Christian Rock is a form of rock music played by bands whose members are Christians and who often focus the lyrics on matters concerned with the concept of the Christian faith. The extent to which their lyrics are explicitly Christian varies between bands. Much Christian rock has ties to the contemporary christian music (CCM) scene, while other bands are independent. The Christian rock genre is most popular in the United States, although some Christian bands have worldwide
1960s, as rock displaced older, smoother pop styles to become the dominant form of pop music, a position it would enjoy almost continuously until the end of the 20th century, when hip-hop finally eclipsed it in sales.
Christian response to rock music (1950s-1960s)
Rock and roll music was not viewed favorably by most Traditional and fundamentalist Christians when it attained popularity with young people beginning in the 1950s. Although early rock music was often influenced by country and both black and white forms of gospel music, it was primarily derived from African American styles such as blues. White, religious people in many regions of the United States did not want their children exposed to what was viewed as "race music", with unruly, impassioned vocals, loud guitar riffs and jarring, hypnotic rhythms. Often the music was overtly sexual in nature, as in the case of Elvis Presley, who became controversial and massively popular partly for his suggestive stage antics. Individual Christians may have listened to or even performed rock music in many cases, but it was seen as anathema to conservative church establishments, particularly in the American South. He Touched Me was a 1972 gospel music album by Elvis Presley which sold over 1 million copies in the US alone and earned Presley his second of three Grammy Awards. Not counting compilations, it was his third and final album devoted exclusively to gospel music. The song "He Touched Me" was written in 1963 by Bill Gaither, an American singer and songwriter of southern gospel and Contemporary Christian music.
In the 1960s, Rock music matured artistically, attained worldwide popularity and became associated with the radical counterculture, firmly alienating many Christians. In 1966, British act The Beatles, regarded as one of the most popular and influential rock bands of their era, ran into trouble with many of their American fans when John Lennon jokingly offered his opinion that Christianity was dying and that the Beatles were "more popular than Jesus now". The romantic, melodic rock songs of the band's early career had formerly been viewed as relatively inoffensive, but after the remark, churches nationwide organized Beatles records burnings and Lennon was forced to apologize. Subsequently the Beatles experimented with a more complex, psychedelic style of music and anti-establishment lyrics, while the Rolling Stones sang a song openly from the point of view of Satan.
As the decade continued, the Vietnam War, the Civil Rights Movement, the Paris student riots and other events served as catalysts for youth activism and political withdrawal or protest, which became associated with rock bands, whether or not they were openly political. Moreover, many saw the music as promoting a lifestyle of promiscuous "sex, drugs and rock and roll", also reflected in the behavior of many rock stars. However, there was growing recognition of the diverse musical and ideological potential of rock. Countless new bands sprang up in the mid-to-late 1960s, as rock displaced older, smoother pop styles to become the dominant form of pop music, a position it would enjoy almost continuously until the end of the 20th century, when hip-hop finally eclipsed it in sales.
There are multiple definitions of what qualifies as a "Christian rock" band. Christian rock bands that explicitly state their beliefs and use religious imagery in their lyrics, like Servant, Third Day, and Petra, tend to be considered a part of the contemporary Christian music (CCM) industry and play for a predominantly Christian market.
Other bands perform music influenced by their faith or containing Christian imagery, but see their audience as the general public. They may avoid specific mention of God or Jesus, or they may write more personal, cryptic, or humorous lyrics concerning their faith rather than direct praise songs.
Such bands are sometimes rejected by the CCM rock scene and may specifically reject the CCM label, however many have been accepted as Christian bands. Other bands may experiment with more abrasive musical styles, which until recently met with resistance from the CCM scene.
However, beginning in the 1990s and 2000s there was much wider acceptance even by religious purists of Christian metal, Christian industrial and Christian punk. Many of these bands are on predominantly Christian record labels, such as Tooth and Nail Records and Facedown Records.