Christian music topping the charts?

Recently there have been a number of Facebook campaigns aiming to get Christian music to the top of the charts. This got me thinking a bit about music charts, what makes music good and the wisdom of jumping on the Facebook campaign bandwagon.

Why do we have music charts?

Music charts list top-selling singles, albums or artists. The point of having them is to provide information on which singles, albums or artists are currently selling well. They give an indication to individuals what music they might want to listen to or buy, radio stations what to play and music stores what to stock. This means that music charts are most useful when they feature lots of good music.

What then is good music?

In his little book Art and the Bible, Francis Schaeffer lists four criteria for judging art (i.e. art in general, not just ‘high art’). I’ve found them very helpful, so I’ll reproduce them here in an abbreviated and slightly modified form.

  1. Technical excellence — Is it technically good music? Are the lyrics well written?
  2. Validity — Is the artist being true to their worldview or are they only producing music for money or for the sake of being accepted?
  3. Intellectual content (the worldview which comes through) — How does the worldview that is communicated by the artist’s body of work match up to Scripture?
  4. Integration of content and vehicle — Does the style of music match the content?

These are the standards by which we should measure music or an artist.

One of the implications of this is that music isn’t good just because it is by an artist who is a Christian. Neither is it good just because it has Christian lyrics. This doesn’t mean that music by a Christian artist or songs that have Christian lyrics are always bad, just that they shouldn’t be judged on that basis alone as it ignores the other aspects of the work.

So what?

Where does this leave us? I want to suggest that to make music charts most effective in achieving the purpose for which they were made, we should make it our aim to buy good music. If any song makes it to the top of the charts, it should get there on its own steam — simply because it is good.

If you are a Christian reading this, instead of using your money, time and effort in getting music that you wouldn’t otherwise have bought to the top of the charts, why not invest it in living a life that is a work of art?

Jul08

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