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On Phillips, Craig, and Dean and Remakes.

Being someone who loves music, I have had to learn some coping strategies when a beloved song is redone. Can anyone relate to that?
I listen to a diverse body of musical styles, so I’m pretty cool with remakes that take a song into a different genre. Probably my favorite remake is Alison Krauss singing ‘Baby, Now That I’ve Found You.’ She took the classic Foundations song and gave it a new lease on life in the country music world, although I would consider her song more folk than country. But I’m not the one doing the marketing…
She reinterpreted something familiar and invited us to hear the song in a new light. This is what I love about good remakes.
(The Foundations’ version: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NuHhLiRkxNM)
(Alison Krauss’s:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EvKtxTsVoMo)
Then there’s the time when the version you thought was the original turns out to be a cover and you like it better than the original. And the time your husband disagrees completely.
But there are those remakes that aren’t better or worse–they’re just exactly the same, except for the singer. What do you do with those?
Enter Phillips, Craig, and Dean. Yes, you know them if you listen to Christian radio. Debuting in the nineties, this trio of singing senior pastors brought us the hit “Mercy Came Running.” It’s so catchy, especially when you share a house with a little girl named Mercy.
So it’s 20 years later. Phillips, Craig, and Dean release ‘Revelation Song,’ originally written by Kari Jobe. We have been singing it at my church for years when I hear it on KLove, the nationally syndicated Christian radio station, presented as, “Now, the latest from Phillips, Craig, and Dean.”
It begins the same way–almost the same exact instrumentation. A keen ear like mine, however, notes that it is not the original.
“What a beautiful song,” I think. “Why did they have to redo it?” Along with other snarky mental commentary that is in no way edifying to anyone.
Because in my world, a redo has to be better, more interesting.
And this one isn’t. Same melody, same words, same exact arrangement. Except I way prefer Kari Jobe’s voice. No contest.
Unjustifiable remake. I add it to the list of what’s wrong with contemporary Christian music. It’s a growing list of grievances. Honestly, I’m pretty sure I thought, “What a waste.”
But the more I listened to their version (after changing the station when it came on for a while), I had to admit, “It really is a great song…” And then I asked myself, “Why couldn’t the Kari Jobe version get more popular? It is, after all, superior.” But I even started singing along with PCD. Gasp.
That’s when the Holy Spirit challenged me with this idea:
Think about how many more people have hear this awesome song and worshipped Jesus simply because it is Phillips, Craig, and Dean? Kari Jobe is a great writer and worship leader, but she doesn’t have the fan base that those older guys do. And guess what, Amanda, they are older guys reaching other “older” people, helping them to worship.
Uh oh. I had to redefine what justifies a song remake. That’s okay, I thought. I’m a descriptive linguist. I can do that.
Snobby Amanda would like to repent to Phillips, Craig, and Dean. You are men of God who seek to invite others into relationship with Jesus through music. Like I hope to do. Please forgive me.
And now for a redefinition:
A good remake takes a good song and expands it–artistically or audientially. (I made up that word.)
Now a remake of my own.
I wrote the song Psalm 100 while in Egypt several years ago. I was able to record it at the generosity of my friend Patrick Evans, because I was clueless about all that technical stuff. A few days ago, I had the idea to re-record it, giving it a different feel. I’m so thankful for Patrick, and I am also thankful for my Mac. Check it out!
Oh, and I think it’s awesome that when PCD performed “Revelation Song” at the Dove Awards they invited Kari Jobe to sing with them…:o)
Shalom, y’all.
Amanda

2 Comments

  1. Chase says:

    Amanda,
    This is very insightful, I am very similar and prefer a lot of the original versions of contemporary Christian Music. I have been particularly bothered by Jeremy Camp’s remake of New Life Worship’s song, “One Thing Remains”. Thank you for shedding a new light on this. It really will help me move past letting the remakes bother me.

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