it in a way they think it’s better;
    3. they’re using the song as if a bait, a magnet or something to attract people and later on introduce their own “spiritual thing”;
    4. they treated music (regardless of their label) as a gift entrusted by the Creator to the stewards who will use it wisely in a right place, and in a right time with a right motive or objectives;
    5. they’re going to sing the song because they have already “redeemed it” or “brought it back”;
    6. they are going to sing a song to emphasize a certain part of the lyrics, or to sahre the story behind of it with some kind of lesson to be learned or to honor the composer, writer, lyricist

  • Jeremy

    I’m not a fan of Christian covers of secular songs. Not one bit. The original song was written with a particular meaning in mind, and regardless of the cover band’s interpretation, the original meaning of the song will always remain intact. So, to all the bands and artists I enjoy listening to: sorry, I’m deleting the songs you’ve covered out of my iTunes. Be original, or at the very least, perform music that truly and originally glorifies God.

  • Crystal

    Please. There are many good independent Christian artists. Many of which are alternative and like industrial, punk, metal, gothic, etc. For instance, take the band Flyleaf. Amazing band, beautiful, creative lyrics which sound wayyy better than Evanescence. Or the band, Plumb. Her music is amazing and she has actually WRITTEN songs for secular artists such as Mandy Moore, Michelle Branch, and others. Evanescence actually quoted Plumb as one of their inspirations. So, not all Christian music sucks.

  • Jon S.

    There are the rare good Christian bands who have a unique sound that they develop out of passion for music, but the majority try to sound like big-name mainstream bands…and fail. I grew up listening to Christian bands only because that’s what my parents desired. Now that I’m on my own, I’ve began expanding my library to mainstream and indie music, and I realized that while I was listening to only Christian bands, I stopped listening to the lyrics. The lyrics were usually cheesy cliches that no one can really connect to. Now I’m trying to train myself to listen to the words again as I’m finding a lot of wisdom and truth in the mainstream and indie bands. There are still a lot of non-Christian bands that also try to mimic big-name bands, and those are the ones that are equally reproachable as the Christian bands. My biggest challenge to everyone is to start listening to the lyrics and really figuring out what they’re saying: is it something meaningful or something to rake in some cash?