Ah, the 90’s. The glory days of Contemporary Christian Music. Smitty was young, dcTalk was still spittin’ rhymes, and we still could claim Amy Grant as our own. I miss those days something fierce.
Specifically, I miss…
#1 – Vests
The 90’s were peak vest years. In his energetic anthem “Secret Ambition”, Michael W. Smith sported a geometrically patterned vest, showing off his formidable guns and causing female hearts to flutter. He also maintained prolonged eye contact with the camera, staring deep into the depths of your soul.
In addition to playing the piano, Smitty could punch your teeth out and read your very thoughts.
Unfortunately, I never wore a vest. Actually, my own sense of fashion was waaaaayyyy worse. Remember, I was homeschooled. If today I walked through Goodwill with a blindfold on, randomly grabbing garments, I would look better than I did then. Actually, I might look better than I do now.
#2 – Steven Curtis Chapman’s Hair
Sporting a style called the “Classy Mullet”, SCC was truly a fashion icon. Rumor has it that his budget for conditioner was higher than his album production budget.
He also buttoned his shirts all the way up. Beautiful on top, modest all the way up. #KillerCombo #SorryLadiesHesTaken
I never had the audacity to wear my hair like SCC. Rather, I would buzz my hair short in a style I like to call “prison camp”.
#3 – Straight Up Military References
Featuring songs with titles like “This Means War”, “Get On Your Knees And Fight Like A Man”, and “He Came, He Saw, He Conquered”, the CCM of the late 80’s and early 90’s was filled with military analogies. This was during the first Bush years when war was still kinda cool.
Compare that to today, where all our CCM titles are soft and squishy, with titles like “Love and Hugs Are All I Need”, “Feeling All The Feels”, and “Your Love Is A Warm Fleece Blanket”. We need more weapons of mass spiritual warfare in our songs.
#4 – White, Middle-Aged Men Pretending To Rap
In 1985, Carman released the album The Champion. It was a poppy, synth-heavy album, reminiscent of “Huey Lewis and the News” with slight undertones of Michael Jackson (VERY SLIGHT).
A decade later, he released R.I.O.T (Righteous Invasion Of Truth). In the music, Carman drops fat rhymes and dances around in overalls (both of which were oddly popular in the 90’s). The song was as bad as you imagine.
Like most of my ill-fated creative ideas, R.I.O.T. probably sounded a lot cooler in Carman’s head than it actually ended up being.
#5 – Knowing Who Was In The Newsboys
By the mid-90’s, the Newsboys had already been around for a decade, though most of the original members were still in the band. No longer. Now the band from down under is a schizophrenic hodgepodge of former semi-famous and famous musicians, very few of whom are from down under.
All the following have been the lead singer at some point in the history of the band:
- John James
- Peter Furler
- Michael Tait
- Michael Jackson
- Michael Caine
- Michael Scott
#6 – Rock Songs That Would Become Pre-School Worship Songs
In 1992, Audio Adrenaline released the album Don’t Censor Me, featuring the song “Big House”, which was an upbeat song about “my Father’s house” (presumably about Heaven but possibly about church or about Jesus as the Messianic fulfillment of the temple (this seems unlikely)). The album was a smash hit, selling 250,000 copies and propelling the band to fame.
I loved “Big House”, and would rock out to it unironically in my bedroom while wearing jorts. Ironically, “Big House” is now a smash hit in Christian preschools. How do I know this? Because ironically, I am now old enough to have a child in preschool, and one day my daughter came home singing “Big House”.
It’s the Circle of Life people. Just like Solomon predicted.
#7 Punk Rock For Only Semi-Rebellious Kids
In 1994, MxPx burst onto the scene, unleashing frantic, furious punk songs in the style of Green Day. But unlike Green Day, who sang about burnout, coming clean, and smoking doobies (the street term for marijuana), MxPx sang about mostly benign Christian subjects, with occasional semi-racy song about smooching (street term for kissing).
It was angst for church kids!!!
Let us Return To Our First Love
Look, I’m not saying that CCM music in the 90’s was perfect. But I long to return to the days of luxurious hair, vests, and military songs. Or maybe I just want to be young again. Actually, that’s totally it.
Because, yeah some music was good. But some was just plain awful. Kinda like my wardrobe.