Monday, September 30, 2013

Actually, "The Reason" is ...

What would Hoobastank say?

Lately, my drive to work has been blown asunder by one of the many songs of my college years, "The Reason", by Hoobastank.

You might say to yourself, "Jarrod, what's the big deal?  Your radio is often tuned to the alternative music channel of yesteryear frequently loaded down with throwback tunes from the 90s and early 2000s.  Hoobastank is like their #1 band, next to the Foo Fighters and Cake."

And you would be be correct.  Except for the other times when I'm listening to Christian radio, which is mostly ads and pledge drives.  So, most of the time, my radio is switched away from the local Christian radio channels, because I love Christian music, not commercials.

I was surprised to be taken back to my college reverie by the Christian radio channel.  After some quick Google work, I find that a Christian band covered the song word for word, riff by riff, beat by beat without so much as a deviation from the original.  The 'cover' was actually recorded years ago, but over the last several months has picked up speed on the radio.

This might be a problem.

Hymns have been robbing the music of the secular world since there have been hymns, in content and in style.  That's not new news, and it's certainly not a bad thing.  Church music should speak the musical language of the people.  But it's lyrical content should point to the deeper truths of the faith.

I'm a modern worship advocate.  I haven't always been, but it's been through ministry in the church that I've found the importance of musical language speaking in the vernacular, that it should meet people where they are.  But, take this lyric from "The Reason":

I've found a reason for me
to change who I used to be
a reason to start over new
and that reason is you

In the grand pantheon of modern hymnody, lyrics like this have been a common criticism against praise and worship music, and the praise and worship genre is riddled with them.  Songs that could be more easily equated with a love song to a girl as opposed to God, for the fact that the name Jesus is never mentioned.

I will say, that I'm cool with using pop music in worship - as long as it has a clear purpose in line with the message of the day.  Just because playing Mumford & Sons in the narthex is hip, doesn't mean it works in worship.  Composers decide the meanings of their tunes, listeners don't.

So, in conclusion I'll leave you with the original 2003 music video, where you see, the song isn't about Jesus.  It's about robbing pawn shops to give rubies to a pretty girl.  That's "The Reason."  Just ask yourself, "Can't we do better?"

Hoobastank:The Reason from Scottie Kuo on Vimeo.