And, if you’re anything like me, your teens and early twenties were awash with Christian pop and rock ballads. You were in roughly 3-4 worship bands and praise ensembles. And the first time you heard Unconditionally on the radio you were 100% sure someone had switched your presets to K-Love.
The synthesized chord progression. The “real you on the inside” schmaltzy lyrics. The several syllable word stretched into an entire chorus. It smacks of CCM (that’s Contemporary Christian Music for those of you not raised with your own Zondervan NIV) and Sparrow Records. MAYBE Tooth&Nail Records. Nah. Not edgy enough for Tooth&Nail.
It’s ok to like this song, it is. It’s catchy. Got a nice little hook. A positive message. But if you have ever heard (or had to sing for offertory) any of these, you can’t help but be gobsmacked at how churchy it sounds.
Exhibit A: Nichole Nordeman’s Beautiful for Me
Let’s not even talk about how cute it is that this song was written for a Veggie Tales movie. Nichole Nordeman wrote some of my favorite songs 15 years ago. And she does an awesome Peter Gabriel cover of In Your Eyes. This song, however? Could totes be Katy.
Exhibit B: Avalon’s Adonai
Somewhere out there in the internet there are videos of me and Bekah (separately) singing this song. Don’t look for them. I was most likely wearing wide-leg, jersey knit, khaki cargo pants. There are lots of vids of this song, but I picked the original album cover because that’s Retro Avalon with the original members (JODY!!!) and they are the only ones I accept, questionable sexuality and everything.
Exhibit C: Every Natalie Grant song ever
I love love love Natalie Grant’s voice. It’s better than 90% of country and 99% of pop singers recording now. She’s also super sweet and totally gorgeous. But yeah. Katy Hudson sang this song one too many times for Sunday night prayer service and it eeked its way in Unconditionally.
(Is that old guy with the long hair and the umbrella supposed to be God? I don’t know, but I am not comforted by his sudden appearance.)
Exhibit D: Rebecca St. James’ Wait for Me
I can’t even with this song. If Stephenie Meyer’s books had a theme song, it wouldn’t be Paramore or Muse. It would be this testament to future spouse love and second virginity. I still remember the poor 15 year old girl who sang this at our church’s True Love Waits weekend and missed that modulation. Terrible.
(And if you don’t listen to any of the rest of these videos, at least watch this one because it’s hilarious to watch her fantasy future husband open a music box with her dancing in it.)
Exhibit E: Jaci Velasquez’ On My Knees
If Rebecca St. James’ abstinence mantra had an unwitting nemesis, it was this inadvertent tribute to premarital oral. Yes, this song was SUPPOSED to be about prayer, but not a single person (young or old) can keep from snickering every time some very serious twenty-something in a too-big blazer opens her mouth wide to sing “I get on my knees.” It’s a classic.
“I don’t know how, bu there’s power when I’m on my knees.” Oh, Jaci. I think I read that in a Tiffany Reisz book. I know it was in some BDSM Twific. But you had it first. Kudos.
There are so many more, but you get the gist. Katy, you can’t hide your roots. I mean, you CAN with like blue plastic wigs and stuff, and songs about fake lesbianism (you should talk to Jennifer Knapp!), but back in the day you loved Nicole C. Mullen and Barlow Girl. It’s ok. We did too. Pretty sure there are Worship Programmers out there right now working this into their November set list. They love a good secular “crossover.” Good job making them forget I Kissed a Girl.
Do you have embarrassing YouTube videos of church music out there or is it just me? Anyone else get a Charlotte Gainsbourg/Blake Lively vibe from the chick in that video?