I live in the area with the highest concentration of Mormons (they prefer the term LDS, but who are we kidding?) outside the state of Utah, but up until now I’ve managed to avoid any contemporary music geared toward that audience–the closest I got was when the screen devoted to Mormon-focused films at my neighborhood movie theater showed Tears of a King, the tale of Elvis Presley’s possible conversion to Mormonism in the days immediately preceding his death. Today, however, Mormon music is surrounding me on all sides.
There’s a billboard right down the street from my house for Postivemusicanddownloads.com; the site, which may have the most ridiculous commercial domain name I’ve ever seen, is an iTunes-like destination for LDS music. While there isn’t much on the site yet, what’s there is as bland and inoffensive at you could ask for. Do you like Josh Groban, but sometimes wished he lacked that edge? Consider Daniel Beck! One artist, Sara Bethany Ham (a rock and roll name, if there ever was one) is described as sounding like Christian pop star Nichole Nordemann, which is probably one of the most meta comparisons I’ve come across. Ham has the benefit of being produced by the site’s “music director,” although you’d think she could get a banner ad on the front page out of that.
Continuing LDS music’s assault on the world’s consciousness is YLDSR.com, which at least has a little more sensible taste in domain names. (The acronym stands for Your LDS Radio.) According to Salt Lake City’s Deseret News, LDS-centric radio hasn’t been successful over the air outside of weekend-only programming, so YLDSR is taking to the internet. An hour or so of listening brought me what you would expect: An adult contemporary to easy listening mix of music with the occasional Mormon code word like “seal my testimony” thrown in. I particularly took notice of Jericho Road, who appear to be the Backstreet Boys of Mormon pop, except without facial hair or court appearances. Sadly, their upbeat pop track “Let Me Reach You” isn’t on YouTube, but someone was kind enough to sync “Think of Me” with Final Fantasy imagery.
One songwriting technique that crossed right over from Christian pop to its magic underwear counterpart was the imaginary conversation with a stranger in which the truth of God is illuminated. For Cherie Call, this conversation took place on a plane flight and was with a sage, but confused atheist.
While most LDS types I’ve met have more prefer non-offensive country to pan-flute backed balladry, it’s nice to know nearly every religious faith has its own disturbing brand of pop propaganda. Next up: My quest for Christian Science-themed hip-hop!
New radio station featuring LDS music launched online [Deseret News]
Your LDS Radio [homepage]
Positive Music and Downloads [homepage]