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The Post-Covid Playlist

Posted by John Gardner
on April 24, 2022
The Post-Covid Playlist
Photo by Eric Awuy on Unsplash

From time to time, I like to create new playlists on Faith Bible Church’s Spotify account. As you might suspect, I listen to a lot of music and often find myself eager to expand my listening into new songs, new genres.

Sometimes when I create a playlist, it’s for a specific purpose. Maybe I’m looking for songs on a particular topic (such as when our church was going through our study of suffering last year), or exploring Christ-exalting music originating from outside our immediate cultural context, or just need something chill on a cold, windy day.

Other times, I’m simply bored of whatever I’ve been listening to and ready for a change! Whatever the reason, these playlists can also be a resource for you in your own listening or to share with others, and I pray they will be an encouragement to many.

Recently, I created a new, quite eclectic playlist, built initially for my own personal study. I wanted to explore some new music to see what trends might be emerging in songwriting in the age of Covid.

For the most part, I've avoided the more "mainstream" Christian artists that are most popular on radio and in worship services—not because there isn't good content there, but because I often find those songs more formulaic ̶  safer, perhaps. I wanted to delve into creative songs that seem more reflective of our current cultural/social moment.

Fortunately, there is a vast array of gifted songwriters publishing new music right now, and there are some real gems in my “Post-Covid” playlist. Nearly all have been written since the pandemic began (I think I let a few songs from 2019 sneak in).

 
Having listened to these songs (and many others) repeatedly, here are a few of the themes that have stuck out to me:

  1. People are anxious. Nearly every album that has come out in the last couple years from any artist I've listened to has included songs expressing anxiety, doubt, and uncertainty ̶ and proclaiming faith in Christ as the one who calms our fears.
  2. God is King. Also big right now are songs that exalt God as the Sovereign who sits above the tumult and is not shaken by the things that shake us, which is a natural companion to the first theme. This connection is most notable in the many songs expressing the hope of heaven and the return of the King.
  3. Return to psalmody: There is a widespread renewed emphasis on setting the text of the Psalms to new music. This trend really started a few years before Covid, but I'm chalking this up to God providing for His church the vocabulary we would need during such a difficult season. The Psalms express the full range of human emotion, and they are particularly well-suited to praise in difficult times.
  4. Stylistic shift: Whereas most of the last 30 years have seen influences from rock and pop genres most prevalent in Christian music, there has been a noticeable increase in the last few years in songs influenced more by jazz, blues, and spirituals. Rare on this playlist are the four-chord songs that have dominated worship music for at least a generation. Songwriters and arrangers are experimenting more with chord substitutions, songs in minor/modal keys, and more varied instrumentation.
  5. Real instruments: After a decade or so of increasing reliance on synthesized music, I'm hearing a lot more horns, strings, pianos, and guitars again.
  6. Many voices: Choirs are coming back, people! Rich vocal harmonies, large singing ensembles, and "gang" background vocals are prevalent in nearly all new music, across many genres. It's as if, after two years of isolation, people are valuing much more the power of many voices singing together.

So check out the new playlist. Set it on random play and listen for a while. Does anything stand out to you? What songs (whether on this playlist or not) do you find yourself gravitating toward in your own listening these days, and why?

I always enjoy getting feedback like this from church members, and I would love to hear from you at jgardner@fbchurch.org!

Open playlist on in Spotify

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