The Song Remains The Same…
As most of you know, I am a featured reviewer on All Aaboutworship and a frequent contributer to The Worship Community. So to say that I get to listen to a lot of worship is not an exageration. In the past few months I have done reviews on about a dozen new worship albums, some of which are out and available, and some which are due out in the next month or so. However there is something that I have noted, and I am not sure I like. Throughout many different churches, worship teams, and bands, the song remains the same. (Yes I am aware this is a Led Zepplin reference, I am a fan.)
I say this because in modern worship there are primarily two styles of worship. First is the Passion style, this is guys like Tomlin, Redman, Crowder, Hall, etc… Now there are differences, but for the most part they all have a similar sound, and could easily play each other’s songs with little modification.
The second style is the style of Hillsong/United/Jesus Culture. They are different groups, but they all share a common style between them. This is why on several of Jesus Culture’s early releases before their songwriting really began to flow, they covered several songs from United.
If we are being honest with ourselves, we know that these are the biggest groups in worship today. I am not saying that any of these are bad groups, or that their worship is not good. Quite the opposite, I usually enjoy all of them. However, what I have noticed is that many of the Churches who are starting to develop their own worship ministries and recording albums are emulating those styles.
I listened to a new CD recently and going song by song I could connect the main melody riff or piano line to a song from Jesus Culture and or Hillsong. The truth is there wasn’t a bad song on the album, but in the end I was left with a feeling that I had heard it all before instead of that wonder and awe of something that is new and fresh in my ears.
I am not Chris Tomlin, nor Matt Redman, nor Phil Wickham, yet I use their music in my church services. For me, the song writing engine in my heart hasn’t kicked into full gear yet. however, when I play them, I am not trying to replicate a song on a CD, but to cultivate an atmosphere of worship in my congregation.
I am seeking to have my own CD one day, but I don’t want people to be able to listen to it and hear someone else in their head. Obviously there will be influences in my style because its natural to hear others and try to learn things they do well. However at the same time I want to have a style that is mine. Something that when you hear it, you think of me.
What about you? I am asking worship leaders, recording artists, and musicians this simple question:
How do we really stay creative in a saturated music market?
Please feel free to share thought and opinions. Also if you have a CD, or songs online or on youtube, please link them I would love to see other people’s work.