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Secular artists, current styles and worship music

We had Lincoln Brewster on campus last semester and during our lunch conversation, we got off on worship styles. I was asking him about trends he was seeing on the West Coast, and we talked about how worship music is impacted by music of our culture. We also discussed how we typically are stylistically behind the music of today. Then the conversation diverged to thinking: what worship songs would be like if Lady Gaga wrote them?

What would worship music be like if Chris Brown was a worship leader? Interesting to think about how our current musical trends may impact worship music in the future.

So, what do you think? Which secular artists might write the best worship music? Consider music, lyrics, or both. If I get enough responses, I will tell you a couple we agreed on.

18 comments to Secular artists, current styles and worship music

  • Kaitlynn Sinclair

    I think Eminem would be write great worship songs if he was not secular. I realize that this is a HUGE far-out there thought but hey so is Lady Gaga. I do not have any Eminem cd’s but I have heard some of his songs and some of them (if you take the NUMEROUS swear words out and vulgar sayings) have really powerful/ impacting lyrics like his song “Not Afraid.”

  • Jonathan George

    Secular music has definitely influenced me in the the way that i sing and play guitar, as well as others i am sure. Take U2 for instance. They have influenced the way we worship so much! Just by adding some Dotted 1/8th notes, as was/is popular with The Edge’s guitar riffs, really influenced a lot of Hillsong and other various worship bands. Coldplay’s vary open and big style of music also has influenced the way we view worship by creating an environment thus introducing different lighting and visual effects to help aid the over all “experience”. Now these may be the most obvious examples but the fact is that everyone or a whole bunch of people have been influenced by these bands and i have a feeling that it is only the beginning for new and creative ways on how worship is done.

    These reasons are also examples on why i think these bands would make great worship leaders if they decided to give everything up for Christ.

  • Sara Austin

    I believe Regina Spektor could make great worship music, she has very meaningful songs. One of my favorites of hers is “Laughing With God”. It really makes you think!

  • Wes Morgan

    I think it would be really interesting to see what the Glee Cast could come up with for a revamping of our worship music. They do a great job of remaking songs to sound different than what we are used to hearing.

  • Nick Turner

    I believe that U2 has a huge influence on the musical style of modern worship bands. Also, they would really write some great worship songs! Some of their songs already have a “Christian” feel to them. I realize that Bono claims to be a Christian, but I’d still classify them as a secular/maintstream band.

  • I totally agree..secular music is what reaches unbelievers: if you can play secular music but have an awesome testimony you are able to reach a whole different crowd of people…which is a really cool ministry…

    Anyhow I think it would be really cool to see Imogen Heap do worship music. She takes a totally different approach to music than anyone else I’ve ever heard, and It would be really cool to see some worship music come out of that…
    I’d also like to see some Progressive worship music…Maybe like Dream Theater or something: worship music tends to be technically very simple and It would be awesome to see some musically challenging worship stuff…

    really though I’d rather see those artists become christians and use their music to reach the audience they already have…

  • Some interesting thoughts and some interesting music that I need to check out. We were thinking John Mayer and Coldplay would be good worship song writers.

  • Isaac Murrell

    I am in total agreement that worship music has been shaped buy our culture. I also think that we have a great opportunity and responsibility to reach our current culture and meet them where they are at musically. This means that a worship artist might need to get outside their comfort zone and produce a different style of music with the Gospel message and truth at the center. The David Crowder Band executed this recently with their Church Music album on purpose to reach our current “pop hungry culture”. All the songs included synthesizers and other pop sounds along with great dance beats in order to attract unsaved people and catch their ear and then present the Gospel. In transition, I believe that Lifehouse is currently producing great songs with very deep lyrics that can even be taken as borderline worship songs. Though they are established in mainstream, I know that the singer grew up leading youth group at his church in California, (not to mention he is a native of Washington State!). I know they would make great music with very deep and thought provoking lyrics if they converted to the worship music setting.

    I totally agree with the John Mayer and Coldplay ideas…these were some of the first that came to my mind. 🙂

  • Roger

    Thanks Isaac!

  • Jordan Redfield

    I agree with most of the already mentioned artists. I also think The Fray, Snow Patrol, The Script and Holly Brook would all write interesting worship songs.
    Another thought I got stuck on: If these secular artists were to become our worship songwriters, what would change more? Their current style of music, or current worship music? I personally feel like there’d be some of both;a worship song by any of these artists would not have the exact same style as what they’re already written, but they’re influence would still be evident.

  • Hannah Johnson

    I strongly think that if Lady GaGa was not a secular artist she would be a very influential artist in the Christian music industry. She is very passionate about what she believes and she lets everyone know it. It comes out through her lyrics, her words, and even her clothing. It would be amazing to see what she could be and what she could accomplish if she was a Christian artist leading worship

  • Sam DeLoye

    In my opinion, the best worship music is filled with passion and strong emotion. The worship leaders that I like to worship with the most have great emotion as they lead. It is very clear that their relationship with Jesus Christ affects every aspect of their life, especially how they lead. Moreover, when these types of worship leaders write music, it is filled with passion as it reflects how they feel about Jesus Christ and His saving grace.
    I am not very well versed in the popular music scene, but I think that the secular artists who convey passion and emotion in their performances would be the best worship leaders. Therefore, I do not think that the most popular and famous secular artists would necessarily write the best worship songs; the popular, frivolous, techno music would not translate very well into the worship world because it lacks depth and coherence. Even within the Christian music realm, the ‘popular’ music is not the best worship music. Many of my favorite worship songs are not written by the top Christian artists.
    I have been on an oldies kick lately, so two artists that I think convey incredible emotion and passion when they perform and write are John Lennon and Elton John. Though I completely disagree with their worldviews and perspectives on life, they have written some great music. I believe that if they were Christians, they would write (or would have written) some outstanding worship music.

  • Roger


    You raise a good point: what would change the most–their style or the worship music style. I would venture to guess that the worship style would change the most. Worship music style has not really changed much since the 80’s, from instrumentation to harmonic language. I think that “our” worship style would likely be ripe for some change.

    However, some things that pop artists do from production to processed sounds can’t be easily done with a group of volunteers in a local church context. So, likely there would be some impact, but also some give and take.

  • Roger

    The word that resounds with Hannah and Sam’s comments is the word “passion”. I do get concerned that we as worship leaders don’t have (or at least communicate) our passion. If the God of the universe who sent his Son to die for our sins, rose again from the grave to conquer death, and indwells us and empowers us by his Holy Spirit, we should be the most passionate people on the planet.

    I used a quote in class 2 weeks ago “If people don’t know your passion, you don’t have any!” Good reminder.

  • Ashley Auch

    I definitely agree with what people have been saying about the necessity of “passion” in worship leading. If we’re not excited about Jesus, how can we expect others to be? If she was a Christian artist I do agree that Lady Gaga would be quite effective because of her determination when it comes to who she is. Music style wise, I would love to see what Michael Buble would come up with as a Christian artist. It would definitely be different than what we’re used to! I also agree that Regina Spektor would be good at this because of how unique each individual song is; they don’t all sound the same. I think we need to be careful of this in our song choice. We should constantly be thinking of new creative ways to worship God because He is creative and we’re made in His image!

  • Jason Carnegis

    I totally agree with the fact that worship music (and Christian contemporary music for that matter) have been influenced by the current popular music of today. I think it is the result of Christian musicians being open to all kinds of music instead of only listening to Christian music, which is a good thing. There is plenty of good music out there that isn’t immoral or harmful for a Christian to listen to that is written by a secular artist. One of the bands I would’ve chosen would be Coldplay because of their talent and success but also because of their powerful lyrics. I think they would be great at writing worship songs. A couple other bands I could see being great worship songwriters would be Onerepublic and The Fray. They are two similar bands that have great music and lyrics too. I think that if they were to become Christian bands today, they would have a sudden impact on the Christian music culture.

  • Caleb Gordon

    I believe that in order to lead someone in worship, they must also know how to worship. Its like a travel guide, you cannot lead someone a place you have never been.
    I do agree with the above comment about Bono though. If I were going to choose anyone it would be the bands that are claiming to be Christian and have wholesome lyrics for the most part.
    But in order to be true worship it needs to be for God, empowered by God.

  • Joshua Staley

    I think angels and airwaves would write some sick instrumental versions worship songs. I would argue that worship music has especially the way guitar players are playing modern worship music is effecting secular music. Christian guitar players may have developed alot off The Edge’s style but the fact that we have taken it and made it widelypopular again has in my opinion caused secular music to begin to use the more ambient delay infused style. For example Linkin parks last album has many subtle refrences to modern worship music same with coldplay’s new album. We do have some influence. I think we are influenced but we admit it secular music would never admit to be influenced by Hillsong.