Monday, August 24, 2009

Foot Column: Atlantic Records and “Pseudo-Christian bands” + more info on Hello Hurricane release

Atlantic Records is known for its many mainstream rock and pop acts, such as Metallica, Shinedown, and Jason Mraz. But this record label is also home to a different breed of bands, which includes two “PseudoChristian” groups. Most people know what I’m talking about here. These are bands that reject the “Christian” label, afraid it will lose them listeners, but are still known as “Christian bands”, and/or have a large Christian audience. The two groups that come to mind here are Skillet and Needtobreathe. Skillet is primarily known as a harder rock band, with a sound slightly like that of fellow label-mates Shinedown, and also similar to Three Days Grace and Breaking Benjamin. Needtobreathe is more of a pop/rock group that sometimes even dabbles in a southern gospel sound. Both are very popular with Christian audiences, with Needtobreathe’s single “Washed by the Water” becoming a number one christian hit a couple of years ago. Skillet reaches out to a larger audience, with singles, “Whispers in the Dark” and “Savior” reaching #34 and #26 on the Mainstream Rock charts respectively. Skillet also reaches Christian audiences as well, with their current single “Hero” hitting #32 on the Hot Christian Singles charts. While Needtobreathe regularly uses Word to release their albums (Warner Bros, which owns Atlantic Records, Christian imprint with acts like Remedy Drive)

Skillet stays with Atlantic directly. So essentially Skillet tries to reach out to a larger audience, while Needtobreathe stays with what’s working for them, which is the Christian audience. So what’s the point of all this? Well it’s important because Switchfoot to many, is a “Christian” band. Now whether or not they actually are depends on how you define Christian band; which is a point of discussion for another post and is not really the main point anyways, because, Switchfoot’s goal is to make music for people of all religions. The main point/question here is, “How are these bands treated by Atlantic Records? Are they sidestepped because of the Christian label, or are they appreciated for their musical talent? The answer in the situation would have to be the latter.

While Needtobreathe is mainly marketed to the Christian audience, Skillet continues to reach larger areas despite the fact that they explicitly allude to a higher power in many of their songs (Savior for instance). Skillet also tours with mainstream acts such as Three Days Grace, and is widely known to a large audience. Needtobreathe is clearly also marketed well, with several of their singles doing very well. So what essentially does it mean for Switchfoot? Well, most likely (in fact most certainly) not much. “Hello Hurricane” will certainly be released directly from Atlantic, although there is probably a small chance it will come out on Word as well. Also, Switchfoot will probably be treated very well by Atlantic, as pretty much everyone has seen what this band is capable of (Singles “Dare You to Move” and “Meant to Live”). So essentially, we can count on good reception from Atlantic Records, and know that most likely Switchfoot will be supported as much, if not more than Skillet. In all likelihood then, the fact that many consider Switchfoot to be a “Christian band” should have nothing to do with the way their singles are marketed, since we see that the other pseudo-Christian acts are marketed very well by Atlantic. So don’t expect Switchfoot to be marketed poorly as they may have been in the past, and instead look forward to a great record that should be marketed well, and if the fans call in to radio enough, some great singles.

(Single chart positions taken from Wikipedia)

Note: this post is certainly not meant to say that Switchfoot is only for Christians, because nothing could be farther from the truth. Jon Foreman clearly stated that their music is for everybody, and that they do not consider themselves to be a Christian band.

Also, Switchfoot added the following on their website......


8.22.09: Details on new album "Hello Hurricane"

hello hurricaneThe time has come: Hello Hurricane is scheduled for release on November 10th, with a pre-order starting soon. Also, our first single "Mess of Me" will be heading to radio soon...stay tuned


Joe said...

good work TJ! Needtobreathe has also gotten some good mainstream exposure as well, with "More Time" being featured prominently in the movie "P.S. I Love You", and "Lay Em Down" hovering on itunes Alternative top 100 for a while. So excited SF is with Atlantic!

Bleah Briann said...

Whoa! Thats good.

Thomas said...

@Joe, oops my bad..... thanks! yeah I'm thinking that was a good choice too.... :)

@Bleah Brian

david Esquen said...

Very well done. I fully agree with you. Now even though we're not talking about religions here, I myself am a Christian. And I fully support the band and dont consider them a 'Christian band'. I mean there are artists like 'the fray' that are Christian but the're not a Christian band.

A Christian band would be someone like "hillsong" or "leeland".
Anyway those ar just my thoughts but very good work on the post !!!!

Bleah Briann said...

I agree with david. But some of there songs do have a christain message. So they are Christains, in a rock band who have a wide variety of music...including Christain. =D