Culture

The Music

Culture | The Top 5 Contemporary Christian CDs for the week ending Oct. 15, according to SoundScan

Issue: "President Bush?," Nov. 18, 2000
1
Long Line of Leavers
Caedmon's Call
STYLE
If the pleasant, mellow music of middle-aged rock stars is "adult contemporary" these days, then the music of Caedmon's Call must be "young-adult contemporary."

BEST CUTS
"Ballad of San Francisco"

BEST LYRIC
"I love anonymity and I love being noticed, / just the same as anybody else."

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OVERVIEW
Caedmon (ca. 670) was an illiterate herdsman whose miraculous transformation into a great Christian poet occurred overnight; Caedmon's Call is a Houston-based septet whose transformation into a great Christian band is occurring somewhat more gradually.

2
Crystal Clear
Jaci Velasquez
STYLE
Lush, all-stops-out pop, not unlike a blend of Madonna and Gloria Estefan (although neither was making recordings this musically sophisticated at Miss Velasquez's age: 21).

BEST CUTS
"Adore," "You Don't Miss a Thing," "Escuchame"

BEST LYRIC
None that are striking, but at least the clichés are true to life (i.e., "When I think You've finally given up, / You fill my heart with unconditional love").

OVERVIEW
Consistently enjoyable, vastly preferable to the latest by Britney Spears.

3
Loud and Clear
OC Supertones
STYLE
The punchy blend of Jamaican ska and skateboard-culture punk known as "ska-core."

BEST CUTS
"Wilderness," "Forward to the Future," "Another Show"

BEST LYRIC
"Tell me who will listen to uneducated congregants, / and why should they when all we have to say is / bumper-sticker doctrine and cute catch phrases?"

OVERVIEW
The horns, although catchy, are a gimmick; the lyrics, although clever, stand out the most when they allude to C.S. Lewis or paraphrase Francis Schaeffer.

4
Glo
Delirious?
STYLE
Openly worshipful, rousingly reverberant Euro-rock, with Martin Smith's vocals and Stuart Garrard's guitars a dead ringer for those of U2's Bono and the Edge, respectively.

BEST CUTS
"God You Are My God," "God's Romance"

BEST LYRIC
"People all across the world / with a heartbeat for holiness / feel His pleasure."

OVERVIEW
The praise that England's Q magazine heaped on the group's Mezzamorphis album ("Something of a rarity, this ... the Christianity is forceful rather than force-fed") holds true for this album too.

5
The Promise
Plus One
STYLE
CCM's version of 'N Sync and the Backstreet Boys.

BEST CUTS
"God Is in This Place"

BEST LYRIC
None worth quoting, but this "Plus One Fact," from the group's website, is definitely an attention-getter: "One of Plus One's first performances was singing 'America the Beautiful' at an event for Vice President Al Gore."

OVERVIEW
Proof of CCM's continuing willingness to board any bandwagon hitched to a gravy train.

IN THE SPOTLIGHT
Whether solo or with his brothers, Aaron Neville has never made a bad album. It should come as no surprise, then, that Devotion (EMI Gospel/Tell It), his long-awaited gospel collection, adheres to high standards. One might question the song selection-a couple of overfamiliar schmaltz classics, fine, but "Bridge over Troubled Water" and "Jesus Loves Me" and "I Shall Be Released" and "Morning Has Broken"? Still, it's by distilling schmaltz to its emotionally pure essence that the 59-year-old New Orleans legend has in large part made his name. Like Al Green, he possesses a uniquely soulful tenor voice that can make one listen afresh to stale material. The most revealing songs, though, are the two he wrote himself. "Jesus Is a Friend of Mine" begins with a spoken section in which he declares, "I want to see the world through His eyes, / I want the world to see Him in me," and in "What Would Jesus Do?" he revives the tired title slogan by setting it to music and by rephrasing it as a statement: "Let what He lived be your guide." Amen.

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