Friday, February 20, 2009

Nominees for "official" Emergent Band

below are 10 bands/ artists that I (or you) are nominating for "official" band of Emergent. You will notice that almost everyone is a white male. For this I am sorry. However, it is apropos. Emergent is still a primarily white male discussion (this is not a good thing, but it is a "thing") and its musician will be such. I tried to lean away from too much white folk music, primarily because I would rather bash in my skull than listen to many earnest white guys with guitars singing earnest songs that "mean something." I am looking at you JT and your ilk.

Where is the world music? Emergent wants to be the "world music" version of Christianity but it is not there yet. If so, I would nominate K'naan and Tinariwen, but both are primarily Muslim.

Yes I do know the winner(s). First of all here are some of the musicians did not make the cut:

David Wilcox- white guy folk singer. Cannot do it. Of course, he deals with spirituality in a way that is emerging and is one of the only white earnest folkies I can stand. Still. He is the "official" band of the older white element of Emergent, luckily it is tiny.

Coldplay- seriously. stop. never. they are the "official" band of bad youth ministry... along with the Fray and Snow Patrol.

Bruce Springsteen- he is the official band of America. Too big. Too all encompassing.

The Clash-we are undeserving of The Clash. Official band of cool 50 year olds that we hope to be some day.

John Coltrane- the namesake of one of my sons. Even though I would consider Love Supreme a precursor to the Emergent Christianity movement, we need lyrics. he could be considered a patron saint, especially if we wanted to be cool.

Bob Marley- we are not worthy of Bob Marley. An interesting choice though.

The Roots- Way too cool for Emergent.

Bob Dylan- We wish. Of course, there is a strong Minnesota element to Emergent's leadership, so he could be a good choice. He plugged in and changed the rules. He redefined himself countless times. He is the meta-narrative singer. But, he is too big.

Green Day- Why would I consider them? They went from snotty punks to deep thinkers with something to say, much like The Beastie Boys. But, no.

Moby- maybe for the vegan element in Emergent. I thought about him for a minute. Then I ordered a burger.

mewithoutyou- maybe in a few years.

Lauren Hill- she should have been, but she went kinda crazy and has not put out any music in years.

Rage Against the Machine- angry. prophetic. socialistic. this is the official band of the Jesus for President crowd.

Ben Folds- He is the official band of Rick, but not Emergent.

Here are your nominees, all of which I will comment on next week (you can give your insight, but it will not play into my decision. This is a fiefdom!):

1. Sufjan Stevens
2. Radiohead
3. The 77s
4. Johnny Cash
5. Beck
6. Bill Mallonee and Vigilantes of Love
7. Arcade Fire
8. Rich Mullins
9. Waterdeep
10. U2

Make your guesses or vote (if you don't mind your vote not counting- yes, I am disenfranchising you).


Penitent said...

Ok, let's think this through.

Johnny Cash had some neat things to say, but he is too rooted in the Billy Graham, SBC side of the aisle.

U2 is way overdone, and since this wave of their rediscovery and new popularity, it would be too trendy to give them the official status. They are the "official" band of the entire new strain of Christians who would rather be called "Christ Followers", which is bigger than emergence.

Rich Mullins did give us the Ragamuffin Gospel, and lived a life that modeled humility and servitude. However, he is more the patron saint of Shane Claiborne type Christians, who are into the new monasticism more than the new theology.

I don't know the rest of them so I have to go with Radiohead, because I keep bumping into them on Pandora and have never been disappointed.

Anonymous said...

Actually I would have at least included Josh Garrels in your top ten list. Tsk Tsk Tsk. ;-P

Anonymous said...

Mason Jennings or Willy Mason.

Theologise said...

Why not the existentialism of Rush? Or the Tolkien LOTR mythology of Zeppelin? But then nothing communicates new theology like Motley Crue's Shout at the Devil. I feel that buttrock has been massively under represented on this list. Maiden? Scorps? Metallica? C'mon now!

RDF said...

Careful Rick. In a subtle, metaphorical way, you just had a theological blog entry. Love the emergent self deprecation! Thoughts:

U2 - too much
Radiohead - good, but not a complete fit
JC - agree w/ Penitent - too biblebelt notchish

Beck - good call

what about weezer and beastie boys - both snarky rebels, yet with an element of geekdom.


CPepiton said...

Well nominated, but it's Bill Mallonee and VoL hands down. Arcade Fire is a close 2nd. U2 Might be the obvious choice w/ St. Bono at its helm, but they're too established.

Anonymous said...

Radiohead are the "official" band of The Prozac Nation.

Anonymous said...

You should check out the Psalters ( to represent the lacking world music element. They definitely run with the JfP/mewithoutYou crowd, in fact have toured with mewithoutYou and joined the Jesus for President tour. You can get their music for free at their website if you write them an e-mail or just check out a few songs on their myspace page.

Anonymous said...

Bill Mallonee and the Vigilantes of Love. Game over.

DJ Word said...

to respond to all of this.

Tripp- you are correct. Game over.. . and you lose.

CPepiton. I like your line of thinking, even if VOL will not win.

Stormface- I cannot consider The Psalters for official band. They are a bit niche, like a subset of the emergent conversation. I don't really think of them as World music. I was thinking more African or something like that, but good suggestion.

Penitent- good thinking also.

Jonathan- Josh Garrels is good, nice but not really big enough (like our buddy Ryan) or having the reach for official status. He could be someone to suggest in a few years. And, he is a white guy with guitar, even if he sounds like a black guy (kinda).

Tank- Mason jennings? Maybe Waylon Jennings or even his son Shooter Jennings, but not more white guy with guitar music. Bill would win that context hands down for official status.

Ken- funny you use the word Butt Rock for that genre. I use the term Cock Rock. However, Rush is not cock rock. It is Geek Rock extraordinare.

Ron- good thinking all the way around. I mentioned Beasties in the Green Day section, but Weezer is a very good thought, but more generational than philosophical.

Keep it coming. The list unveils soon.


CPepiton said...

Ok. For the purposes of realism, I'll concede that VOL is an outside shot. They certainly fit the profile
-fantastic grooves with an alt country flavor
-American roots w/ a conscience
-A philosophical/contemplative bent w/ a good dose of angst
-long suffering moves against accepted big label/brand consciousness of the music industry

Alas...we shall "faithfully betray" Bill Mallonee's efforts. *tear*

VOL aside, the Arcade Fire's Neon Bible plays like a musical "dispatch" from the "new christians."

We might also consider Over the Rhine. Again, an outside shot in the total cd's sold realm, but they're tops in my book. Philosophically from the Quaker-ish world of things. Tight, socially conscious grooves with a somewhat left leaning undercurrent. Worth at least a nod in the nominations, eh?

RDF said...


Anonymous said...

Along the lines of mewithouyou people should consider as cities burn. They "I think" should be given a nod. Come, now sleep is beautiful everyone should listen to that album in its entirety. Also what about d.c. talk ha...ok seriously as cities burn. I like weezer but pinkerton weezer not this new stuff. Another to ponder is the killers?

Anonymous said...

Ooh I just thought of another great suggestion. How about late era Pedro the Lion and current David Bazan? He totally fits the profile, especially for disenfranchised evangelicals with his old and loosely held faith (currently not held), cursing and drinking, songs about adultery and anger towards religious hypocrisy. I feel like he would be a properly obscene and unofficial choice to support whatever the official decision turns out to be.

DJ Word said...

last night 2 lurkers stopped by to spread venom, insults and their need for therapy. Their comments were not in the spirit of this blog and everyone else that has engaged. Instead of ignoring those comments, I chose to delete them so none of you have to read them and feel the need to defend anything.

DJ Word said...

CP- my thoughts on VOL are close to yours. I will talk about Bill at length.

As for Arcade Fire and their new album, I can say nothing at this moment to confirm or deny their status as "official" band.

Over the Rhine- CRAP. You would have been helpful to me had you reminded me of them when I was taking nominees. I am borrowing my wife's Nano and had nothing by them on it, so I forgot. CRAP. I may get rid of one of my nominees and mention them.

Anonymous- I had briefly considered ACB. I like them and wanted that genre, but mentioned mewithoutyou instead (musically they are more interesting to me). I would see them as a subset "official" band and one that could be there 1 day, with a little seasoning, but good idea.

As for dc talk- I seriously considered them for 10 seconds. Seriously.

Weezer- I think they still speak generationally, but that is it for me (of course, that is more than most bands).

The Killers- can I give them official status for Emerging Mormon Christianity?

Stormface- to you I say the same I said to CP. Why didn't you mention this during the nominations? CRAP. Really good choice I had overlooked. I still think my eventual winner will speak to the conversation a little more completely, but Bazan is worthy of such a title (more so than any individual besides Bill Malonnee).

Over the Rhine and Bazan (Pedro)- great, great choices. better than a couple of my nominees.

Anonymous said...

That's why I think Bazan should be the secret/unofficial winner. I remember when I was at a Baptist church and all my friends listened to "praise and worship", which I could never stand, and I would be listening to Pedro the Lion. He always rebelled and cursed and questioned for me so that I didn't have to. When all the other bands are writing about the love of God there was always Bazan to remind me to (unofficially) question the wrath of God.

Anonymous said...


Going back to "Where it's at" with its tagline, emergent has its two turntables (Pagitt and Jones) and its microphone (McLaren)

Michael W. said...

no Sigur Ros?

Mike Clawson said...

I'm surprised no one has suggested The Colbalt Season yet. Are they not "big" enough?

Capt. Flipout said...

What's wrong with "older white guy emergents"!?

DJ Word said...

Capt. Flipout- I am an 40 year old Irish American member of the Emergent Coordinating Council. I may qualify as that "OWGE." Nothing is wrong with them, but they should not hamstring the rest of Emergent with their musical selections (like the Boomers did with Motown oldies).

Mike- The Cobalt Season does not qualify for 1 reason. He and Holly are part of the group. They are in. What I want to do is "adopt" some musicians as those that relate to the ethos of EV (w/out even knowing it, or coming to it separately).

To use the analogy that got this thing started in my brain, some guy said "Guinness is the official beer of Emergent." If some of our homebrewers got together and made their own beer, it would really be the beer of emergent, but it would be coming from the inside.

I want to steal someone from the outside and make them official, like this guy did to Guinness (more of an excercise than anything real). But you are correct, Cobalt Season is Emergent's band.

Michael W- I thought about Sigur Ros. I think I moved away for a couple of reasons. 1) lyrics- because he sings in an obscure language (some of which is his own)- it is difficult to talk about the content of lyrics as part of emergence, which I think is important, 2) they are like Radiohead in that they are part of the larger "emergent" picture culturally.

Kenton- funny.