DISCLAIMER: I’m not trying to make fun of your religion. Or if I am, I’m making fun of all of them equally. I’m irreligious, but was christened a Catholic, and have half-Jewish blood. So, no hard feelings to anyone.
The other night, when I was chatting to someone at a gig, I mused out loud that there were a lot of genres that have been hijacked by Christians. Eg. you can have ‘Christian’ pop music, ‘Christian’ rap, ‘Christian’ punk, whatever you like.
(Even Christian ‘Black metal’…which, as my metal-loving boyfriend points out, is extremely antithetical. As Wikipedia puts it: “Initially considered a synonym for “Satanic metal”, black metal has often been met with hostility from mainstream culture, mainly due to the misanthropic and anti-Christian standpoint of many artists. Moreover, several of the genre’s pioneers have been linked with church burnings… “…Mmm! Makes sense!)
Then I wondered – is there such a thing as Jewish sub-genres? What about Islamic sub-genres? Hindu?…Scientology?…I picked some to have a look at.
And I’m not really talking about traditional music in all these religions – eg. traditional Hindu, or worship music. I’m talking about the equivalent of “Christian rock”, but for other religions – other religions’ adaptations of popular styles, with a lyrical and thematic focus on promoting/discussing their religions. It has to have a religious “message” for me to consider it religious music.
I decided to Google this and..yeah. It kind of exists. Check it out! Jewish rap below. (It’s not a joke, by the way. But the video kinda makes me laugh…)
Matisyahu (an actual good one):
Here’s a video of a Hasidic Jewish guitarist shredding on a traditional Jewish song (I’m not sure what the song is called, but I’ve heard it many times on television – I think anyone would recognize it):
There’s even Jewish country music. Featuring a sample of that same song as the Jewish guitarist used above. They sure love that song!:
One more Jewish country song, purely because of this name: “They ain’t makin Jews like Jesus anymore”.
It was harder to find any Hindu-focused music online aimed at a Western audience. I couldn’t really find anything; so I’d wager that most Hindu music is sung in the Hindi language. The closest I could find were some amateur videos of “Hindu people” rapping, but it wasn’t faith-focused. So it doesn’t count!
I did find this AMAZEBALLS 80s recruitment music video for Scientology. I alternated between open-mouthed disbelief and hysterical laughter watching it:
I guess the closest other Scientology ‘musician’ I found was this kid on Youtube. He describes his aims on his channel ‘about’: “Hello everyone, welcome to my channel. This is kind of an experiment for me. I am just about to do some singing lessons and practice the tech taught to me by the great L Ron Hubbard. he is the leader of my religion scientology, the religion. So these are the before vids which i will be adding to. Then after my lessons I will do more and see how much i have improved through the power of the religion of scientology. I wanted to share my journey and i hope you enjoy as much as i enjoy my religion of scientology. I would love to know what yal think. if you want a live showing then please come down to plymouth scientology and ask for ryan. Ps bring £25.”
I love the fact that he adds for us to bring 25 pounds. It’s not Scientology-faith focused, but I wanted to share it anyway. This is a video of him singing Usher’s ‘You Got it Bad’. At 2:27 he messes up the lyrics ‘I’m your man, you’re my girl’, and sings ‘I’m your man, you’re my man’, instead. I couldn’t help but think of Tom Cruise…:
For Islamic music – well…we have Yusuf Islam? Lol..
I’m not sure what the hell this is below, but it freaks me out. Those can’t be those little girls’ singing voices!..
This interesting vid is about a young Muslim-American fusing indie rock music and “traditional, ethnic Sufi soul music”… (Sufism is is supposed to be the inner, mystical dimension of Islam):
I found quite a few Wiccan/pagan styles of music online (I have to say I hate the Wiccan pop song below):
And, of course, plenty of Pagan and Wiccan metal. (I feel bad, maybe Pagans and Wiccans are different things and I shouldn’t be lumping them together?)
So, in conclusion…it seems there are other religions adapting popular music styles as a vehicle for their religious voices. But still not as many as Christian bands. I wonder why this is – is it just that Christianity is the most popular religion in the world, or is it the U.S.A has the highest amount of Christians in the world, and there is a big entertainment industry there? Are Christians just naturally pushier with their message than other religions…? (The highest diversity of genres I found for other religions was for Jewish bands, and they happen to be the 2nd most popular religious group in the United States. Not to mention known for their involvement in the entertainment industry. But it still wasn’t as popular as Christian music).
In terms of world population, there are certainly more people living in China and India than the United States. But China is probably much less likely to have any outspoken religious types around. Since, you know. Communism and free speech bans, and all. India is difficult to research because I can’t speak Hindi, although it does look like there is quite a lot of Hindi/Hindu music out there.
Whatever the conclusions, it’s been interesting to take a peek at the non-Christian religious music there is out there in YouTube land. I hope you enjoyed having a look with me!