The Dove Awards: As Lousy As You Might Expect Christian Music’s Grammys To Be

Feb 20th, 2009 // 16 Comments

There was a news story today about a woman who is suing Orange Country because she was fired a few years ago for exposing the foster children she was counseling to Christian music. She wasn’t force-feeding them MercyMe; instead, during a jog on the beach, the woman stopped with the children to hear Switchfoot perform. The show wasn’t explicitly Christian (it was a Surfrider benefit that also had Incubus on the bill), so the firing seems a little unfair, but looking at the Dove award nominations today, it’s easy to understand how even the vaguest stink of Christian music would be difficult to wash off.

There are far too many categories in the Doves (which will be televised for the first time in several years)—including the separation of “Best Musical” and “Best Youth/Children’s Musical”—to even cut and paste them all, but I thought it might be somewhat helpful to mention the nominees for best song. There are ten, even though at least half of them are pretty miserable and the award will go to Steven Curtis Chapman no matter what.

Chris Tomlin, “Amazing Grace (My Chains Are Gone)”:

Steven Curtis Chapman, “Cinderella”:

Chris Sligh, “Empty Me”:

Brandon Heath, “Give Me Your Eyes”:

Natalie Grant, “I Will Not Be Moved”:

Francesca Battistelli, “I’m Letting Go”:

Hillsong, “Mighty To Save”:

The Afters, “Never Going Back To OK”:

Ernie Haase and Signature Sound, “Reason Enough”:

MercyMe, “You Reign”:

Aside from the Afters song (and only just barely), you’d think the only music that came out of the Christian industry last year was of the adult contemporary variety. While the Grammys made some indefensibly soft selections for a long, long time, at least they’d occasionally throw in something that implied that there was some variety out there. I wasn’t expecting a nod for Lacrae or Anberlin, but as even the Grammys began to realize it was a good idea to showcase a somewhat broad view of contemporary music, the Doves might be wise to try to fit a little more under their umbrella next year.

And considering these awards are supposed to cover the gospel world as well, maybe a nomination for a song sung by a non-white artist would have been appropriate, particularly Marvin Sapp’s “Never Would Have Made It”, which I can only assume was excluded for some technical reason considering it set a record this year for the most weeks topping any of Billboard‘s singles charts.

Counselor Suspended After Teens Exposed to Christian Music at Surf Jam [Beliefnet]
Dove Award Nominations; Fans Vote For Artist Of The Year [Beliefnet]

  1. doublewhiskycokenoice

    “is that peter fucking frampton?”

  2. raihala

    Every CCM band has at least one stocky, gay-ish guy in the group, right?

  3. Chris N.

    What do you mean, “-ish”?

  4. Tenno

    SIgh. That Afters song is the only one I can even stand, and it’s not something I would ever buy, just kind of not dislike in that vague, ‘Oh this song again…” kind of way.

    I am Christian, though not the greatest, and I really never understood why Christian music as a whole sucks. I just can’t stand adult contemporary, and would rather just hear old church songs if anything than some sappy vague love song.


  5. Thierry

    I guess that nomination shows Chris Sligh knew what he was doing when he performed MuteMath and Jars of Clay songs on Idol – that song is pretty terrible though.

  6. Ted Striker


    Hell, by getting into this niche, he’s probably assured a career that lasts 3X as long as anyone else from the second-tier Idol castoff crowd.

    There’s a Faustian bargain joke in there somewhere, I’m sure.

  7. Anonymous

    My friend is actually a pretty serious Christian but hates the Christian music scene. Why? It’s because they try way too hard to create Christian versions of secular artists: “Do your kids like Green Day but you don’t like the naughty words? Have them listen to Relient K! It’s the ‘Christian’ version!”

  8. galactus5000

    @2ironic4u: Christian versions of everything always pale in comparison to the original. There is your example, as well as Christian Guitar Hero paling compared to the original, and Christian guilt is a joke compared to Jewish guilt.

  9. DocStrange

    @Thierry: Mutemath aren’t a Christian Rock band. Warner Brothers randomly decided to market the band as Christian Rock against the band’s wishes. They still managed two Christian adult contemporary and rock hits before the band forced Warner to remove them from airplay and switch focus to Alternative stations (which is why their next chart single “Typical” was delivered only to alternative stations).

    They also won a Dove Award a few years ago which they refused to accept because they’re not a Christian band and don’t even have overtly Christian lyrics. It’s like calling Kevin Smith a “Christian filmmaker” because he goes to church every Sunday or calling me an “agnostic blogger” because I openly identify as an agnostic.

  10. mackro

    lol “Orange Country”

  11. ObtuseIntolerant

    I have a soft spot for “Cinderella” after seeing Mr. Chapman perform it with the Jonas Brothers in Nashville (and yes, girls interrupted his speech about his dead daughter to declare their love for little Nick – excruciating!).

    But Joe Jonas sang harmony with him and while I am sure it would be a shock to many, it was one of the best I’ve had the pleasure to hear in person…it came off much more country that way, too. I also think Mr. Chapman was a bit tipsy…but I can’t say as I blame him.

  12. Thierry

    @DocStrange: I’ve heard about the controversy, but at the same time, Chris Sligh was still performing a Dove Award-winning song on Idol (whether the band identified with the Christian rock scene or not), which probably wasn’t a complete coincidence.

  13. Anonymous

    Marvin Sapp got nominations for Male Vocalist of the Year and Artist of the Year, but you’re right. The guy sweeps the Stellar Awards, sets a record with the song “Never Would Have Made It,” and gets skunked in the song categories?

    I cover Christian music (for Beliefnet; thanks for the links) and even I get sick of most of the cookie cutter, pop drivel. But there are great artists out there who embody the Christian faith and also make great music. (Mat Kearney and Shawn McDonald come to mind.)

    I’m not sure what the controversy is about MuteMath. I saw them perform during Gospel Music Week where they were promoting their album to the Christian community … ?

  14. I don’t see Christian music like you guys do, but maybe that is because I am Christian. For the person who said something to the effect of, “I’m Christian, just not a good one,” all I have to say is Pfffffffffft. There is no such thing. You are either Christian or you are not; all people sin, even Christians, the difference is we are forgiven, at least if we ask for forgiveness. You may not be living a Christian life right now, but if you went to the alter and gave your life to Christ, you are Christian, period, without all the adjectives.

    I seriously don’t understand how all of you can cut down a genre of music that you obviously don’t know anything about. You might call it “cookie cutter,” but it is anything but. That cookie cutter music is worship music, not something we simply turn on to listen to and rock-on. We actually worship to that music, and it is beautiful, and I don’t know a Christian alive that gets sick of the same old, same old. It’s not like that for us, it is a way to worship our savior. The familiarity of the same old cookie cutter (as you say) sound is what gives us that close feeling to God; certain songs remind us of certain struggles we have surmounted, and the familiarity also gives us that feeling of our steadfast Savior.

    I agree that the Dove awards can be quite a joke. Definitely, they should include musicians from all genres, not simply from the contemporary musicians, but this is what they are used to. Christian music has come so far in the last 5 to 10 years, that us old folks have a hard time realizing that there is an entire new world of Christian head banging going on in the world today. For this, I am thankful; and I think the new genres that touch different age groups and show their subjective tastes need appreciation and recognition as well.

    I’m past the age of rock and roll, although I still love my classic rock, you might find me at a Peter Frampton concert, but you certainly would see me at a rock concert of today’s artists, I simply can’t hack it anymore, I’m too old. I did, however, go to a Skillet concert last night, and Hawk Nelson was the top back-up band of the night. I have to tell you, it was one heck of a party! Although I am up in years, I absolutely loved Hawk Nelson (I do love alternative and punk rock, although you may not hear me admit that too readily in public, lol. I would, I’m only joking.), and Skillet (for their message and caring hearts, musical ability, and the addition of strings, not to mention their love of rock-n-roll), was an amazing rock-n-roll show. It was no different from any classic rock-n-roll show I went to as a young girl, besides the fact that the lyrics were about God. When they started cranking up the rock, and it became harder and harder towards the end of the show, I was with them. Although I do not listen that kind of music, I did appreciate the sound, and as I said, their ability. The show rocked!

    I don’t see any Christians in here cutting you down for your music choices, so why do you feel compelled to cut down our preferences? Music is a beautiful thing, no matter what the genre, the instrument, the sound, someone is enjoying it, and I say, to each his own. We can’t change our preferences, we are born this way. I appreciate all music, because it is an expression of our individuality, and I would never dream of slamming someone for his or her choice, because each type of music only adds to our huge selection and shows our diversity. To each his own. If you feel you need to cut down a genre of music, I have to wonder if you feel intimidated by it.

  15. esther4him48

    Thank God for something like the Dove Awards, away from the trash, filth and self centeredness of this world's music, offering no peace, hope or eternal thereafter. I am so glad that we are separate and apart from the world. Gee, that reminds me of a scripture in the Bible that says, “While we are IN this world, we are not A PART of this world.” And again, Thank God.

    I have always been bewildered by the raunchy worded secular music, (especially rap or heavy metal) that can glorify anything from suicide to sex, sex and more sex and then get up and give God the glory for their creation of the song or it's popularity. I want to vomit. God was NOTHING of that, thank you very much!

    Whoever posted that the Dove Awards should include more than JUST Christian music, (therefore judging, once again, nobody should be bias or prejudice, UNLESS your a Christian, which makes you a given target for you and this world to shoot at,) well, let's just say that perhaps 30 years ago, The MTV and other music awards should have invited and INCLUDED the CHRISTIAN MUSIC ENTERTAINERS into THEIR territory. But nooooooo.

    It's all good. You can watch it of not. I don't watch the world's crap and I doubt the world is interested in watching Jesus either. You can't handle the truth.

  16. esther4him48

    About time someone stopped beating around the bush and got straight to the point. EVERYONE will one day bow before Jesus Christ, Son of God, sooner or later and we Christians did NOT make that up. It's in His Holy Word. Music or not, what is your hearts decision today? Your Will, or His? Hugs to you all.

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